Face of Defense: Reserve Soldier Signals for Readiness
ALBERTA, Canada, June 15, 2017 Television sets, radios and satellite equipment became putty in the hands of signal and communication Army reservists as they sharpened their skills by providing operational services to U.S. and Canadian forces during the Maple Resolve 17 training exercise held at Camp Wainwright here May 14-29.
We re able to take over certain radio or television sets, either analog or digital, which we can [use to] put out our own message to a large audience, said Army 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. soldiers supported Maple Resolve 17, the Canadian army s premiere brigade-level validation exercise. As part of the exercise the U.S. Army provided 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, Gomez said. 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.
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.
If We Can t Talk, We Can t Fly
For aviation, they re the only way we can talk to the ground guys, said Army Capt. Mark Chambers, with the Maryland Army National Guard’s 1-224th Security and Support Battalion. Once the battle starts, everything changes. We could be landing in the wrong area or the wrong time. Pickup times or pickup zones could have been adjusted. 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. Setup 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.
Gomez, a four-year Army reserve veteran, 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 with different crews and different people, he said. I carry it over to here, so I can help my soldiers out and lead in the right direction.
Gomez, part of the Army Reserve’s 306th Psychological Operations Company based at Joint Training Base Los Alamitos, California, said he can see how his work directly impacts the theater of operations.
I get to see a lot of messages and what Psyops actually does, he 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.