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Evolutionary theater support.

The first expeditionary Signal battalion to deploy in support of a theater-wide mission is setting a record of accomplishments that should be the model for future mission planning and doctrinal updates.

The 40th Expeditionary Signal Battalion was one of the first three signal battalions to undergo signal transformation to the new expeditionary signal battalion configuration in 2007.

Army modularity resulted in the inactivation of signal battalions and brigades at the division and corps level, and it embedded network support companies in corps and division headquarters, brigade combat teams, and selected multifunctional brigades. For units or ad hoc headquarters which do not have organic signal capability, the expeditionary signal battalion was created to pool tactical signal capability in order to provide that capability when needed.

For the Signal Corps, the expeditionary signal battalion presents continuing opportunities for leading and training signal Soldiers and for integrating the Army's most modern tactical communications equipment including Phoenix satellite terminals, Joint Network Node, Command Post Node and the upgraded Single Shelter Switch(v)3.

Signal Transformation and ESBs in OIF

Signal Corps transformation was critical to enabling Army modularity. When it comes to tactical communications, transformation also eliminated the distinction between Echelons Corps and Below and Echelons Above Corps. Before Signal transformation, ECB signal battalion equipment, skill sets, training and doctrine was significantly different from EAC signal units. The JNTC equipment in the ESB now replicates the capability of a brigade combat team and division network support company, which allows ESB assets including JNN and CPN to be employed to reinforce and regenerate these units or extend their capability with line of sight transmission systems.

Additionally, the Joint/Area Signal Company (C Company) of the ESB brings two high capacity SSS(v)3 systems, four CPNs, TAC-SAT and Troposphere Scatter range extension capable of supporting large command posts such as a Joint Task Force or an Army Service Component Command post. The Joint/ Area Signal Company also brings a large cable and wire capability, which is in high demand around the world today.

The Army's first three expeditionary signal battalions deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2007, demonstrating to war fighters their full spectrum capability. The 63rd ESB and the 44th ESB were attached to Multi-National Corp-Iraq in support of corps and division elements, including many remote camps and stations. The 63rd ESB also provided a company in a more traditional ESB role supporting the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which has no organic Signal Company, in combat operations in Iraq. Meanwhile the 40th ESB, along with the attached 69th Signal Company (Cable and Wire), deployed as theater assets under the operational control of the 160th Signal Brigade and the tactical control of Multi-National Force-Iraq to operate and maintain the strategic communications network.

The 69th Signal Company is a theater asset not organic to the ESB. However the 11th Signal Brigade attached the company to the 40th ESB at their home station, Fort Huachuca, Az., for training and oversight. Although the 69th Signal Company and the 40th ESB were deployed on separate orders, they were authorized by the gaining theater signal command, the 335th SC(T)(fwd)(prov), to retain their pre-existing C2 relationship in order to provide the best support to the theater.

Most mission support provided by the 40th ESB and the 69th Signal Company consisted of installing, operating, maintaining and defending the strategic communications network, known as the operational base network in Iraq. Over the six years of its existence this network had had matured into the largest operational base network ever to support an active war zone.

The 40th ESB task organized all available assets to support forces in Iraq. The battalion also provided augmentation to the two strategic signal battalions in the theater, 54th Signal Battalion in Kuwait and the 25th Signal Battalion in Afghanistan. The 40th ESB also provided a tactical detachment consisting of two JNNs, five CPNs, and two Phoenix terminals to support U.S. Army Central's Early Entry Command Post and other tactical signal requirements in the CENTCOM area of operations outside of Iraq.

Having trained on tactical equipment in the months leading up to the deployment, the Soldiers, NCOs and officers of the 40th ESB and the 69th Signal Company, together known as Team 40th, had to quickly adjust to the strategic communications environment and become proficient in their mission as the Army component O&M unit in Iraq.

Fortunately, the skill sets developed during ESB fielding translated directly to the battalion's ability to effectively deliver Defense Information Systems Network and other enterprise services in Iraq. The Promina 400 and 800, Cisco Call Managers, routers and switches, firewalls and intrusion detection systems, IGX tactical switches that make up the JNN and SSS(v)3 are the same key communications components in all 14 technical control facilities operated by the 40th ESB throughout Iraq.

