Regimental Division,
Office Chief of Signal

United States Army Signal Center, Fort Gordon, GA
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Header insignia for Distinguished Member biography pageDistinguished Member of the Regiment biography for

CW4 (Ret.) Paul A. Zeisman (1997)

CW4 (Ret.) Paul A. Zeisman has served the past 39 years in many Defense Department positions, including 32 years of active service in both the Air Force and Army. He currently is the deputy director for command, control, communications, computers and intelligence systems, Joint Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Chief Zeisman enlisted in the Air Force in June 1960. In 1964 he began the first of many joint assignments when he served with the U.S. Strike Command at MacDill AFB, Fla., then he was assigned to Pacific Command headquarters at Camp Smith, Hawaii. In December 1972 he transferred to the Army as a warrant officer and served with 122d Signal Battalion, Taiwan Defense Command, 7th Special Forces Group and 1st Special Operational Detachment-Delta at Fort Bragg.

In 1977, Chief Zeisman was hand-picked for the Army’s highest priority unit and has been making his mark as a Special Operations communicator ever since. Initially assigned as the unit communications security custodian and the electronics maintenance officer, he became known during the turbulent period of the unit’s inception as an officer who could get the job done under the most intense pressure. Chief Zeisman served as the primary communications officer, planning every operational contingency. He has deployed on all missions that required primary staff involvement or compartmented communications support. He also planned all communications for extremely sensitive operations supporting other government agencies. His overseas missions included the evacuation of U.S. and British personnel from Jordan during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War; Operation Joint Task Force Congo, 1967-68; contingency operations for the Gemini 10 and 12 spacecrafts; Operation Desert One (Iran), 1979-80; Operation Urgent Fury (Grenada), 1983; Lebanon, 1983-1985; Operation Just Cause (Panama), 1989-90; and Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm (Persian Gulf), 1990-91.

In 1979, Chief Zeisman was the primary Signal planner on an operation of significant national importance. He was the senior communicator on the ground and was responsible for all communications personnel and equipment throughout the operation. The Special Forces commander made him his personal communications planner. President Carter personally complimented Chief Zeisman for his efforts.

This operation required reliable, lightweight, instant and secure command-and-control communications across tremendous distances, but this capability did not exist. To fill the void, Chief Zeisman and his operations sergeant discovered that the PT-25 radio, with minor modifications, would also work over the U.S. Air Force’s tactical satellite system. He convinced the Army’s communications hierarchy to purchase and modify 20 PT-25 radios to fulfill the operation’s communications requirements. The radios provided DoD with the first secure manpack satellite communications system. This pioneering effort ensured secure voice communications between all locations, to include the foxhole, aircraft, naval vessels and the White House. The fact that the commander on the ground could instantly talk in a "secure" mode from the field location to the President over a manpack system was revolutionary. This radio was the prototype of the modern manpack satellite communications radios used throughout DoD today.

Chief Zeisman’s communications planning and performance in combat was tested many times on future endeavors. Even under intense fire during Operation Urgent Fury, he maintained communications with higher headquarters. Once on the ground, he established tactical command post communications, controlled internal nets and interfaced with other Special Operations forces. Chief Zeisman’s technical ability was further demonstrated by his leadership in developing state-of-the-art communications equipment for highly sensitive applications required in a hostile environment.

During another combat operation, Chief Zeisman was the primary communications planner for his unit during Operation Just Cause. He was an integral part of all planning, which began over a year before the actual invasion. Again, he deployed into combat and implemented the communications plans for several simultaneous operations and all follow-on missions.

Again, his unit was called to action during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and again he deployed as the principal communications architect for all sensitive operational planning. He was commended for his efforts by the Commander in Chief.

Upon his return, his project was technological advancements in combining Global Positioning System with satellite transceivers to provide battlefield commanders up-to-the-minute tracking capability of forces deployed across the battlefield. This initiative is an integral piece of the current Combat Survival Evader Locator program.

Chief Zeisman has served at every level of the Signal Regiment spectrum: as a radio operator carrying the heavy rucksack, coordinating and directing fire and aircraft in combat, and as a valued advisor to the highest-level decision-makers in the Special Operations community, including the Commander in Chief. He is a "living legend" in the Special Operations community and a tribute to the Signal Regiment.

His awards and decorations include Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal and Meritorious Service Medal with oak-leaf cluster. He received the Superior Civilian Service Award and the Signal Corps Regimental Association’s Silver Order of Mercury Award in 1996. The Signal Regiment inducted him as a Distinguished Member in 1997.

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CW4 Paul Zeisman
Zeisman, 1997.

Last modified on:
April 04, 2012

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