GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Ghost, this is Sentinel, do you copy? Over.
The earth crunches as intelligence students from the 344th Military Intelligence Battalion reorient themselves behind a deteriorating building.
An ominous silence fills the air.
The West Texas heat radiates off the red soil in Forward Operating Base Sentinel as they anticipate what is next.
GET DOWN, GET DOWN, GET DOWN!
BAM! BAM! BAM! They have been hit.
Army students from Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie Company duck and cover as the grand finale of their Tactical Signals Intelligence exercise unfolds on FOB Sentinel.
Soldiers immerse themselves in a mock environment stacked with simulated adversary-enhanced components the 17th Training Wing leverages to build joint coalition warriors.
“FOB Sentinel is a simulated austere environment that replicates what these Soldiers could be facing in combat,” said Army Lt. Col. Joseph Garwacki, 344th MI BN commander.
Three intelligence career fields merge an array of skills like analyzing foreign communications, intercepting foreign language, and utilizing signals equipment to exploit the simulated adversary.
This is the first time students are taking their trained skills and putting it into play, as they would operationally.
During the five day capstone evaluation, the students are jointly assessed in various training blocks all-the-while demonstrating their warrior task and battle training.
Students are also graded by instructors based on their collaboration efforts, strategic thinking, and their ability to collect, retain, and disseminate signals intelligence information.
“The primary objectives focus on setting up, operating, and disassembling tactical signals collection equipment jointly,” said Army Staff Sgt. Colin Zbikowski, 344th Military Intelligence Battalion instructor and course developer. “Students operate radio communications equipment and utilize land navigation.”
Students are also evaluated on skills they will likely use in their future careers, such as map reading skills, warrior task and battle drill training, indirect and direct simulated adversary contact, and moving in a tactical formation.
In line with the National Defense Strategy, the 17th TRW ensures joint service members develop and hone their skills by utilizing realistic, hands-on training tactics integrated with modernized, advanced, and innovative intelligence equipment.
“This current exercise evolution is the first time the 344th MI BN and the 17th TRW have been able to train a live signals event, in a field environment,” said Garwacki.
Capstone training like this epitomizes how the 17th TRW builds joint coalition warriors for the Department of Defense.