Originally created 12/02/99

Signal center faces challenges



While the Fort Gordon Signal Corps continues to lose technically trained staff to the private sector, the training center has consistently upgraded its technology this past year, post commander Maj. Gen. Peter M. Cuviello said Wednesday.

With the challenges and successes considered, the Signal Corps is not ready for a green light to move at full speed, but neither is it ready to come to a halt, the general said.

"I would characterize our overall status as amber," he said during his annual State of the Signal address.

Maj. Gen. Cuviello delivered the address for the 27th annual Signal Regimental Symposium followed by U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. John Keane, who was the keynote speaker for the event. Fort Gordon's one-week symposium -- the largest Signal-sponsored military conference in the world -- is during the first week of December each year and brings 3,400 people to Augusta.

Maj. Gen. Cuviello said one challenge the Signal faces is keeping some training equipment upgraded.

"The (information technology) training center, will evolve with technology and will integrate future IT systems as they are fielded," he said. "We've only scratched the surface as yet. But we will continue to vigorously pursue funding to obtain ... government equipment needed for the near-term."

When soldiers and civilians acquire the technical training, the Signal Corps' next challenge is retention, he said.

"While our field-officer numbers are strong, the regiment, like the Army, is short in captains, especially branch-qualified captains. The Army is pursuing both structure and inventory initiatives to fix it."

He said an Army effort failed that was meant to create a more efficient work force by giving tougher responsibilities to lower-ranking noncommissioned officers.

"As it turns out though, we reduced the NCO structure beyond what we should have," he said. "The Army is reinstating almost five thousand NCO positions into the structure."

Reach Clarissa J. Walker at (706) 828-3851.