by SPC Jonathan Charles
FORT MEADE, Md. � A modern army can�t fight if it can�t communicate. In the 21st century, communications means data, and the Army is no different from any other high-tech corporation. It needs people trained in communications technology. For the U.S. Army, that technology is Cisco.
As the Army offsets more and more of its non-combat forces to the Army Reserve, advanced training offered on active duty needs to be transferred as well. Since most Army Reservists serve only one weekend a month and two weeks a year, they need to be handled a little bit differently than active-duty soldiers.
But 311th Theatre Signal Command here � whose wartime mission is to provide theatre-wide command-and-control of all communications assets � has discovered a unique way to satisfy this high-tech requirement.
�We�ve established the first and only sanctioned Cisco academy within the U.S. Army Reserve Command worldwide,� said 1LT Shawn Herron, 311th�s public-affairs officer. �This course will provide ongoing state-of-the-art technical training to soldiers commensurate with their civilian work schedule.�
What this means for Reservists is they can get this technical training during evenings and drill weekends. Soon they�ll be able to dial-in via their home computers to download training material and access equipment.
�The command benefits by providing highly skilled soldiers to support its war and peacetime mission,� said Herron. �We�re a communications command. We have telecom, satellites, and underneath all of it are the Cisco routers. If they don�t work, we don�t communicate.�
The academy�s benefits to individual soldiers and corporations are also high.
�America benefits by having skilled information-technology professionals in its workforce, and the individual soldier wins by acquiring state-of-the-art training that parallels the required skillsets for corporate America,� said Herron.
The Cisco course, which would normally take six weeks to complete full-time, takes six months part-time. The current class, which started in July, should be providing trained personnel by December.
�This course is designed primarily to train soldiers to use the equipment, but soldiers are also encouraged to acquire Cisco�s industry certification,� said Herron. �It�s also required training for senior noncommissioned officers, warrant officers and commissioned officers.�
USARC and the Signal Center, Fort Gordon, Ga., are evaluating the Cisco course for possible expansion throughout USARC.
The course is open to anyone in the military and to Department of Defense civilians. Herron said the 311th also hopes it will eventually be able to offer open seats in the course to military family members.
SPC Charles writes for 318th Press Camp headquarters, Chicago, Ill.
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Army Communicator is part of Regimental Division, a division of Office Chief of Signal.