Military


124th Signal Battalion
"The Voice of The Iron Horse"
"Voice of the Force"

On 16 December 2004, the 124th Signal Battalion was inactivated as part of the 4th Infantry Division's modular transformation. As part of the modular transformation, assets previously held at division level, but habitually attached to a division's brigades during operations were made organic to those brigades. Elements of the inactivated Battalion were reflagged as the signal components of the special troops battalions in each of the Division's reorganized modular brigade combat teams.

The 124th Signal Battalion provided Command, Control, Communications, and Computer information (C4I) systems that enabled the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) to conduct operations in war and Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW). The 124th Signal Battalion supported the Division with Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE), Enhanced Position Location Reference System (EPLRS), Global Broadcast System-Battlefield Awareness Data Distribution system (GBS-BADD) and net control stations.

The 124th Signal Battalion was originally constituted on 1 June 1940 in the Regular Army as the 4th Signal Company, assigned to the 4th Division (later redesignated 4th Infantry Division), and activated at Fort Benning, Georgia. The Company participated in 5 campaigns in the Second World War with the 4th Infantry Division: Normandy (streamer with arrowhead indicating participation in the initial assault), Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe. After the end of the Second World War, the 124th Signal Battalion was inactivated on 23 February 1946 at Camp Butner, North Carolina.

The Company was then reactivated on 6 July 1948 at Fort Ord, California. It was reorganized and redesignated on 1 April, 1957 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 124th Signal Battalion with its organic elements concurrently constituted in the Regular Army and activated at Fort Lewis, Washington. The Battalion participated in 11 campaigns of the conflict in Vietnam with the 4th Infantry Division: Counteroffensive Phase II, Counteroffensive Phase III, Tet Counteroffensive, Counteroffensive Phase IV, Counteroffensive Phase V, Counteroffensive Phase VI, Tet 69/Counteroffensive, Summer-Fall 1969, Winter-Spring 1970, Sanctuary Counteroffensive, and Counteroffensive Phase VII.

The Battalion was later inactivated on 15 December, 1995 at Fort Carson, Colorado and reactivated at Fort Hood, Texas on 16 January, 1996. There the 4th Infantry Division was tagged as the US Army's Force XXI Experimental Force. The Battalion consisted of a Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2 line signal companies, and the 534th Signal Company attached to the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado. The mission of Headquarters and Headquarters Company was to maintain balanced readiness and deploy, on order, for commitments to operational missions. It would then plan and control a reliable and robust Communications Network; prepare to support the Battalion in operations during war, peace, and operations other than war. The mission of A and B Companies both had the mission of maintaining balanced readiness, and then deploying, on order, for commitments to operational missions, as well as providing reliable communications in support of the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized). The 534th Signal Company's mission was to provide reliable communications to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team (not to be confused with the modular brigade combat team) in support of the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized).

The Force XXI training focus was on receiving new equipment and conducting new equipment training (NET). The execution of NET set the stage for collective training, beginning on 1 June 1996. The success of the National Training Center (NTC) rotation in March 1997 was dependent upon learning critical individual skills offered during NET training. Direct Broadcast Satellite/BADD training was provided between 6 and 10 May 1996, to the 124th Signal Battalion, which set up their equipment in the various TOCs. These signal soldiers also manned the system during tactical training. The Enhanced Position Location Reporting System (EPLRS) Network Management Course was attended by 124th Signal soldiers assigned to the EPLRS Platoon. An update course was taught to EPLRS personnel.

The Army planned to field over 100 new and improved battlefield systems through its "digitization" initiative to meet the warfighter's needs of the 21st century. Digitization was the Army's process for arming its force with advanced information technologies. The Army expected new technologies would allow troops to constantly monitor the locations of friendly and enemy forces. Thus, digitization would give soldiers the ability to efficiently apply the latest information technologies to acquire, exchange, and employ timely information through the battlefield. The Army also expected the use of digitization on the battlefield would increase the Army's survivability, lethality, and tempo of operations.

The First Digitized Corps (FDC) Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) program was an upgrade to fielded Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE) as part of the Area Common User System Modernization Plan (ACUS MP). The upgrade was broken into 2 phases. The first, referred to as Division Slice, upgraded a portion of the 124th Signal Battalion's MSE. The second phase was production for the First Digitized Division (FDD) and First Digitized Corps (FDC). This upgrade program was an initial step to provide increased bandwidth to the Tactical Communications Backbone. The program was a transition between current MSE and the objective WIN-T switching architecture.

The upgrade was being accomplished under a sole source contract to General Dynamics Communications Systems (formerly GTE Government Systems Corporation). In June 1998 GTE Government Systems Corporation of Taunton, Massachusetts was awarded a $20,582,305 modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for incorporation of abynchronous transfer mode (ATM) upgrade into the first digitized division, 124th Signal Battalion, to improve data throughput of circuit switch networks. Work was performed in Taunton, Massachusetts, and was expected to be completed by 30 December 2000.

