1st Signal Brigade
"Voice of the ROK!"
The mission of the 1st Signal Brigade is to enable command and control throughout the area of operations to support United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command/US Forces Korea/Eighth US Army the ability to lead, direct and maneuver available forces during armistice, crisis, or wars. 1st Signal Brigade has also installed, operated, and maintained (IOM) command, control, communications, computers, and information (C41) systems, in theater, in support of joint, combined and Army operations during armistice. On order, 1st Signal Brigade would transition to war to IOM C41 systems in support of reception, staging, onward movement and integration (RSOI) operations and execution of the CINCs theater campaign plans. On order, it would also receive CONUS augmentation forces and be placed under the operational command of the 311th Theater Signal Command (TSC).
After its creation in 1966, 1st Signal Brigade provided vital communications support to allied forces throughout the Asian continent. Whether in the midst of combat or peacetime conditions, the Brigade maintained the electronic "nerve system" of the US Army defense effort. The soldiers of 1st Signal Brigade worked from the DMZ to the sea. Their efforts on the Republic of Korea peninsula kept subscribers, to include the Commander in Chief of Korea, talking on and off the Pacific theater. They kept the CINC in direct contact with the White house if need be. These soldiers operated equipment on air, land and sea. The CINC Hawk team kept communications going while the CINC was flying, and a member of the Brigade had often worked on board the USS Blueridge off the Southern coast.
The 1st Signal Brigade was activated on 1 April 1966, in the Republic of Vietnam. Its mission was one of the most complicated ever given to any signal unit in the history of warfare: to originate, install, operate, and maintain an incredible, complex communication system that fused tactical and strategic communications in Southeast Asia into a single, unified command. The creation of the Brigade brought together 3 signal groups already in Southeast Asia along with other units into a single unified command, except those organic to field forces and divisions.
The mission in Southeast Asia meant providing communications to forces scattered over more than 60,000 square miles of torrid jungle, mountain ranges and coastal lowland, much of which was under-populated and enemy-infested. One of the innovations that circumvented the difficult terrain and enemy situation was the introduction of an extensive, tropospheric scatter radio relay system, which provided numerous communications channels over distances of several hundred miles between sites. Other firsts included, first use of satellite communications in a combat zone and first use of automatic, digital message and data switches.
At its peak, the Brigade had more than 21,000 soldiers, with 6 signal groups, 22 signal battalions, and a large number of specialized communications agencies. This made it, at that time, the largest single brigade in the US Army.
The stand-down of 1st Signal Brigade was almost as significant as its buildup. Caught by the US reduction-in-forces that affected the pullout from Southeast Asia, 1st Signal Brigade reduced its strength from 21,000 in 1968 to less than 1,300 by November 1972. The departure of American forces from the Republic of Vietnam was accompanied by a decline in communications facilities needed to support them. Whole signal sites, from delicate communications gear to the buildings that housed them, had to be dismantled, packed and shipped to destinations around the world. More than $50 million worth of communications equipment and facilities were recovered between 1970 and 1972.
In November 1972, the Brigade colors were transferred to the Republic of Korea and put under the custodianship of the US Army Strategic Communications Command. Colonel Walton K. Richardson, Commander, USASTRATCOM, accepted the colors and became the first commander of 1st Signal Brigade, Korea. The Brigade was reestablished by issuing General Order 56, Headquarters, USASTRATCOM, dated 29 January 1973. Its mission in Korea was to provide communications support to United Nations Command, US Forces Korea, and Eighth US Army. 1st Signal Brigade was also tasked to plan, establish, engineer, install, operate and maintain the Defense Communications System; communications at Army facilities; satellite communications and tracking, and the Army Military Affiliate Radio System. Additionally, the Brigade was required to provide support in field communications security, audio visual, photographic activities and graphic arts.
In July 1974, 1st Signal Brigade experienced a major organizational change in conjunction with the activation of 2 signal battalions: 41st Signal Battalion, (formerly known as Long lines Battalion North in Seoul), and 36th Signal Battalion, (redesignated from Long lines Battalion South, headquartered in Taegu). The 4th Signal Group was reorganized into the 304th and 307th Tactical Signal battalions. The last major unit to join the brigade, in 1977, was 257th Signal Company, which was reactivated at that time.
In 1976, the 304th and 307th Tactical Signal Battalions were reassigned from EUSA to 1st Signal Brigade, and in 1977 the 307th was combined with the 304th and redesignated as the 304th Signal Battalion.
On 1 November 1977, the 1st Signal Brigade became the major subordinate command in the Western Pacific, reporting directly to Headquarters, US Army Communications Command. In 1978, the programmed Automated Multi-Media Exchange was activated, opening a new era in improved telecommunications.
On 30 May 1984, 229th Signal Company (TACSAT) was activated to provide linkage with the worldwide satellite network. In April 1984, the Information Mission Area was established, consisting of 5 disciplines: telecommunications, automation, audio-visual support, records management, and printing and publication. Resulting from this was an implementation plan approved by the Chief of Staff in May 1985, changing the Assistant Chief of Staff, J-6, to Assistant Chief of Staff, C4S (Joint Command, Control, Communication and Automation) and establishing the EUSA Assistant Chief of Staff, Information Management to support the five Army IMA disciplines. In July 1986, C4S was changed back to J-6. In July the Assistant Chief of Staff, C-6/J-6/IM was integrated, resulting in the brigade commander wearing four hats - as 1st Signal Brigade commander; Deputy C-6, Combined Forces Command; Assistant Chief of Staff, J-6, USFK; and Assistant Chief of Staff, IM EUSA.
In October 1985, 1st Signal Brigade assumed the mission to operate and maintain AM, FM and TV distribution and broadcast systems (less studios) for American Forces Korea Network.
In 1986, the US Army Printing and Publications Center, Korea was assigned to 41st Signal Battalion. Also in 1986, the Fiber Optics Project and Korea Telephone Upgrade were initiated. On 16 March 1988, the 307th Signal Battalion was reactivated.
On 6 June 1995, the newest chapter in the brigade's history was recorded when 257th Signal Company cased their colors in an inactivation ceremony at Camp Humphreys.
In October 2002, the newest chapter in the Brigade's history was recorded when 14th and 251st Signal Detachments were enacted to support the 1st Signal Brigade's overall mission. These units were assigned to the 41st Signal Battalion.
At the same time when the 14th and 251st Signal Detachments were being activated, the 74th Signal Company, 36th Signal Battalion, was being inactivated. The 74th Signal Company had an ongoing mission to provide communications to the Pusan and Chinhae areas in South Korea. During exercises, 74th Signal Company took on additional requirements when many units deployed to this area.
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