This commonality of equipment and skill sets later facilitated the transition of the 40th back to their tactical configuration and skill sets upon conclusion of their 15 month combat tour.

40th ESB Soldiers and Contract Partners

A critical factor in the success of the battalion was the continuity of knowledge and experience provided by contract employees. Over 450 Soldiers worked alongside over 500 employees from ITT, GDIT, and Data Path. The ITT employees in Iraq and throughout Southwest Asia work under a fixed O&M contract known as Total Army Communications Southwest Asia, Central Asia, Africa, funded by Network Command (NETCOM)/9th Signal Command (Army) and administered by 160th Signal Brigade. The mix of Soldier and contracted personnel allowed USARCENT to operate, maintain, and defend the operational base network in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan and provide tactical communications throughout the theater by augmenting the 160th Signal Brigade with only one ESB.

The 40th ESB exercised a unique and effective contract oversight model for the TACSWACAA contractors in Iraq. On behalf of their higher headquarters, 160th Signal Brigade, the 40th ESB Executive Officer acted as the contracting officer's representative and each of seven company commanders acted as the contracting officer's technical representative for their respective sites.

While the ITT employees performed O&M functions as directed by the contract, the Soldiers made the network operations accessible to the war fighters. That is, like they do with a tactical network, the Signal battalion ensured the network was available, flexible, and responsive to the needs of the customers, MNF-I and MNC-I. Soldiers at every site performed help desk operations, cable installation and maintenance, and assisted with technical control, network and system administration, and transmission systems. The battalion automation technician and NCOIC ran the Camp Victory LAN shop, which installed, monitored, and maintained over 1500 switches across the Camp Victory complex. Soldiers provided customer interface and were critical in facilitating coordination with various other contractors responsible for sustaining Signal facilities. The battalion S3 provided NetOps at the O&M level, providing network monitoring, configuration, and troubleshooting under the direction of the Joint Network Operations Control Center--Iraq, and working with theater information assurance, enterprise operations, and wide area network engineers to implement network enhancements, address network priorities, and coordinate authorized service interruptions. The battalion electronic maintenance technician along with a contracted power engineer and electrician planned and performed power and equipment upgrades.

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On-site signal company leadership along with their ITT site lead counterparts maintained continuous and direct contact with customers and local leaders at each base, enabling them to determine requirements and support the war fighters' priorities. This structure enabled the MNF-I CJ6 to leverage the contract while retaining flexibility to maneuver the network using the 40th ESB as a single point of contact for network connectivity and delivering enterprise services across 14 bases in Iraq.

The 40th ESB headquarters coordinated resources and expertise across organization levels throughout the theater and collaborated with MNF-I, MNC-I, and MNSTC-I headquarters and other customers to identify requirements and build the network infrastructure on behalf of the 335th SC(T). Each company ensured equipment and material requirements were sent to the battalion S3, who worked with the S4 to prepare and process funding requests. As a theater asset TACON to the war fighter, the battalion had the flexibility to process these requests through either MNF-I, 160th Signal Brigade and the 335th SC(T) depending on the funding priorities of each.

Cable and Wire Support to the Theater

The ESB is authorized 10 MOS 25L wire and cable specialists in alpha and bravo companies, and another 20 in charlie company. By task organizing the attached 69th Signal Company with its organic companies, the battalion was able to provide resident expertise to plan, engineer, repair and install cable and wire infrastructure on demand at each of 14 bases in Iraq. The 40th ESB employed the 69th Signal Company command post to run the technical control facility, help desk, and cable operations at Taji Base, while its Soldiers provided installation of fiber optic, copper, and CAT 5 cable at Taji and across Southwest Asia.

This capability was critical everywhere in the theater because cable infrastructure requirements had grown well beyond those of the original O&M contract or any of the customers' ability to keep up with demand. Although many large cable projects were put on contract by the customer, the 335th TSC and MNF-I CJ6 often relied on Army cable capabilities where funding and time were limited. Examples include the movement of U.S. military and civilian personnel out of the Palace Compound in the International Zone to Victory Base complex; installation of the first commercial fiber demarcation facility at Victory Base; ongoing end user building and area distribution node remediation across Iraq; movement of a U.S. division headquarters to Basrah and the expansion of several bases in Iraq in response to the changing battlefield.

