149th Signal Company hosts career workshop

Story by Sgt. Cody Stagner, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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Spc. Christopher Via, a signal specialist with the 149th Signal Company, provides instruction on data transfer devices to Capt. Damien Zeigler, of the 206th Engineer Battalion, and 2nd Lt. Cassandra Mullins, of the 149th Signal Co., during signal training at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky., Jan. 10, 2015. The 149th Signal Co. hosted the event to provide instruction for signal operators in the brigade. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Cody J. Stagner)

FRANKFORT, Ky. – The 149th Signal Company hosted their first-ever leader development workshop for the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Jan. 10-11, 2015.

Col. Jerry Morrison, commander of the 149th MEB, had the vision to provide train-the-trainer instruction that would allow leaders from all five battalions to go back to their units and teach their Soldiers and operators on the ground.

“Across the brigade, as far as communication is concerned, we found a need to sync everybody together,” said 1st Sgt. Craig E. Anderson, the first sergeant for 149th Signal Company. “So this concept gets everybody in the same room to say, ‘hey, here are some strengths and weaknesses,’ and the signal company is taking the lead because we are nothing but communications.”

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Sgt. Mark Greene, Sgt. Brian Bingham and Sgt. 1st Class Gerald Sewell discuss the operation of a signal radio during the 149th Signal Company’s career workshop in Frankfort, Ky., Jan. 10, 2015. As a signal-specific unit, the company has training resources and specialists for instruction on data transfer and communication instruments. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Cody Stagner)

As a signal-specific unit, the company has training resources and specialists for instruction on data transfer and communication instruments. These courses can be given over the course of a single drill weekend.

“It is not an in-depth training,” said Anderson, a coordinator who helped in the overall concept and design of the training program. “But you get to see the faces to your right and to your left. That makes you a stronger team; knowing who is in your brigade, working together to make sure others have the same capabilities you might have, and coming together for an overall stronger brigade.”

In order to build a stronger brigade, the signal company had to deal with the technical challenge of how to set up a relay station between separate units or battalions during annual training. To do this, the unit uses the Defense Advanced GPS Receiver and Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System.

“Let’s say two units are running different frequencies and need to communicate,” said Spc. Jessica Garner, a trainer in the 149th Signal Company. “After using a DAGR to set the atomic time of all SINCGARS radios, it may take a separate vehicle and connections shared with both units to relay that important message.”

Beyond synergy and basic radio skills, the company has included training on the brigade’s newly fielded Joint Capabilities Release, a friendly-forces tracking device that also allows secure messaging and data transfer.

“We are just getting into the cycle of using this platform,” said Capt. Joe Fontanez, commander for the 149th Signal Company and lead coordinator. “There are tasks involved that we’ve never really had to do before because it went from an unclassified system to classified. So we are trying to get people hands-on training to really understand this system a little better.”

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Spc. Jessica Garner and Spc. Tadd Gilmore, with the 149th Signal Company prepare a Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky., Jan. 10, 2015. Members of the 149th Signal Co. provided signal training during this two-day event. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Cody J. Stagner)

Bringing in occupation-specific Soldiers created an opportunity worth exploiting for the brigade. Instructors had the chance to give the attendees insight into Army career-advancing schools needed and how to progress through the ranks by taking charge of one’s own career.

“We all manage our own careers,” said Fontanez. “It’s really important for Soldiers to understand that and know how to progress through the organization to meet their goals.”

According to Fontanez, the unique training successfully promoted synergy, networking, career progression, camaraderie and profession of arms among the brigade’s signal corps.

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