Signal unit connects battlefield

by Spc. Karyn M. Wiedman
29th Infantry Division Public Affairs

FORT DIX, NJ, June 17, 1999 -- When you think of firepower, infantry, artillery and cavalry are probably the first things that come to mind. But effective communication firepower is just as important in the battlefield as rifles, tanks and howitzers.

Above: Sgt. 1st Class Malcolm F. Mason, a network controller from 129th Signal Battalion, checks the connection on a communications distribution box. (Photo by Capt. A. A. Puryear)
The 129th Signal Battalion, 29th Infantry Division (Light), Bel Air, Md., provided exactly that kind of firepower for the division's Warfighter ramp-up exercise this week.

Soldiers from the 129th arrived at Ft. Dix June 9 and got communication systems up and running for the exercise which began June 16 and ran through June 18.

Brig. Gen. Steven H. Blum, 29th's Assistant Division Commander-Support, pointed out the importance of communication support in any field maneuver situation.

"You can't command and control without communications," said Blum.

According to Sgt. Maj. Jeff Hohman, the battalion's operations sergeant, the 129th is to the division as a commercial telephone company is to the civilian world, providing local and long-distance telephone access as well as e-mail and cellular capabilities.

The 129th's mission is to provide tactical area support for the division and attached units. To fulfill that mission this week, they installed 20 junction boxes throughout the training area. These j-boxes provided the various units in the field with telephone access connections.

The j-boxes were linked to two node centers that acted as main switches to process calls.
Division personnel used 125 lines for telephone and fax communications during the exercise, Hohman said. The node centers processed thousands of calls daily.

Blum also spoke highly of the 129th and the support they provided to the division this week.

"Our success in this exercise is largely linked to their success," said Blum.

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This page was last updated June 19, 1999.