Now halfway through a nine-month deployment, the mission set for the 62nd Signal Battalion, 11th Signal Brigade, is “outstanding,” said Lt. Col. John P. Gregor, battalion commander.
“Soldiers are dedicated to the accomplishment of our goals and working incredibly hard to meet expectations,” he said last week via email from U.S. Central Command in the Middle East. “The mission is always evolving and adjusting in scope and responsibility.”
The battalion deployed about 300 soldiers in August to serve as the tactical communications provider for the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. Soldiers provide communications in numerous countries and locations that are continually changing, Gregor said.
Soldiers must adapt to the adjustment and supply reliable communications to customers.
Located between the European and Pacific combatant commands, Central Command’s area of responsibility covers the “central” area of the globe, according to its website. The area consists of 20 countries: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Yemen.
“We have encountered numerous changes, but the biggest is the movement of equipment and personnel,” he said. “The countries we have soldiers in all have different entry requirements. First and foremost are the visa requirements to work in a country. The next challenge is custom requirements for equipment in each different country.
“Lastly, we have worked hard with the Air Force to ensure our movement planning is 100 percent accurate.”
Aside from overcoming these challenges, Gregor said he is especially proud of the way soldiers came together to validate new equipment. The unit was one of the first signal battalions to be upgraded to the colorless core capability.
Soldiers worked with the unit’s sister battalion to test and validate the new equipment, and upgrade units to now operate a colorless core network.
To ensure morale stays high, the battalion has provided multiple opportunities to build friendships downrange including Christmas parties, trips, strong bond events, fun runs and football games. Gregor said soldiers are able to maintain good contact with their families back home, and he’s looking to add free wireless Internet by February.
“The outpouring of support from the Central Texas area has been spectacular,” Gregor said. “As always, the towns of Killeen, Copperas Cove, Harker Heights, Belton and Nolanville have led the way with support. I personally look forward to getting home and joining my son for little league baseball at Lions Park.”