Symposium addresses current issues

by SFC Anthony Reed

FORT GORDON, Ga. – The 27th annual Signal Regiment symposium, the largest military-sponsored Signal symposium in the world, was held here Nov. 29-Dec. 3. The theme of this year’s event was "support to the warfighting commanders in chief – enable the force" and focused on communications visions as the U.S. armed forces head into the 21st century.

The keynote speaker was GEN John Keane, the Army’s vice chief of staff. Others in attendance at the symposium included Training and Doctrine Command’s commanding general, GEN John Abrams; Chief of Signal MG Peter Cuviello; as well as the top enlisted and officer American and foreign Signaleers throughout the world.

Fort Gordon’s battle lab set up a live Internet-based streaming video broadcast of selected events for people unable to attend the symposium.

"This was the single most important and effective professional development event for the U.S. Army Signal Regiment this year," said Cuviello. "It gave Signal leaders a forum to present their visions and strategies for integrating information technology and innovating new communications solutions."

"This is a chance for Signal leaders to come together and exchange information about the field," said CSM Larry Paylor, command sergeant major for Army Signal Command at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. He has been attending the symposiums since 1991.

The symposium featured seminars and workshops for Active and Reserve Components, as well as Signal career-field information. There were also more than 100 industry-vendor exhibits displaying armed-forces communications in a specially constructed 32,800-square-foot tent.

Seminars included discussions on military-occupation specialties – including 74-series MOS questions, promotion and assignment issues – as well as the latest Signal technology and Army equipment – including a demonstration of equipment for the "futuristic soldier."

The symposium was all-business, even at social events. "Signal’s ‘movers and shakers’ were present at one of the best icebreakers ever," Paylor said. "People were exchanging business cards and talking soldier issues face-to-face with people who previously were only e-mail addresses or telephone voices."

"The symposium allows senior enlisteds to come together and discuss problems, solutions and new technology within the Signal Regiment," said CSM Reuben Peppers, command sergeant major with 54th Signal Battalion in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

"Each year the symposium addresses different issues," said 10-year attendee CSM Stanley Davis, command sergeant major for 5th Signal Command in Mannheim, Germany. "Because we (sergeants major) adopt policies for the enlisted ranks, this is one of the best places to conduct Signal Regiment business one-on-one with the leaders. It also affords us the opportunity to meet new leaders and network with them."

"This year’s event served as a ‘changing of the guard’ of sorts for Signal leaders," said SGM Vincent Epps, 30th Signal Battalion sergeant major, 516th Signal Brigade, Fort Shafter, Hawaii. "There are many Signal military people retiring soon. This is a chance for younger leaders to absorb some of the wisdom of our senior leaders. This is mentoring at the highest level."

"All questions should and will be answered at this forum," said CSM Andre Sexton, command sergeant major, 307th Signal Battalion, Camp Carroll, Korea. "This is a true senior-leadership conference. Leaders from the Regiment, command, brigades and battalions are here, committed to the Signal Regiment."

Although much of the emphasis at the symposium focused on new, state-of-the-art equipment, Cuviello reminded attendees of Signal’s greatest assets. "Despite our vast progression in technology, people are still our most important commodity. I believe we’re doing well in retaining the best communications personnel."

SFC Reed is assigned to Army Signal Command’s public-affairs office.

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