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Face of Defense: Reserve Soldier Signals for Readiness

By Army Staff Sgt. Michael Crawford, 326th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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ALBERTA, Canada, June 15, 2017 — Television sets, radios and satellite equipment became putty in the hands of signal and communication Army reservists as they sharpened their skills by providing operational services to U.S. and Canadian forces during the Maple Resolve 17 training exercise held at Camp Wainwright here May 14-29.

Army Spc. Cody Gomez, a microwave system operator maintainer for the Army Reserve's 306th Psychological Operations Company, assembles a transmission antenna during Exercise Maple Resolve 17 at Camp Wainwright, Alberta, May 16, 2017. Exercise Maple Resolve is an annual collective training event designed for any contingency operation. About 4,000 Canadian and 1,000 U.S. troops participated. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Crawford
Army Spc. Cody Gomez, a microwave system operator maintainer for the Army Reserve's 306th Psychological Operations Company, assembles a transmission antenna during Exercise Maple Resolve 17 at Camp Wainwright, Alberta, May 16, 2017. Exercise Maple Resolve is an annual collective training event designed for any contingency operation. About 4,000 Canadian and 1,000 U.S. troops participated. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Crawford
Army Spc. Cody Gomez, a microwave system operator maintainer for the Army Reserve's 306th Psychological Operations Company, assembles a transmission antenna during Exercise Maple Resolve 17 at Camp Wainwright, Alberta, May 16, 2017. Exercise Maple Resolve is an annual collective training event designed for any contingency operation. About 4,000 Canadian and 1,000 U.S. troops participated. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Crawford Maple Resolve 2017
Army Spc. Cody Gomez, a microwave system operator maintainer for the Army Reserve's 306th Psychological Operations Company, assembles a transmission antenna during Exercise Maple Resolve 17 at Camp Wainwright, Alberta, May 16, 2017. Exercise Maple Resolve is an annual collective training event designed for any contingency operation. About 4,000 Canadian and 1,000 U.S. troops participated. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Crawford

“We’re able to take over certain radio or television sets, either analog or digital, which we can [use to] put out our own message… to a large audience,” said Army Spc. Cody Gomez, a microwave systems operator maintainer. “If something happens, or something is going to happen, we can get a good message to ‘get out’ or ‘help’s on its way.’”

Training Exercise

More than 650 U.S. soldiers supported Maple Resolve 17, the Canadian army’s premiere brigade-level validation exercise. As part of the exercise the U.S. Army provided a wide array of combat and support elements, including sustainment, psychological operations, public affairs, aviation and medical units.

“This lets us know what we can and cannot do,” Gomez said. “The weather here is a little unpredictable, so it’s getting us ready and set so we know it [radio equipment] can go so high or be set up at certain times. If the weather gets too extreme and we have to take it down, we know our limitations.”

Knowing how long Gomez and his peers can keep the signal going or how far they can push the equipment gives life to vital missions across the full spectrum of military operations.

‘If We Can’t Talk, We Can’t Fly’

“For aviation, they’re the only way we can talk to the ground guys,” said Army Capt. Mark Chambers, with the Maryland Army National Guard's 1-224th Security and Support Battalion. “Once the battle starts, everything changes. We could be landing in the wrong area or the wrong time. Pickup times or pickup zones could have been adjusted. Communications are absolutely critical. If we can’t talk, we can’t fly.”

No pressure, right?

Army Pfc. Ismael Torres, left, a cable system installer maintainer, and Army Spc. Cody Gomez, a microwave system operator maintainer, prepare to raise a transmission antenna during Exercise Maple Resolve 17 at Camp Wainwright, Alberta, May 16, 2017. Torres and Gomez serve with the Army Reserve's 306th Psychological Operations Company. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Crawford
Army Pfc. Ismael Torres, left, a cable system installer maintainer, and Army Spc. Cody Gomez, a microwave system operator maintainer, prepare to raise a transmission antenna during Exercise Maple Resolve 17 at Camp Wainwright, Alberta, May 16, 2017. Torres and Gomez serve with the Army Reserve's 306th Psychological Operations Company. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Crawford
Army Pfc. Ismael Torres, left, a cable system installer maintainer, and Army Spc. Cody Gomez, a microwave system operator maintainer, prepare to raise a transmission antenna during Exercise Maple Resolve 17 at Camp Wainwright, Alberta, May 16, 2017. Torres and Gomez serve with the Army Reserve's 306th Psychological Operations Company. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Crawford Maple Resolve 2017
Army Pfc. Ismael Torres, left, a cable system installer maintainer, and Army Spc. Cody Gomez, a microwave system operator maintainer, prepare to raise a transmission antenna during Exercise Maple Resolve 17 at Camp Wainwright, Alberta, May 16, 2017. Torres and Gomez serve with the Army Reserve's 306th Psychological Operations Company. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Crawford

“You want to move fast, but keep your head steady; it’s very easy to try and be rushed, and if you mess up one thing, you mess up the whole system,” Gomez explains. “Setup can take about 30-40 minutes. Tear down takes about half the time. You want to make sure … everything is done step-by-step and correctly.”

Gomez, a four-year Army reserve veteran, feels his civilian experience as a supervisor for a shipping company gives him an edge in the field.

“It really helps build my character up and teaches me how to operate with different crews and different people,” he said. “I carry it over to here, so I can help my soldiers out and lead in the right direction.”

Gomez, part of the Army Reserve's 306th Psychological Operations Company based at Joint Training Base Los Alamitos, California, said he can see how his work directly impacts the theater of operations.

“I get to see a lot of messages and what Psyops actually does,” he said. “We get to actually view the videos and listen to the audio, and we get to see the impact it makes on different parts of the world. It’s pretty nice to see how we’re actually making a difference and how we in the signal field can make a difference in the rest of the world.”