For the first time in four years, a new brigade will be activated at Fort Gordon, eventually bringing 187 new troops to the Army base.
The 93rd Signal Brigade will be officially activated during a 10 a.m. ceremony Thursday.
The brigade flag, still sheathed in Army green, sits in the corner of a commander's office waiting to be unfurled next week. But troops have been at Fort Gordon since December, setting up the unit and overseeing some Signal Corps operations in Puerto Rico and Miami. This week, those troops already at Fort Gordon tested their satellite and signal-switching systems to prepare for a large-scale field exercise later this month.
"It'll make troubleshooting a lot easier," said Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Tracy, a network systems controller preparing for the Southern Frost II exercise. "When we get to the field, all the (network) settings will stay the same. Soldiers will know what to do if (problems) happen out in the field."
After the activation ceremony, the 93rd Signal Brigade will assume command of the 67th Signal Battalion, 63rd Signal Battalion and the 235th Signal Company, already at Fort Gordon. The brigade also oversees the 56th Signal Battalion in Puerto Rico and the Army Signal Activity in Miami.
Once it's fully activated, the brigade will have a force of 1,037 communications soldiers that can be deployed anywhere in the world, brigade commander Col. James Van Patten said.
In a conflict, "they are deployed early on in order to bring the rest of the force in," he said.
Soldiers from the 93rd also provide daily communications support to the Army Southern Command in Central and South America, he said.
The 93rd Signal Brigade was created in November 1941, and its soldiers provided communications support during World War II. The unit was subsequently deactivated, but it was reinstated in 1981 in support of the Army's 7th Corps.
Troops from the brigade deployed to Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War, but the unit was again deactivated in December 1991 when the 7th Corps was dissolved.
Though the Army is culling its force, the 93rd Signal Brigade is being revived to improve the Signal Corps' ability to deploy and to meet mission requirements, Col. Van Patten said.
Initially, only the brigade's headquarters will move to Fort Gordon. About 87 soldiers will be assigned, along with six civilian employees. By August 1999, the 100-member 252nd Tactical Signal Company will relocate to Fort Gordon from Panama.
Since 1990, Fort Gordon has gained seven major units, including the 1,500-strong 513th Military Intelligence Brigade. Six units have been lost this decade to reorganization and force reduction.
The activation ceremony for the 93rd Signal Brigade is set for 10 a.m. Thursday at Barton Field. Maj. Gen. Charles G. Sutten, commander of the U.S. Army Signal Command at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., will inspect the troops and officially activate the brigade.
Since 1990, seven major military units have been activated at Fort Gordon, despite efforts to downsize the Army. Here are the fort's newest units: