Signal Regiment History
The Signal Regiment was activated June 1, 1986, as a component of the U.S. Army regimental system, or USARS. The USARS concept was approved in 1981 by the Chief of Staff "to provide the soldier with a continuous identification with a single regiment and to support that concept with a personal system that would increase a soldier's probability of serving recurring assignments with his regiment."
The need for such a system derived, at least in part, from the Army's traditional manning system. While the American army over time has been successful in fostering individual enterprise and self-confidence, it has had less success, according to Russell Weigley in History of the United States Army, "[i]n instilling group cohesion that will hold squads, platoons and companies together under pressure. ..." Learning from the past, in the early 1980s the U.S. Army conceded there was a definite problem and developed the USARS concept, labeled in December 1982 as "the new manning system." Under NMS, soldiers were to be assigned to regiments and remain there throughout their careers.
The USARS concept as set forth in Army Regulation 600-82 includes the total Army. It stipulates that all soldiers, with certain exceptions, are to belong to a regiment/corps. The USARS concept provides:
In addition, USARS offers regimental affiliation to soldiers, thereby permitting the continuous association or identification with a combat-arms regiment, combat support/combat service support or special branch throughout their careers. Under the system, CS/CSS/special branches operate on a "whole branch concept as a Corps, but within the Corps, or special branch, carrying on the activities and traditions of a regiment." The Signal Regiment falls under the CS/CSS/special branch regimental plan of USARS.
Aspects of the regimental plan include:
According to the affiliation policy, each CS/CSS/special branch/engineer officer and enlisted soldier becomes automatically affiliated with his/her respective Regiment/special branch "upon graduation from a branch/MOS-producing school."
On March 25, 1983, the deputy chief of staff for personnel tasked each CS/CSS branch chief to design a regimental system best meeting the needs and requirements of each branch. A month later, during preparation for the Signal Functional Review, the Signal Center briefed several Signal Regiment general officers on a regimental concept creating Signal regiments along nine functional lines, or in essence, nine regiments (light division, heavy division, airborne, air assault, special operations, two corps, echelons above corps, and air-traffic control). The functional regiment approach was favored because it accommodated all branch members, included reserve components, created natural "communities" needed in establishing unit cohesion, enabled a degree of worldwide rotation by soldiers within a given regiment, developed a "force more knowledgeable of and sensitive to the communications requirements of the combat forces of the Army," and reduced the "get-up-to-speed time for soldiers rotating within [their] parent regiment." Headquarters Department of the Army, however, directed that no action be taken on this concept nor on any other CS/CSS branch initiative.
At Training and Doctrine Command's request two years later, in June 1985, the Signal Center submitted a revised regimental plan including the original nine regiments but not including the reserve components. On June 8, 1985, the Signal Center was tasked to develop the regimental implementation plan for the Signal Corps. The Army Chief of Staff instructed that 13 CS/CSS regiments be implemented during fiscal year 1986. On Aug. 14 TRADOC requested the Signal Center revise its plan along the whole branch concept and submit it to TRADOC for forwarding to the Army Chief of Staff for approval. The Signal Center complied with TRADOC's request Aug. 19.
Aspects of the Signal Center's proposal included:
In January 1986 the Army Chief of Staff approved the Signal Corps' regimental plan. Events then moved quickly. On March 5, 1986, the regimental colors and distinctive insignia were approved. Then, as authorized under General Order 21, the Signal Regiment and regimental program were activated June 1. The Signal Corps was one of the first combat-support branches to activate its regiment. The event, coupled with a change-of-command ceremony, officially was celebrated at the Signal Center June 3, 1986. At that ceremony, MG Thurman Rodgers, commander of U.S. Army Signal Center and Fort Gordon, became the first Chief of Signal under the Army's new regimental system before relinquishing command of the Signal Center to MG Bruce Harris, who then assumed the office of Chief of Signal. CSM Cecil Miles, who participated in the ceremony, became the Command Sergeant Major of the Signal Corps and, as such, the first noncommissioned officer to perform regimental sergeant major duties. In addition, a regimental march, written by SSG Johnny Seay, a member of Fort Gordon's 434th Army Band, was played publicly for the first time.
As part of the regimental plan, on Sept. 23, 1986, the Signal Center's two training brigades officially were reflagged or redesignated. The 1st Signal School Brigade and 2d Signal School Brigade became the 15th Signal Brigade and 29th Signal Brigade, respectively. The 29th Signal Brigade was later inactivated under School Model 89.
Under the regimental system, the director of the Office Chief of Signal (formerly the Proponent Office) became the regimental adjutant. The regimental adjutant, as authorized under AR 600-82, is responsible for monitoring and maintaining "the health of the Signal Regiment." The adjutant directs and/or participates in activities promoting the regimental system and fostering the Signal soldier's affiliation with the regiment (for example, liaison with units, regimental-association programs, guest speaker, rites-of-passage activities, CONUS/OCONUS visits to major Signal Regiment elements). In essence, the regimental adjutant serves as the spokesperson for the Chief of Signal concerning the Signal Regiment. As MG Leo Childs, former commander of the Signal Center, said, the adjutant is "... responsible for all administrative procedures for the Signal Corps regimental system throughout the world. That means wherever the Army is, there's a Signal soldier. The job of the regimental adjutant is to support that soldier."
The regimental adjutant is also a member of the Signal Corps Regimental Association. SCRA is an organization comprised of Signal soldiers and associated civilians, whose purpose is to provide an opportunity for interested individuals to aid in preserving for posterity the proud heritage of the U.S. Army Signal Regiment, and to ensure the lessons of history and the proud traditions of the Regiment are not forgotten by future generation.
Other aspects of the regimental plan are:
Most of these programs are administered by the Regimental NCO. Each program is intended to foster esprit de corps, unit cohesion and affiliation, stability, commitment, and a sense of appreciation of Signal Regiment history, all vital elements in the USARS concept and its overall goal of increasing combat effectiveness.
Excerpted from "The Signal Corps and the U.S. Army Regimental System" by Dr. Kathy Rae Coker, command historian, Signal Center and Fort Gordon, November 1989.
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