Tactical Signal Support to the Theater

USARCENT's 385th Signal Company was inactivated early in the 40th ESB's tour. To satisfy the need for a tactical capability for the EECP and to meet other theater tactical requirements outside of Iraq, the 40th provided a detachment of two JNNs, five CPNs, two TSC-156 Phoenix terminals, along with detachment leadership and support. This signal detachment, known as Detachment 40, brought unprecedented Signal capability to USARCENT to conduct C2 for full spectrum operations as demonstrated in Exercise Lucky Warrior 2008.

As expected, shortfalls emerged in using a signal support package designed to support a brigade size element to support an ASCC headquarters. The Joint/Area Signal Company was designed for just this type of mission. The Promina 800 and over 40 user cases provided by the company's SSS(v)3 gives the increased customer capacity and network interface capability required for larger headquarters in austere locations. This capability is crucial as a way to get a technical control facility-like capability on the ground fast especially when a permanent facility is not appropriate due to cost and time constraints.

Another shortfall in the detachment operations was the lack of technical support for the platoon when separated from its parent ESB. A network technician (MOS 250N), an automation technician (MOS 251), and NETOPS support is required to augment the detachment and facilitate its operation independent of the battalion.

The 160th Signal Brigade, which is a theater strategic signal brigade and the ARCENT G6 were not equipped nor staffed to plan, manage and sustain a tactical network. The 11th Signal Brigade, which is a theater tactical signal brigade, was deployed in support of MNC-I and therefore not available to divert assets or exercise Network Operations in support of ARCENT requirements outside of Iraq. In spite of the shortfalls, Detachment 40 did a superb job successfully providing support to ARCENT exercises and to AR CENT units across the AOR. Det. 40 gave the G6 staff the experience they needed to plan for future support requirements.

Conclusion

The 40th Expeditionary Signal Battalion demonstrated the flexibility, agility, and capability the ESB brings to war fighters at all echelons across the full spectrum of operations. As the first ESB to deploy in support of a theater-wide mission, the 40th together with its contract employees and the 69th Signal Company, created a world class team that successfully accomplished the largest mission ever given to a single signal battalion. Their model for supporting strategic, tactical, engineering and installation requirements across the theater should be considered in future mission planning and doctrinal updates.

ACRONYM QuickScan

ACR--Armored Cavalry Regiment

ARCENT--U. S. Army Central Command

ASCC--Army Service Component Command

BCT--Brigade Combat Team

C2--command and control

CENTCOM--Central Command

COR--Contracting Officer's Representative

COTR--Contracting Officer's Technical Representative

CPN--Command Post Node

DISN--Defense Information Systems Network

ECB--Echelons Corps and Below

EAC--Echelons Above Corps

EECP--Early Entry Command Post

IA--Information assurance

JNN--Joint Network Node

JNCC-I--Joint Network Operations Control Center--Iraq

JTF--Joint Task Force

LAN--Local Area Network

O & M--Operate and Maintain

OPCON--Operational Control

OIF--Operation Iraqi Freedom

MNC-I--Multi-National Corps-Iraq

MNF-I--Multi-National Forces-Iraq

MNSTC-I--Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq

MOS--Military Occupation Specialty

NETCOM--Network Command

NetOps--Network Operations

NCOIC--Noncommissioned Officer in Charge

JNTC--Joint Network Transport Capability

SSS(v)3--Single Shelter Switch

TACON--Tactical Control

TACSAT--Tactical Communications Satellite

TCF--Technical Control Facility

TROPO--Troposphere Scatter

TSC--Theater Signal Command

TACSWACAA--Total Army Communications Southwest Asia, Central Asia, Africa

USARCENT--U.S. Army Central Command
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Article Details
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Author:Jantzen, Linda
Publication:Army Communicator
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2009
Words:2180
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