Story by: Master Sgt. Daniel Griego
Posted: July 2, 2015
CAMP SWIFT, Texas – For three weeks from June 21 to July 11, more than 200 men and women of the Texas Army National Guard’s 136th Expeditionary Signal Battalion conduct pre-mobilization training at Camp Swift in Bastrop, Texas. This training, which focuses on basic warrior skills common to all Soldiers, prepares the troops for their upcoming deployment to Kuwait and surrounding countries.
“It’s good to have a foundation; it’s good to sharpen up all our skills,” said Spc. Dilan Goodwin, a network operator with C Company, 136th ESB. “You never know when you’re going to need it in combat.”
This training period is the first of two preparatory rounds for the battalion, with the second happening later this month at Fort Hood where they’ll train on their signal mission. Once at Fort Hood, the headquarters company and C Company will be joined by A Company from the Alabama National Guard.
“The ESB is a communications battalion, so what we’re going to be doing is providing backbone communications,” said Chief Warrant Officer Wade Vrtis, a network technician with HHC, 136th ESB. “We’re also going to be running help desks and technical control facilities.”
The organization’s primary objective overseas will be to provide network and voice capabilities to the main elements located throughout seven countries, including Kuwait, Jordan, The United Arab Emirates, and Egypt.
“It’s a very big mission, very important,” said Vrtis. “It feels like we have something to give and something to provide.”
The training here at Camp Swift focuses on the Soldiers’ traditional Army skills, from weapons familiarization and land navigation to react to contact drills and decontamination.
“The training that we have is very important in case things happen out of your control,” said Vrtis. “But mostly the mission is going to be communication mission, and these guys are pretty good when it comes to communications.”
This will be the first deployment for the signal battalion, which has been around for about six years and falls under the Texas National Guard’s Joint Task Force 136 (Maneuver Enhancement Brigade). For the deployment, the battalion will fall under the 160th Strategic Signal Brigade, the outfit responsible for providing the United States Central Command and Third United State Army with enterprise communications capabilities.
“We’re also expeditionary, so that means that we’re not afraid to be in a tactical environment,” said 1st Lt. Jouhee Han, the 136th ESB Battle Captain. “So we can set up just about anywhere.”
The Texas Guardsmen will serve for approximately nine months overseas for this deployment.
“I’m really honored to work with the Soldiers I’m working with,” said Han, “and I’m really honored to be a part of the battalion. I feel that this mission is very important.”
The farewell ceremony for the 136th Expeditionary Signal Battalion will take place July 18th at Houston’s Minute Maid Park before the Houston Astros square off against the Texas Rangers. This event marks the first time for a deployment ceremony in Texas to take place at a major sporting event.