In July 1999, the Army accepted the first tactical communications systems upgrade that combined voice with multimedia asynchronous transfer mode transmission. Mobile Subscriber Equipment, the Army's primary tactical communications system, was primarily for voice, although MSE vendor GTE Government Systems Corporation of Needham Heights, Massachusetts did overlay a 16-Kbps data channel on top. The 4th Infantry Division's 124th Signal Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas, was the first unit to receive the upgraded equipment. For the fielded ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) upgrade used by the 124th Signal battalion, General Dynamics provided ATM and related data, video-teleconferencing and information assurance networking equipment enhancements to make the 4th Infantry Division the Army' s first digitized division.

The AN/GRC-245(V) high-capacity line-of-sight (HCLOS) radio was part of the Army's area common user system program, the first phase of the warfighter information network-terrestrial, or WIN-T, program. The Army also anticipated using the HCLOS radio with MSE equipment configured for a brigade subscriber node for initial brigade combat teams. The AN/GRC-226 radio that operated with MSE provided a maximum effective capacity of 1-megabits-per-second. HCLOS technology took the radios, multiplexers and switches associated with them up to more than 8 megabits per second. Initial HCLOS radios coming off the production line were to be fielded with the 4th Infantry Division as part of the Army's digitization program. As III Corps systems were fielded at Fort Hood, the Army would begin with the 124th Signal Battalion, which supported the 4th Infantry Division. A corps-level unit, the 16th Signal Battalion, would follow. After this, the Army would field equipment for the 13th Signal Battalion for the 1st Cavalry Division, followed by the 57th Signal battalion, another III Corps unit. Reserve and National Guard components for the III Corps, such as the 136th and 212th Signal Battalions, would then receive HCLOS radios. By the end of 2004, the equipment for the III Corps would be fielded, including its Reserve and National Guard components.

The Program Manager for the EPLRS fielded 3 Version 4 EPLRS Net Control Stations (NCS-E) to the 124th Signal Battalion, 4th Infantry Division between 24 May and 24 Jun 1999. These NCS-Es replaced the 2 Version 3 NCS-E previously fielded to the 4th Infantry division. The upgrade of hardware was required to support the continuing evolution of the Force Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) System and its expanding functionality.

The Program Manager for MILSATCOM and the TRADOC System Manager for Satellite Communications (TSM-SATCOM) provided a Secure Mobile Anti-jam Reliable Tactical Terminal (SMART-T) Status Briefing at Ft Hood, Texas, to Major General Wallace, Commanding General of the 4th Infantry Division, on 18 Jun 1999. PM MILSATCOM and TSM-SATCOM provided the briefing to ensure the first Digitized Division Signal Battalion was fully cognizant of the program strategy resulting from the MILSTAR launch failure. The terminals were initially hand-receipted to the unit in July 1999 to begin New Equipment Training in order to support the Limited User Test 1 event in October 1999.

The Integrated System Control was a key network management system and an integral part of the Army's digitization effort. As the Army's future network management system, the Integrated System Control program would be critical to achieving the Army's goal of attaining information dominance of the battlefield. The advanced warfighting experiments leading up to the first digitized division demonstrated that network management was a major undertaking. Integrated System Control performed very few new functions. Rather, the system automated network management functions that were previously performed manually. The Integrated System Control program (Versions 1 and 2) should have met user needs and the fielding schedule of the first digitized division, but was at risk of not meeting user needs and fielding schedule of the future digitized battlefield. Although the goal of the program was to field a total of 88 Versions 1 and 2 systems, the first digitized division required only one Integrated System Control (Version 1) in November 2000. The 124th Signal Battalion received one system in support of the first digitized division. The long-term goal of the program, however, is to field all 88 systems (Versions 1 and 2) by August 2005.

In March 2003 the 124th Signal Battalion deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While the B Company "Bulldogs" were deployed, they received a new leader of the pack. Captain Andre L. Burks took the lead as Commander of B Company. As a Company, they were supporting the 2nd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division with outstanding communications, for which they received many accolades and commendations for the service they were providing to the warfighter. Some National Guardsmen joined the team in Iraq. C Company, 234th Signal Battalion worked side by side with the 124th Signal Battalion. Over 70 soldiers from the unit provided superb communications within the Division area.

On 16 December 2004, the 124th Signal Battalion was inactivated as part of the 4th Infantry Division's modular transformation. As part of the modular transformation, assets previously held at division level, but habitually attached to a division's brigades during operations were made organic to those brigades. Elements of the inactivated Battalion were reflagged as the signal components of the special troops battalions in each of the Division's reorganized modular brigade combat teams.




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