Sending out signals

Written by  //  May 29, 2012  //  Feature Stories, News

By Cadet Joanna Mendez and Spc. Debra Cook, 146th Expeditionary Signal Battalion

STARKE, Fla. (May 29, 2012) — The 146th Expeditionary Signal Battalion fanned out across the state this year during annual training to provide satellite communications to each major command of the Florida National Guard from Tallahassee to Homestead.

Soldiers from Company C, 146th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, train on the Phoenix SHF Tri-band SATCOM Terminal during annual training at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center.

The mission of the 146th is to provide Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) supporting Federal and state assigned missions. Annual training 2012 was the first opportunity to collectively train, validate and exercise the capabilities of the Battalion’s Warfighter Information Network – Tactical Increment 1 (WIN-T INC1a) since receiving new equipment and updates.

During the first week of training, the satellite terminals were set up and systems tested at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center. The second week, each company packed up and took the mission to the different locations around the state to go live.

“We’ve had a few hiccups troubleshooting, but overall it’s gone pretty well,” said Staff Sgt. John Tompkins, Satellite Communications System Operator for Company C.

Cable System Installer Staff Sgt. Kenneth Hilling said the Soldiers had to run cable to all the equipment underground and aerial. “We had everything we needed to complete the job so things have run smoothly.”

The Phoenix SHF Tri-band SATCOM Terminal is one of the tactical satellite terminals used by the 146th. It provides multi-band capability and operates over commercial and military super high frequency satellites (SHF) for Army Expeditionary Signal Battalions (ESBs). The Phoenix is very versatile and can handle all bands with modems and carry four distant end users spanning almost all of the east coast. Because it is the primary means of field communications for the Solider, it is designed to be set up quickly, on any terrain, with a four person team within 30 minutes.

Soldiers from Company C, 146th Expeditionary Signal Battalion conduct training on the Satellite Terminal Trailer (STT) during annual training at Camp Blanding Joint Training Center.

“Charlie Company is exercising the capabilities of a heavy signal company,” said Capt. Lee O’Dell, commander of Company C. “This includes the motors maintenance, food support, operations and the primary mission of signal. The maintenance section has been completing services and repairing generators with the usual wear and tear problems.  At the same time we have pushed out most of our signal equipment – two Single Shelter Switch (SSS) systems that are built to service a Brigade Headquarters and connect to a coalition network and two Command Post Nodes (CPNs) which are built to support a battalion headquarters in remote and austere conditions.  In addition, we have been practicing emplacing Line of Sight Radios (LOS) which would be used to extend a network out up to 25 miles.”

Alpha Company went to Homestead, the furthest point of presence. “It was a ten-hour trip and movement went perfectly,” said Capt. Brian Weiblinger, commander of Company A.

“The 146th ESB had their equipment up and operational in the speed of light and further boosted my confidence that integrating our tactical equipment together can and will function,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Pedro Dominguez, Information Services Technician with the 50th Regional Support Group. “This can prove to be a very resourceful communications tool this upcoming Hurricane season.”

For the leadership of the 146th, the Annual Training was a success and helped to prepare the battalion for any potential domestic support missions as the 2012 Hurricane Season approaches.

“The 146th made history this AT by providing each MACOM Headquarters with real-time voice and data (NIPR) within an average 45 minutes position establishment,” said Lt. Col. Rodger T. Reynolds, commander of the 146th. “Never before has the Florida National Guard been able to tie all major headquarters together with its organic tactical assets. I am well pleased with our Soldiers’ efforts along with the advancements the 146th has made during the AT. We look to continue improving our operational readiness, ready for any assigned state DSCA or Federal missions.”