7 CSR 2016
It has been an extremely busy year at the 7th Combat Signal Regiment. Operationally, 7 CSR has contributed to two formed rotations to the Middle East Region (Theatre Communications Group One and Two), deployed signallers in support of Operation FIJI ASSIST and contributed to numerous individual augmentees to a variety of operational roles. Concurrent to operational contribution, 7 CSR has executed the foundation exercises of Combined Arms Training Activity (CATA), and the opposition force on Exercise HAMEL in close coordination with 7 Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare). Exercise HAMEL allowed excellent integration with 7 Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare) in the employment of deception, shielding of retransmission, electronic targeting and the electronic attack of our adversaries nets; much was learnt from 7 Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare) throughout the exercise. Following HAMEL, 7 CSR prepared for and deployed on the Army Warfighting Assessment, a major interoperability exercise with the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom in Texas. Throughout these exercise constructs 7 CSR has sought to decrease its electronic signature, reduce headquarter sizes, whilst increasing mobility and understanding how physical and electronic patterns can influence the adversary. The year concluded with excellent results at the Caduceus Cup: 1st in the Grecian Cup, Champion Women's and Men's Rugby teams, 2nd in the Athenian Cup, 4th in the Caduceus Cup and the awarding of Signaller Koubaroulis as Signaller of the Year. A great effort by all within 7 CSR.
In late 2015 members of 139 Signal Squadron, among other tri-service personnel, Force Concentrated to form Rotation Two of the Expeditionary Communications Squadron, under the umbrella of the Theatre Communications Group. The contingent deployed into the Middle East Region (MER) in early January 2017, and provided CIS nodes supporting HQJTF633 operations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Iraq and Afghanistan.
Operations within the UAE were very consistent and focussed on the largest user base within the MER, which exceeded 500 users. Coupled with the transients, the support to strategic systems did not receive as much attention as the panacea that is the Amenities Internet Access (AIA). In between the Wednesday influx of visitors trying to activate that critical AIA account, some of the key focus areas for the tour included the re-establishment of the Alternate Server Room over at airside, preparing for the EDLAN rollout, and the enduring requirement to support the physical security upgrades to support accreditation across Camp Baird.
The Taji CIS node provided direct support to the Task Group Taji (TGT) contingent within the Taji Military Complex (TMC). The diversity of their role involved ECN 662 support to the Tactical Operations Centre (TOC), as well as providing the enduring CIS support to the training teams. There were significant CIS milestones achieved during this rotation for TMC which included the installation of the new satellite bearers and the relocation of the server room. A significant outcome of the Operational Design Review that occurred during our rotation was the ECN 662 signaller position absorbed under the TGT manning which resulted in the return of some personnel to Australia prior to the rotation as a whole.
EX HAMEL 16 - 140 SIG SQN
As the Opposing Force (OPFOR), 140th Signal Squadron deployed on Ex HAMEL 16 (Ex H16) to Cultana Training Area, Whyalla and Iron Knob townships. During this exercise, the Squadron supported multiple communications nodes, providing higher command links and deployable networks to supported units (2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment and 6th Royal Australian Regiment) and Brigade Headquarters. This exercise was an opportunity for 7th Combat Brigade to tactically deploy headquarters elements in an unconventional manner and saw the formation of smaller headquarters nodes of 0A, and 0B as well as a larger 0D node at Whyalla Showgrounds. These communications nodes afforded the opportunity for the Brigade to employ deception in their OPFOR Plan.
COMD TAC (0C) - SIG David Schutze.
Ex H16 was an interesting experience for the COMD TAC detachment and the first time employed in an urban environment. The detachment operated out of the Whyalla Showgrounds and being located here presented one main issue being OPFOR. The Showground was open to the general public, and reconnaissance or an attack on the Brigade Commander could occur at any time. To combat the reconnaissance elements, 0C had the additional antennas removed so it matched 0F (a PMTV). This allowed the most vital asset to appear as a troop movement detachment rather than a command node. The detachment was prepared at all times for an attack. At any given time, there was a minimum of one PMV driver on standby to get the Brigade Commander away from any threat that could have arisen. COMD TAC was highly mobile throughout the entire Area of Operations. Overall, it was an interesting insight into how the OPFOR rank operated and controlled the battle.
