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Communication is key for Army Reserve readiness

By Sgt. Stephanie Ramirez | U.S. Army Reserve Command | Feb. 21, 2019

GREENVILLE, S.C. — During the 2017 hurricane season, the United States faced a series of devastating storms. 

Hurricane Maria, which hit Puerto Rico in September, proved to be particularly challenging due to the separation from the mainland. 

In the aftermath of that catastrophe, hundreds of first responders, both local and federal, worked together to bring rescue and relief efforts to the island. Among the many major issues to address was the communication capabilities of the affected area. 

After the storm, most of the signal towers on the island were down. As a result, several signal units in the U.S. Army Reserve went to Puerto Rico and set up their tactical equipment to provide a means of communication.

In order to hone their skills and remain ready to react, the Signal and Communication Office, also known as the G-6 section, of the 415th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Brigade out of Greenville, South Carolina, participated in a Command Post Exercise on Feb. 8-10, 2019. 

The G-6 section is responsible for providing the units on the ground with all their network capabilities, allowing leadership to communicate via radio and satellite. 

“During this CPE, we are providing the network communication support for the Brigade as they conduct a simulation mission, which requires them to react to a contamination outbreak,” said Spc. Jeffery Maddox, an information technology specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters company, 415th CBRN Brigade. “Being able to provide them with this capability is imperative to the success of any mission."

Each unit in the U.S. Army Reserve brings a different capability to the fight. In order to provide the units on the ground with communication capabilities, the 415th CBRN Brigade partnered with the 324th Expeditionary Signal Battalion. 

Maddox says partnering with another unit, in this case the 324th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 335th Signal Command (Expeditionary), allows his section to push out information much more efficiently. He also says the faster leadership receives information, the faster they can use it to successfully counter a threat. 

During the training scenario, the 324th Expeditionary Signal Battalion used a Satellite Transportable Terminal to provide signal transmission for the 415th CBRN Brigade. 

“Providing the satellite capability to the 415th CBRN Brigade gives all of us an opportunity to get hands-on training,” said Sgt. Andre D. Shaw, a radio transmission operator assigned to the 324th Expeditionary Signal Battalion. “It’s a mutually beneficial relationship because we are able to provide the unit the communication they need, and we get to train and troubleshoot our equipment at the same time,”

Morales says that her section doesn't have all of the big, cool satellites that allow her section to talk out. She also says the 324th Expeditionary Signal Battalion provides them with that capability. 

“In the U.S. Army Reserve, we are very dependent on the relationships we have with other units. Building those relationships during training scenarios such as this one, forces us to go through the processes and perfect them so that we are ready to react at any moment," said Morales.