Being first is nothing new for 142d Signal Brigade. The unit became the first brigade-level multicomponent unit when it added 29th Signal Battalion, an Active Component unit located at Fort Lewis, Wash., to its command in September 1999 (see related story).
In November 1999, 142d Signal Brigade became the first National Guard major command to deploy its own multichannel tactical-satellite equipment when it used its new AN/TSC-93B vans in a field-training exercise. The system linked 29th Signal Battalion with 279th Signal Battalion at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., and 711th Signal Battalion at Camp Shelby, Miss. As part of the multicomponent structure, active-duty soldiers from 29th Signal Battalion are assigned to Decatur, Ala., to operate and maintain the AN/TSC-93B equipment.
"This was the first opportunity 142d Signal Brigade’s systems control has had to train and manage all four battalions in the field simultaneously," said COL Brooks Hodges, the brigade’s S-3. "We were able to set up a conference call where the brigade commander could talk over the tactical network with all four battalion commanders, who were located in Alabama, Mississippi and at Fort Lewis. Our packet switching worked as well and enabled users to use electronic mail and advanced Internet features.
"What was significant about this is that National Guard members arrived at their armories on Friday morning for a three-day exercise, packed equipment, loaded vehicles, convoyed to their designated sites, set up equipment and had the backbone system operating within 24 hours of arrival time at the armory," Hodges continued. "The links to 29th Signal Battalion in Fort Lewis from Alabama and Mississippi were fully operational within 12 hours of site arrival. The entire system was 75 percent in place within 36 hours."
The exercise consisted of more than 1,500 soldiers – active and National Guard – located at Camp Shelby, six counties in north Alabama and Fort Lewis. Equipment included 15 node centers, two large extension nodes, more than 30 small extension nodes and the EastPAC satellite.
A very pleased BG Troy Oliver, 142d Signal Brigade commander at the time, indicated that "by any standard, and by all involved, that exercise was a resounding success and marked a new era in Active Component/Reserve Component communication and training integration."
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Army Communicator is part of Regimental Division, a division of Office Chief of Signal.