Despite facing budget and personnel cuts, Fort Stewart has gained a unit — the 63rd Expeditionary Signal Battalion.
The battalion deploys worldwide to install, operate and maintain command, control communications and computer systems in support of joint and combined operations.
The unit relocated to Fort Stewart form Fort Gordon and is under the leadership of Lt. Col. Tia Benning and Command Sgt. Maj. Richard D. Knott. It is a subordinate unit of the 35th Signal Brigade (Theater Tactical). The 63rd ESB uncased its colors during a ceremony Friday at Marne Garden.
Benning said the battalion can be deployed in as little as 96 hours.
“We have equipment such as a joint-network node, and we have a command-post node,” she said. “We can take those pieces of equipment and deploy it anywhere, anytime, to an area that has no communication capabilities.”
The unit is able to set up its system in an area that doesn’t have cellphone reception, find a satellite and be operation, providing mission command for all the commanders on the ground there, Benning said.
The battalion’s mission is to continue to support U.S. Army North. Benning said the 63rd will take the opportunity to train with some of units in the area.
“Our mission is not the 3rd (Infantry Division), but we have a training opportunity where the signal soldiers here on post can come to us for support, training and professional development,” she said.
Many of the battalion’s soldiers come from a training environment and have not been in a division environment like Fort Stewart, she added.
“Getting the experience of being within a division environment is an awesome opportunity,” Benning said. “I think seeing some of the brigade combat teams and how they operate is going to be great for their professional development.”
Benning said the move to Fort Stewart will help make room for the Army’s Cyber Command, which is scheduled to arrive on Fort Gordon in the coming months.
She described the move as a struggle for some soldiers because they could not begin the permanent relocation process as soon as they normally would. That was because the battalion still had to finish its mission.
“We closed down at Fort Gordon and opened up facilities here at Fort Stewart all while working,” Benning said. “Pulling kids out of school and transitioning them down to this area, we did it all simultaneously.”
The unit performed three missions during the four-month transition. However, the soldiers are said to have taken it all in stride and are excited to be here.
Benning and Knott uncased the unit’s colors, signifying the 63rd Battalion’s integration with the Marne.
Lt. Col. Ryan T. Stewart, the deputy commander of the 35th Signal Brigade, was the first to give remarks.
“Last week at Fort Gordon, we closed a most recent chapter of the battalion’s history when the colors were cased,” he said. “This new chapter, a blank canvas, is yet to be read, but it starts today — right here, right now. Everyone standing on this field has a part to play and will impact what is ultimately written in the history books.”
Benning said, “We will continue to be ambassadors of what right looks like as we integrate ourselves as dogface soldiers. We will not let you down. We will continue to write the legacy of this outstanding organization by continuing to answer the call for premier communications support from the baddest ESB of the U.S. Army. We will do it with a sense of pride and honor under the supervision of the most distinguished mechanized division in the world.”
After the ceremony, Col. Kevin F. Gregory, the post’s garrison commander, said he is proud to have the 63rd Battalion on Fort Stewart.
The most important thing, he said, is the transition of the families into the community, adding that he appreciates the strong support for the new unit from coastal Georgia.