BATTLE GROUP (BG) WAR HORSE (2/14 LHR Unit Node) - CPL Rajevshanth Shanmugan.
Being detached to BG WAR HORSE was an educating experience. Tasked with providing the higher link command to Brigade during the exercise, we also heavily assisted BG WAR HORSE with their internal communications. Having worked with them throughout the year, an excellent rapport had been established with BG staff and soldiers with the Detachment creating a bond that will remain in the years to come. Our Detachment structure was incorporated with BGHQ, so whenever and wherever the headquarters moved we were always close by. It was an outstanding experience to see how a combat arms corps, specifically an Armoured Cavalry Regiment operated in the field. We faced minor problems with BG internal communications; however this was overcome through teamwork and quick thinking on behalf of both the Detachment and armoured soldiers. We were able to work in a collaborative environment, sharing signals experiences from all ranks and trades. This was one of the beneficial experiences that we gained from our time within BG WAR HORSE. Our concerted efforts spanned to cross-corps training with the Detachment participating in an AFV Live Fire activity. This was a rare opportunity especially in the RA Sigs environment and will be cherished by the members of the Detachment.
Brigade Main (0D) - SIG Michael Koubaroulis.
During Ex H16, Brigade Main (0D) was established in the Whyalla Showgrounds and enabled the current and future tasking to BG's during the exercise. The challenge we faced was distance from the battlespace which required ingenuity to establish Battle Management System (BMS) and voice communications for OPFOR. The 1st Brigade's electronic warfare (EW) capability proved to be a high threat to our communications between the headquarters and BGs with in the training area. Building our reliance on BMS and tactical chat over HF proved to be very successful and almost impossible to jam or position find. The overall experience gained from Ex H16 was outstanding; the Brigade staff had to adapt to a new way of thinking due to the limitation of voice communication. The signallers had to revert back to using HF to establish voice communications over the entirety of Ex H16. Most signallers had not used HF as a primary means of communications; the training value was excellent and built our appreciation for HF.
Deception Plan (0B & Retransmission) - SIG Ben Moore.During Ex H16, 0B and Retransmission elements, in conjunction with 7 Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare)
detachments were deployed as part of the OPFOR deception and shielding plan. Deploying in an unconventional sense was our opportunity to develop a hybrid headquarters configuration in line with the Brigade Commander's intent; this enabled our ability to experiment with new operating ideas and concepts. The 0B Detachment was selected to occupy the town of Iron Knob, with a population of approximately 200 residents, located to the east of the Cultana training area. Our role was to replicate a Brigade Headquarters communications node as part of an overall deception plan. Iron Knob was considered to be a key strategic location within the battlespace and our presence provided the opportunity to occupy a headquarters urban environment, which allowed us to experience a range of different tactical and technical considerations that are not usually present within a conventional field deployment. A retransmission plan was developed to support the concept of 0B as a Brigade Headquarters node, with VHF nets established employing mounted and dismounted detachments. The hybrid detachments assisted to shield 7 Combat Brigade's retransmission plan. The employment of 0B and the hybrid retransmissions detachments was an excellent opportunity for personal and professional development, as this exposure to varying conditions allowed us to develop additional SOPs IOT prepare for the direction both Brigade and wider Army is heading.
Ex H16 has been an excellent opportunity to adopt and practise new Brigade Headquarters concepts (0A, 0B and 0D) and hybrid retransmission tactics, techniques and procedures. The unique and challenging aspects of operating in an urban environment has enabled 7th Combat Signal Regiment soldiers innovative concepts and ideas, driving Army modernisation and the future of our Corps.