Strategic signal company supports Eighth Army tactical communications
USAG DAEGU, South Korea -- The 169th Signal Company, 36th Signal Battalion, 1st Signal Brigade, at Camp Walker has been tasked to provide network support for Eighth Army and other personnel during the 2014 Key Resolve training exercise at Area 4 in South Korea.
Usually maintainers and operators for strategic network operations, the 169th Signal Company must also provide assistance for tactical network operations to allow success of the exercise missions taking place at Camp Walker.
Warrant Officer Kiereece M. Simpson, a Network Technician for the 169th Signal Company at the South Communication Node at Camp Walker, said his Soldiers are supporting a variety of functions for Eighth Army and personnel set-up on the airfield and at Camp Oscar.
"We are providing them with Non-Classified Internet Protocol Router Network (NIPR), Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPR), Desktop support and other network support," said Simpson. "It's a very unique situation to put our strategic assets with Eighth Army's tactical assets."
This support has been planned in advance, long before the Key Resolve exercise ever began, explained Simpson.
"They have various tactical assets that have to integrate with our strategic assets, so there was a big coordination piece that took place earlier," Simpson said. "We got service orders for their requests on what they will need on the circuits so we could be ready to provide it to them once the exercise began."
Staff Sgt. Michael L. Milsap, Network Operations non-commission officer in charge for 169th Signal Company, said preparing for exercises requires a lot of late nights and weekends, because the requested circuits have to be prepared, validated and credited for the integration of new units and their domains and equipment.
However, meeting the Eighth Army's network needs for the exercise is only just the beginning of the job for the 169th Signal Company. With many additional new users and equipment being added to the equation at Area 4, more trouble tickets and issues arise. Soldiers from the company also have to maintain security of the networks and diagnose any problems that arise.
"We are busy, especially during the exercise, because we do a lot of customer interaction," Milsap said. "We go to the location, physically check issues out and try to keep everything operational. That's our meat and potatoes."
Chief Warrant Officer 2 David A. Meyer, the Area 4 Network Manager and Southern Node Facility Manager, said Soldiers go out, find problems and do all they can to make sure the networks coming from the data center is operational for the customers.
"The work load increases during Key Resolve, because they have requirements and needs that are unique and require more than the average requests we receive," said Meyer. "A lot of what we do is a combination of providing customer service level support, making sure the networks remain secure and that we are doing it in a timely manner."
The networks that the 169th Signal Company are in charge of operating and maintaining are important to mission success, Meyer added. "We are the back end for Col. Paul H. Fredenburgh III, 1st Signal Brigade Commander, and his reach back to Guam. We are pulling the warfighter networks from Guam right from this center."
Spc. Jessica D. Pursley, a Network Technician that is participating in her third exercise, said that during the Key Resolve the company is not only responsible for providing customer support, but also must still complete their day-to-day operations. The increased workload is not a bad thing, Pursley said.
"Exercises are a great learning opportunity even though they provide a new set of difficulties," said Pursley. "But, they are a great way for new Soldiers to get fully trained and integrated into our sections to become successful technicians. There is plenty of hands-on practice during exercises."
The 1st Signal Brigade enables joint and combined command, control, communications, computers, and information management operations throughout Korea to support United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, United States Forces Korea, and Eighth Army's ability to lead, direct and maneuver available forces during armistice, crisis, or war.