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Joint exercises benefit 11th Signal Brigade troops

by SSG Tim Volkert

FORT BLISS, Texas � Joint operations is now a way of doing business in real-world missions, and to be prepared, Army Signal Command�s 11th Signal Brigade from Fort Huachuca, Ariz., joined forces with all military branches for two major summer exercises.

Brigade soldiers teamed up with active-duty personnel from all military branches, Army Reserve and National Guard units for Roving Sands, an annual air-defense artillery exercise, and for Grecian Firebolt, an annual worldwide Signal exercise.

SPC Anthony Johnson answering question from reservist SPC Jeffrey Yi SPC Anthony Johnson, right, a switch-systems operator and maintainer from Company A, 86th Signal Battalion, answers a question from SPC Jeffrey Yi, a wire-systems installer from 820th Signal Company, a Reserve unit stationed in Mesquite, Texas. The 820th trained with 86th Signal Battalion at Roving Sands/Grecian Firebolt during the Reserve unit's annual training.

Working with other servicemembers during these missions was a good training opportunity for the soldiers because they know if they�re called upon to deploy for a real mission, it won�t only be the Army they�ll join forces with, said SSG Frederick Dalton, the operations noncommissioned officer from Company C, 86th Signal Battalion, 11th Signal Brigade. "In a real-world situation, it�s not just going to be an Army operation. We�re going to be doing a lot more joint stuff than this in a full-scale deployment," he said.

"We might have an Air Force, Marine or Navy joint end (to link to) and right now, I�m learning some of the capabilities of (Air Force) equipment. Maybe in the future, if a real-world mission pops up and I work with the Air Force, I�ll know a little more about it," said SPC Douglas Trenk, a satellite-communications operator and maintainer from Company C, 86th Signal Battalion.

Trenk and more than 80 soldiers from Company C worked with Air Force and Marine Signal teams from their Site Pershing, N.M., location. They directly supported the Marine Air Control Wing 38 stationed out of California and also linked to Air Force units across the United States, using some Air Force equipment during the exercise.

Working with the Air Force equipment was a little challenging to set up, but the airmen worked with them and showed them how to get it operational, said SPC William Ricker, a tropospheric operator from Company C, 86th Signal Battalion.

"I think we had a pretty good rapport," Ricker said. "Everybody worked really well together, and I think there was a good amount of respect between us."

Dalton said their dealings with the Marines and Air Force were very positive.

"It has gone real smooth," he said. "The Air Force guys came out here and helped our soldiers put up these antennas, and the Marine Corps switch we�re working over here � they�ve been real good to work with. No headaches, no problems."

After struggling through some minor challenges in learning the other service�s jargon, everything went smoothly and the equipment worked well together, which builds confidence in the ability of soldiers to work with other military branches, Dalton said.

"It boosts the guys� confidence. You can�t get that (type of) confidence boosted doing a battalion or brigade exercise back at Huachuca," he said. "Coming out here and working with different people gets everybody a little more motivated."

"In terms of knowing that our systems are going to work together, I think it�s good," said Ricker. "You get out here and interact, and I think it shows that everybody is wearing the same uniform, just different patches."

SSG Volkert is assigned to 11th Signal Brigade�s public-affairs office at Fort Huachuca.

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04/04/12

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