State of the Signal Regiment

by SPC Sharron Grinder and Lisa Alley

FORT GORDON, Ga. – During MG Peter Cuviello’s state of the Signal Regiment address to a standing-room-only crowd during the Signal symposium, the Chief of Signal informed the audience of many upcoming changes in the Regiment – including new doctrine developments and challenges facing the Regiment in the upcoming millennium. "Ours is a changing and exciting world, but it’s still a dangerous one," he said.

Calling this year’s symposium "the best and final one of the millennium," Cuviello went on to say, "This symposium will help us prepare for our symbolic and awesome leap into a new century and new millennium. … We are now in the process of transforming our Army to meet the Army chief of staff’s vision for a more deployable and responsible fighting force."

He said people are the most important resource of the Regiment, and that the Army is reinstating almost 5,000 noncommissioned-officer positions. "I am continually amazed and gratified by the creativity, resourcefulness, energy, talent and dedication of every member of our Signal Regiment: the military, civilians and industry partners. It would all be for nothing without the young people who fill our ranks and give us such hope for the future. Retention is the responsibility of each of us in leadership roles, military and civilian."

He went on to say, "For both Active and Reserve Components, we’ve determined that 951 information-technology soldier spaces are needed." The current composition of the Regiment is 51 percent active duty, 37 percent National Guard and 12 percent Army Reserve.

Cuviello said an extensive marketing campaign is being designed that will recruit warrant officers, and an initiative is being considered that will encourage the development of a new multidiscipline-skilled Signal warrant officer. "If implemented, it will open up warrant-officer positions to more than 7,000 soldiers in previously closed Signal military-occupation specialties."

He said field-grade-officer numbers are strong, but the Regiment, "like the Army, is short of captains, especially branch-qualified captains. The Army is pursuing both structure and inventory initiatives to fix it." He said last year 387 lieutenants branched Signal. "This shows the appeal of the Regiment, and the quality and desirability of the training that comes with it."

He said since last year’s symposium, soldiers are able to use the Internet for various reasons, including officer-preference statements being submitted on-line; soldiers are now able to access the latest manuals and other resources. "We are now Web-based. Just this past September alone, there were more than 1,700 visitors to the site, with more than 40,000 hits and more than 200 messages generated from leaders and soldiers in the field. This interactive dialogue enables us to respond to those leaders and soldiers who need help the most – the ones actually using our equipment and who, in turn, can tell us the most effective and efficient tactics, techniques and procedures for Signal-support operations."

The Chief of Signal also said that the Regiment was "leading the way" in converting to multicomponent units and blended units (where Reserve Component people hold key positions in an Active Component unit, or vice versa). The Reserve unit 142d Signal Brigade established command-and-control over 29th Signal Battalion, an active unit at Fort Lewis, Wash., in June as part of the transition to multicompo units. Examples of blended units to come will be that 93d Signal Brigade’s deputy commander will be an RC officer; or 335th Signal Command and 280th Signal Battalion have or will have AC officers in key positions in those units.

Other initiatives and concerns involve how to go about ensuring situation awareness with a more deployable force, and an extensive campaign beginning to be sure of information assurance. Cuviello also mentioned that the joint tactical radio had passed some milestones in Warfighter Information Network-tactical.

Another item of the Chief of Signal’s mind was training. To create that multidiscipline-skilled soldier, Cuviello said the Signal Regiment needs better training and "the schoolhouse must get it together" for this. "Training lags behind the fielding of new equipment," he said. He also said up-to-date training to the sustaining base via distance learning and distributed learning was a current project, as well as looking into making the Signal Center an extended campus of the Command and General Staff School.

Concluding, Cuviello said, "Our strength and ability to overcome lies in the people in our Regiment: our soldiers, active and reserve; our civilian coworkers; and our partners in the industry who help keep us ahead of the rest of the world in communications, automation and information technology. I truly believe we are, and will continue to be, the force enabler for our joint warfighting commanders, the unified and specified commanders in chief."

SPC Grinder is a staff writer with The Signal, Fort Gordon’s post newspaper. Ms. Alley edits Army Communicator.

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