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Feature Stories

NEWS | Feb. 5, 2020

198th Expeditionary Signal Battalion Provide Contingency Communications

By Story by Capt. Valencia Scott 335th Signal Command (T) (P)

Joint Training Center, Jordan – Soldiers from the 198th Expeditionary Signal Battalion (ESB) embody the saying, “if you stay ready, you never have to get ready.” “We’re basically the voice, we keep everyone talking. There is no communication without us,” said Spc. Lewis Barclay, a communication post node (CPN) operator from 198th ESB, Alpha Company. Barclay is one of several Soldiers from the 198th ESB stationed at the Joint Training Center-Jordan (JTC -J) tasked with the mission to operate and maintain contingency communication systems in the event that primary communications fail.

Validation testing occurs every month to ensure that all communication equipment functions properly to include the CPN, the satellite transportable terminal (STT), and single switch shelter (SSS). Altogether, those systems create a contingency command post (CCP) which is a tactical communication center for key leaders to use. Monthly testing also allows Soldiers to evaluate the communication systems and strive for continuous improvement to better support their end users.

Spc. Annabell Dwiggins, a nodal networking system operator in 198th ESB, Charlie Company, operates the SSS, which is capable of supporting key leaders. Before the deployment, Dwiggins had only worked with the Tactical Hub Node (THN) during her advanced individual training (AIT) at Fort Gordon, Georgia, but the 198th ESB trained her on the SSS. She is confident that if a contingency were to occur, that they would have users up and running in no time.

Now a subject matter expert on the SSS, Dwiggins has paid it forward by cross training her battle buddies to include Spc. Zachary Heath, a Satellite Communication Operator and Maintainer. Spc. Heath operates and maintains the Phoenix satellite, which provides signal to the SSS, which he now knows how to operate “Cross training helped me to better understand how all signal pieces works together,” said Spc. Heath who also said he returned the favor and trained Spc. Dwiggins on operating the Phoenix.

This is the first deployment for Spc. Heath, Spc. Dwiggins, and many other junior Soldiers from the 198th ESB, however, training prior to the deployment helped to build their confidence. The 198th Expeditionary Signal Battalion is an Army National Guard unit based out of Wilmington, Delaware. The unit deployed to the U.S. Army Central area of operations in August 2019, however, they began training for the deployment in March 2019. “We did a lot of missions back home to prepare for this,” said Spc. Dwiggins.

Sgt. Angelique Williams, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the validation testing, said that training helped to build her confidence as well. “Leading a team with different assemblages is not easy because you’re not the subject matter expert of everything,” said Sgt. Williams. She also cross-trained on signal equipment prior to arriving at JTC-J and assures that her team is able to perform phenomenally if a contingency where to ever occur.

Though validation testing only occurs one week every month, the 198th ESB Soldiers understand that a contingency could occur at any moment and thus, the importance of their mission to always be ready.