Staff Sgt. Robert W. Craig, 53rd Signal Battalion (SATCON)
WAHIAWA — “Defenders” satellite controllers with Delta Company work 12-hour shifts 24/7/365, so being able to get out of the office every once in a while is always good for morale.
Getting out of the office on a sunny Hawaiian morning tends to make morale even better.
On the 6th of August, Soldiers, noncommissioned officers and members of the Australian Defense Force of Delta Company, 53rd Signal Battalion, “Defenders” were able to do just that while getting a chance to visit the Kunia Satellite Communications (SATCOM) facility.
The visit was planned as a cross training opportunity between the Soldiers and Australian partners of Delta Co. and the Soldiers of the 30th Sig. Bn. The trip would include a tour of the facility, as well as classes on several topics, such as daily operations and accessing carriers using satellite test resources coordinated for the day.
Both groups also had plenty of questions on their mind about how day-to-day operations compare between a SATCOM facility and a Wideband Satellite Operations Facility (WSOC).
Capt. Ben Liles, commander of Delta Co., fully endorsed the training event.
“Conducting this cross training is a great opportunity for our service members to get out of the WSOC and interact with our DOD wideband satellite customers and see the work they do,” Liles said.
Being able to train at Kunia on some of the daily tasks is important for the Soldiers of the 53rd Sig. Bn.
While Delta Co. does have its own SATCOM equipment, that antenna is rarely used to host communications links.
Most Defenders can spend an entire tour in a WSOC directing missions’ satellite shots to come up and down without ever actually having transmitted information over a satellite themselves.
The training also provided a great opportunity for the Delta Co. Defenders to learn about and use some equipment they may have not seen since they were privates in their Advance Individual Training at Fort Gordon, Ga.
“It was good training” said Spc. Charles Rodgers, “getting to learn some of their baseband equipment. It’s good to get to know their side of things, how they go about doing what they have to do to make a mission happen.”
As the classes were winding down, the grill was fired up, and soon the pleasant aroma of cooked burgers and hot dogs signified that lunch was prepared and training was complete for the day.
This break provided another great opportunity for the visit that the cross training and classes couldn’t provide: getting to know fellow Soldiers and Australian Partners in the SATCOM community. Being able to sit down and swap stories and experiences was one of the most rewarding parts of the whole visit for a lot of the Soldiers and Australian partners involved.
“One of the best parts for me was getting to meet some fellow Soldiers on the island who I haven’t had the opportunity to interact with in person before.” said Spc. Ryan McNeal. “I work with Kunia regularly, but I never knew who exactly was on the other end of the phone call or e-mail.
“It’s nice to be able to put a face to our DOD wideband satellite users and their facility now,” McNeal added.