By 1st Lt. Kenneth Deberry, 396th Signal Company, 30th Signal BattalionMarch 7, 2013
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii--Early mornings and late nights are the norm for many Soldiers serving the nation but for those members of the Signal Corps tasked to ensure their commanding general's communications suite is intact, mornings seem to start a little earlier, and the nights end much later.
All Soldiers can identify with the responsibilities inherent in ensuring the Warfighter is able to communicate, but only a select number of Signaleers are chosen to bear the heavy weight bestowed on the commanding general's communication team.
The task is equal parts, demanding, and rewarding, but there is never a dull moment for members of the 396th Signal Company "WOLFPAC," from 30th Signal Battalion, who serve on the U.S. Army Pacific Commanding General's Communication Team--or the CG's Commo Team, as they are affectionately known.
Competent and confident, they make executive level communications their first and last order of business. Team members often are mocked for living what some lay Soldiers term the glamorous life--travel to exotic lands with amenities fit for a king--but the scale is balanced by the pressure to meet and exceed the expectations of USARPAC's senior ranking officer.
Without buckling under that pressure, the team also makes time to train. The CG's commo team conducts Sergeant's Time Training that focuses on developing not only their skill sets, but those of a number of on-island CG commo teams. They share best practices, and provide instructional blocks about the equipment common among the teams. The training is specifically geared towards team members new to both equipment and the wide-ranging rigors of the position.
On the equipment side, the information age has brought about change in business and military worlds, alike. Information in the military is akin to that of the stock market during market hours: it changes at light speed. It is critical that general officers and chief executive officers are equipped to tap into the information super highway.
The CG's commo team's efforts allow the CG access to various network services, worldwide, and provide the requisite flexibility, while allowing for a variety of wide area network links, and a very small aperture terminal. The team can essentially make use of an existing internet connection to tap into military networks, or tie into a connection, via satellite link.
The training class led by 396th Sig Co's Staff Sgt. Billy Campos, and Staff Sgt. Paul Jean aims at familiarizing users with current communications devices. Soldiers are provided hands on experience and an overview of the technical specifications and real-world applications.
Cpl. John Summers, Information Systems Staff IMO, Headquarters Service Company, USARPAC, attends the training as often as scheduling permits. "We have some overlapping responsibilities, so we collaborate on a lot of issues. Now, we are able to cover down in each other's absence," he said.
When it comes to the rigors of his position, Campos, a member of the CG's Commo Team since November 2010, is well versed in what his role demands.
"You have to be very well-rounded to work for a general," he explained. "You need to know a little about everything, especially foreign cultures--to include the history, [cultural] values and people's beliefs, important people, places, and events, and even the food. You need to be sensitive to the host nations. You need to be able to conduct yourself in a way that shows the utmost respect, and in a way that is representative of your commanding general and what we stand for as military, and as a nation."
"[The equipment used] provides us with an internet connection regardless of where you are in the world," said Campos. "The rest of our equipment is dependent on an existing internet connection" he added. "In the event we are in a remote location, we can deploy [other equipment] and still have connectivity."
Having hosted the training for so long, Campos is used to hearing the same questions over and over again.
"I get asked a lot about what it's like to work for a general, and what other countries are like," he said. "I also get questions about what goes into our mission preparations--from the Defense Travel System to passports and visas to procedures in carrying equipment overseas. There is a lot more to being a Global Command and Control System NCO than the technical aspect," he emphasized. "One has to also be adept in tactical security, logistics, and administrative/clerical tasks."