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32th fighting Phoenix activated.

On June 16, 2005, the 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas, activated its newest Network Support Company under the 4th Fires Brigade, the first Fires Brigade unit ever formed in the history of the United Stated Army. Designated as the 324th NSC, the new unit adopted the name Phoenix Company from the historical reference of the previous unit's activations and deactivations under the same name. 324th NSC was formed under the Army's new modular Unit of Action design.

Task organized under the 4th Fires Brigade as a separate company, 324th NSC functions as a separate entity from a battalion size element. The company's mission is to provide 24-hour operations supporting the Fires Brigade communications network. Soldiers in 324th NSC are primarily responsible for engineering, installing, operating, maintaining, and defending the Joint Enterprise theater network supporting operations of the 4th Fires Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, and Coalition Forces Land Component Command.

In the initial phase of the unit's activation in January 2005, there was no equipment, no personnel, and no designated company headquarters. Basically the unit only existed on paper, and in the mind of the 4th Fires Brigade Commander COL Allen W. Batschelet. On Jan. 25, 2005, the 324th NSC became a reality when I, CPT Michael V. Bush, was assigned to the unit as the company commander of the 324th NSC. As the company commander, I was handed assumption of command orders and instructed by the brigade commander to, " ... build me a Signal unit the Fires Brigade can be proud of."

With those instructions I recruited the best and brightest Signal Soldiers from Forts Hood and Gordon.

Within the first six months of the unit development there was only one junior non-commissioned officer to lead and develop the unit's standards, SGT (P) Alvin Brown, and twelve new privates assigned to the 324th NSC. Working with the Soldiers and resources available, I delegated all of the additional duties an E-7 or above would fulfill to privates. Under my guidance and careful watch, these Soldiers established all of the company commodity shops, higher-level accounts including: ammunition accounts and supply accounts. This unit was truly built by the outstanding Soldiers who are assigned to it.

In February 2005, the unit's First Sergeant, SFC(P) Allen Braswell, arrived at Fort Hood with no idea he would lead one of the finest Signal units in the U.S. Army. Braswell was also the Advanced Individual Training senior drill sergeant for most of the Soldiers in the unit. They knew the respect Braswell commanded and were aware of his expectation of excellence in all tasks. Once Braswell reported to the Fires Brigade he was frocked as a first sergeant and assigned to the 324th NSC. Under his care, Soldiers of the 324th NSC became highly trained, disciplined, and battle-focused.

Together we developed the unit's mission essential task list and mission. It was a challenge developing a METL and mission for my unit because it was the first time a unit of its kind was designed. Once METL and mission were approved by the Brigade Commander the we immediately set the unit on a path that would take the unit into deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom 05-07. According to deployment timeline we had only three months to do it.

As a result of the guidance from the first sergeant and myself and the tremendous efforts of the Soldiers of the 324th NSC, the unit received numerous accolades from the Fires Brigade Commander COL Allen W. Batschelet, the Assistant Deputy Commander (Support) BG David Halverson, and the Commanding General of 4th Infantry Division MG James Thurman. These awards include, but are not limited to: Division Commander's Safety streamer, the ADC(S) Maintenance Excellence Award (four times), and the Commanders Cup. 324th has won numerous maintenance awards from the 4th Infantry Division ADC(S) due to the Soldiers discipline and attention to detail in the area of maintenance. Maintenance of M1114 gun trucks is critical to the survival of Soldiers in theater who travel the roads of Iraq daily.

324th NSC was activated on June 16, 2005, in a ceremony held at Fort Hood, Texas. The unit's activation was held in conjunction with the activation of the 589th Brigade Support Battalion which herald in the completion of the 4th Fires Brigade, 4ID. The ceremony marked the activation of the U.S. Army's first ever Fires Brigade unit. It was a historic event for the U.S. Army because it was the first time that an Army Division was completely formed under the new Modular Design.

Dec. 3, 2006, 324th NSC deployed to Iraq in support of OIF 05-07. Currently stationed at Forward Operating Base Liberty, the unit supports full-spectrum operations in various locations around the country. Their missions require the Signal Soldier to be able to engineer, install, operate, maintain, and defend the JNTC network mesh against both physical threats and enemy electronic-countermeasure threats. Today's U.S. Army Signal Soldiers operate some of the most sophisticated network communications equipment in the world. Whether it is commercial-off-the-shelf technology, or tactical network encryption equipment, the Signal Soldier of today's Army is leading the way for U.S. military war fighter.

The Soldiers of 324th NSC currently provide signal support to maneuver elements across Iraq within the Multi-National Division--Baghdad, Multi-National Division--North, Multi-National Division--West, and Multi-National Corps--Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 05-07. To date 324th NSC has logged a total of 2300 mi in combat patrol hours traveling across Iraq as it provides Signal support to the theater. The Soldiers are highly trained in combat patrol tactics, combat life-saving skills, and small arms weapons. They use this training on a daily basis either training for or executing Ground Assault Convoys. The skill to understand, prepare, and execute a Ground Assault Convoy at a moment's notice is critical for all deployed Soldiers.

The elite leaders and Soldiers of the 324th Network Signal Company built a unit that not only has expertise to execute Signal support missions, but one that is disciplined, highly trained, and tough enough to sustain in combat.

The Fires Brigade Modified Table of Organization & Equipment is undergoing a drastic change in the near future. Plans are in development to change the traditional structure of the Signal company to a more rapidly deployable unit. The unit will support five battalion elements, as well as, the brigade. These plans are still in development and await approval from the Department of the Army.

CPT Bush is the commanding officer of 324th Network Signal Company, currently deployed to Iraq. His first duty station was with 1-503rd Infantry Battalion, Camp Casey in South Korea as an anti-tank platoon leader. He served as light infantry executive officer, a 2-20 FA Signal officer, a Signal officer with the 64th CSG Brigade.
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Author:Bush, Michael V.
Publication:Army Communicator
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2006
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