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NEWS | June 27, 2023

Signal Soldiers establish connectivity at a remote air base

By Capt. Janeen Phelps 143rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)

On a remote air base in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, signal officers recall, over dinner, the progress their team has made in establishing a near-complete communication system.

The signal team on-ground comprised of U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 143d Expeditionary Sustainment Command, Capt. Devin Lajoie, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Matthew Morgan, and South Carolina National Guard Soldiers from the 151st Expeditionary Signal Battalion.

Together, these Soldiers belong to the 1st Theater Sustainment Command Operational Command Post and are responsible for the mission of providing reliable communication throughout the 1st TSC Alternate Command Post, an air base designed to serve as an alternate location for the 1st TSC OCP to function and service an influx of personnel at any given moment.

This mission, which began almost six months prior, required them to fall in on what the exiting unit had already established and make whatever changes or upgrades to bring the communications network up. Now approaching completion, the 143d ESC will hand the responsibilities over to the team’s replacements—a subordinate unit within the 1st TSC OCP.

“When we first got here, all of the operations, as far as communications go, was basically functioning out of one room,” said Lajoie. “Now we’re at almost 30 workstations, with another 130 potential workstations throughout the entire building wired out and ready to go.”

Before the team arrived, the air base ran off a tactical secure internet protocol router/non-secure internet protocol router access point system. This system only provided 20 megabits per second. “That doesn’t provide a lot of bandwidth for a lot of users,” said Lajoie.

The team can now boast the implementation of Starlink terminals, which has increased bandwidth ten-fold across the base. “It’s a commercial solution that provides a larger bandwidth for our strategic services on-site,” said Lajoie.

“Our main mission here, initially, was really just to support the tactical satellites links,” Morgan added, “but Capt. Lajoie has done a good job at making partnerships with the 151st command team. So now, this is the second or third time to do these huge surge efforts to just run thousands and thousands of feet of [fiber-optic] cable.”

Investing in the Army’s people, reorganizing forces, developing new equipment, and adopting new concepts on how to fight allows the organization to maintain superiority over any potential adversary.

The Army’s modernization efforts require partnerships between joint force entities, research and development entities, partners in industry, academia, and the tech sector.

Morgan emphasized that for the signal team to carry out their mission at the air base, coordination is also required signal teams from U.S. Army Central Command, 1TSC-OCP, 1TSC-Main Command Post at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Area Support Group-Kuwait, and Regional Cyber Center-Southwest Asia.

“Malleability,” stated Lajoie. “I think that’s kind of a good way to define what we’re trying to do here. What we’re trying to do is be malleable and set up a network backbone that will allow for whatever mission a unit decides to have on-site.”

Establishing an efficient communications network in remote areas will successfully posture the Army of 2030 to win in a multi-domain operating environment.