WAINWRIGHT, Canada –
Television sets, radios and even satellite equipment became putty in the hands of signal and communication Army Reserve Soldiers participating in Maple Resolve 17 as they sharpened their skills by providing operational services to U.S. and Canadian forces training at Camp Wainwright, Alberta.
“We’re able to take over certain radio or television sets, either analog or digital, which we can put out our own message… to a large audience,” said Spc. Cody Gomez, a microwave systems operator maintainer. “If something happens, or something is going to happen, we can get a good message to ‘get out’ or ‘help’s on its way.’”
More than 650 U.S. Army Soldiers are supporting Maple Resolve 17, the Canadian Army’s premiere brigade-level validation exercise running May 14-29. As part of the exercise, the U.S. Army is providing a wide array of combat and support elements, including sustainment, psychological operations, public affairs, aviation and medical units.
“This lets us know what we can and cannot do,” said Gomez, a native of Los Angeles, California. “The weather here is a little unpredictable, so it’s getting us ready and set so we know it (radio equipment) can go so high or be set up at certain times. If the weather gets too extreme and we have to take it down, we know our limitations.”
The U.S. Army Reserve number one priority is readiness. Knowing how long Gomez and his peers can keep the signal going or how far they can push the equipment, gives life to vital missions across the full spectrum of military operations.
“For aviation, they’re the only way we can talk to the ground guys,” said Capt. Mark Chambers, a native of Abington, Maryland, and member of the 1-224th Security and Support Battalion of the Maryland National Guard. “Once the battle starts, everything changes. We could be landing in the wrong area or the wrong time. Pick up times or pick up zones could have been adjusted: did they (Soldiers) make it all the way through the objective or did they have to withdraw? Communications are absolutely critical; if we can’t talk, we can’t fly.”
No pressure, right?
“You want to move fast, but keep your head steady; it’s very easy to try and be rushed, and if you mess up one thing, you mess up the whole system,” Gomez explains. “Set up can take about 30-40 minutes. Tear down takes about half the time. You want to make sure… everything is done step by step and correctly.”
An Army Reserve Soldier of four years, Gomez feels his civilian experience as a supervisor for a shipping company gives him an edge in the field.
“It really helps build my character up and teaches me how to operate different crews and different people,” Gomez said. “I carry it over to here, so I can help my Soldiers out and lead in the right direction.”
Gomez, part of the 306th Psychological Operations based in Joint Training Base Los Alamitos, can even see first hand how his work directly impacts the theater of operations.
“I get to see a lot of messages and what Psy Ops actually does,” Gomez said. “We get to actually view the videos and listen to the audio, and we get to see the impact it makes on different parts of the world. It’s pretty nice to see how we’re actually making a difference and how we in the signal field can make a difference in the rest of the world.”