A blizzard with 40 mph winds blasts 30 inches of snow and ice across a major metropolitan area that already had significant accumulation. The situation is dire: Snow drifts have trapped people in their homes, and the roadways are riddled with accidents and stranded vehicles.
Emergency personnel are activated, the Army National Guard is called up to help, and then … power blacks out across the region, major communications systems go down, even cellular towers are affected. Emergency response grinds to a halt.
Unless … the Guard had already sent in its Expeditionary Signal Battalion (ESB). Sure, the city’s major systems would still be down. But since ESB personnel deployed with their vehicles equipped with power generators, satellite uplink terminals, network nodal systems — you get the picture — emergency telecommunications and computer transmissions can continue uninterrupted.
Major Aaron Radlinski, who is currently standing up a new ESB for the Michigan National Guard, says these are the same self-sufficient mobile units that go out ahead of the troops to establish battlefield communications in the harshest of environments.
With Michigan’s previous ESB having been stood down 12 years ago, MAJ Radlinski says he feels fortunate that he was chosen to stand up the new 156th Expeditionary Signal Battalion. A former Signal Officer in the Army, he joined the Guard in 2005 after returning from Iraq and is currently the full-time officer in charge of the 177th Police Brigade. The 156th will be subordinate to the 177th when it is fully operational this September.
In the months leading up to the battalion’s official standup date, MAJ Radlinski says they are gathering and training 490 mostly part-time Guard personnel to staff several ESB companies. He says the great part about being trained in one of the many ESB military occupational specialties (MOS) for the Guard is that Soldiers can then apply those skills to get full-time civilian jobs working for large communications providers. Depending on the MOS, they might do things like troubleshoot networks, install fiber optics, build cell towers, maintain communications providers’ vehicles, etc.
Whether you live in Michigan and want to train for one of these new ESB positions or you live in a completely different State that has an Expeditionary Signal Battalion, here are the main types of positions you could train for (click the links to see open positions across the Nation and read MOS job descriptions):
MAJ Radlinski also mentions that most signal Soldiers have to obtain Secret or Top Secret clearances, which is valuable when seeking civilian employment at certain companies, especially Federal Government contractors.
Just as valuable, he says, are the rewards of a part-time commitment in the Guard. “The Guard is a unique organization. You’re not only called upon for your country, but you’re also called upon to help your neighbors, your friends, and your family. That’s very rewarding.”
After you’ve explored our jobs board and decided which signal battalion MOS you’d like to pursue, contact a recruiter to learn about all the other great benefits the Guard offers, like money for college, affordable healthcare, and more.