Newest 3 Distinguished Members of the Regiment bring a century’s experience

Newest 3 Distinguished Members of the Regiment bring a century’s experience

Susan Wood

FORT GORDON, Ga. — The three newest Distinguished Members of the Signal Regiment, inducted during the 30th annual Signal Symposium held in December 2002, accumulated about a century’s worth of communications experience during their Army careers.

BG Janet Hicks, Chief of Signal, inducted retired LTG Otto Guenther, retired MG David Gust and retired COL Robert Forrester as Distinguished Members during a ceremony here.

Guenther served the Signal Regiment 34 years, working in the Army’s command, control, communications, computers and intelligence arena. He also accrued more than 20 years’ Guenther acquisition and procurement experience and became the Army’s first chief information officer when Congress passed the Information and Technology Act in 1995.

“(Guenther) exemplifies the true C4I visionary leader,” the ceremony’s narrator said in reading Guenther’s biography. “Since his retirement, (Guenther) has continued to advance C4I technology. He consistently sets the standards that bring great honor to himself and the Signal Regiment.”

Guenther’s key assignments also included Communications Electronics Command and Fort Monmouth commander, Fort Monmouth, N.J.; program executive officer for communications systems (responsible for the Army’s tactical communications equipment); project manager for the Position Location and Reporting System/Tactical Information Distribution System; chief of the Telecommunications Division, 5th Signal Command; 102d Signal Battalion commander; and chief of the Communications Electronics Branch, office of the assistant chief of staff/G-4 in Vietnam.

After retiring from the Army in August 1997, ending his career as the director of information systems for C4, Guenther became general manager of Computer Associates International’s Federal Systems Group, a $300 million operation providing information-technology products and services to the federal market. Currently he serves as vice president and general manager of Tactical Systems Division, TRW Systems, where he oversees TRW’s battlefield digitization, command-and-control and system-engineering activities for the U.S. Army.

Guenther also serves on the boards of directors for the Armed Forces Communications-Electronics Association; Government Electronics and Information Technology Association; and the Military Communications Conference Board.

Gust worked behind the scenes for innumerable Signal soldiers during his 34-year Army Gust career. Many of the equipment systems Signal soldiers use today felt Gust’s guiding hand in their development and acquisition. For example, as PM for mobile-subscriber equipment, he prepared and fielded 30 MSE battalions. MSE configuration changes made during his 2 1/2-year PM-MSE tenure included the packet-switch overlay and fielding MSE switches in transit-case configurations for four light-infantry divisions.

As PEO-CS, his work included initiating the first Army triband satellite-terminal project, with eight prototypes of C-, X- and Ku-band satellite terminals produced for units at Fort Gordon and Fort Huachuca, Ariz; competitively procuring Spitfire, the enhanced man-portable ultra-high frequency tactical-satellite radio; adopting commercial-off-the-shelf technology for Global Positioning System receivers to make them more cost-effective; changing acquisition strategy for the Single-Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System radio so that it was more competitively priced; and spearheading engineering modifications to the emerging Enhanced Position Location Reporting System radio so that its data throughput doubled.

Also as PEO-CS, Gust encouraged integration for SINCGARS, MSE and EPLRS, which were separate communications programs run by three PMs within PEO-CS. As the Army’s chief of staff began the campaign to digitize the Army, Gust persuaded his PMs that a “tactical Internet” was possible and that the Army needed it. He led the PMs in an integrated-product-team environment as PEO-CS led the way in increasing the Army’s digital-pipeline systems to support growing Army automation-system traffic.

As PEO for intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors, he worked to integrate Signal and military-intelligence systems, helping ensure the MI customer’s needs were articulated to the Signal Regiment and establishing liaisons between forts Gordon and Huachuca. Gust’s initiative resulted in the first Trojan Spirit to Warfighter Information Network-Tactical migration plan, and the first Signal Center/Intelligence Center home-on-home conferences.

Since Gust retired from the Army in October 2000, he has continued communications support to the Army. The Dragon communications system used in Kosovo and the Raptor system used in Afghanistan and Kuwait are products from Technical and Management Services Corporation, where he serves as chief executive officer.

Throughout his 28-year career as a Signal officer, Forrester served in a variety of positions, rising from the rank of private. He commanded an infantry platoon, four companies–including a company in Vietnam–and 5th Signal Battalion. His final military assignment was as director of combat developments at Fort Gordon, where he was considered especially adept at motivating and developing subordinates to meet new challenges.

“Throughout his military career, Forrester managed several of the Army’s most critical C4 programs through crisis after crisis, a perfect blend of technician and tactician,” the narrator said at the induction ceremony. “He was called a ‘national treasure’ by his command and, as such, was awarded both the Bronze and Silver Orders of Mercury.”

Some of Forrester’s assignments included force-development staff officer, office of the deputy chief of staff for operations; Training and Doctrine Command liaison officer, MSE fielding team, Fort Hood, Texas; chief of Concepts and Studies Division, Directorate of Combat Developments, Fort Gordon; and chief of TRADOC’s C4I Requirements Division, Fort Monroe, Va. Many of these positions were jobs directly relating to defining requirements, funding and developing systems, and fielding much-needed C4 systems that would support U.S. joint and combined operations.

After he retired from the military in July 1996, Forrester signed on with General Dynamics C4 Systems (formerly GTE), where he is still shaping Army communications through equipment development, engineering, production and fielding.

“His contributions to the Signal Regiment continue to be significant, further enhancing his role as leader, mentor and great American,” the narrator said. Particularly noteworthy is that he continually shares information with the Signal Regiment’s leadership.

The Distinguished Member of the Regiment program was instituted when the Regiment was activated in 1986. The program recognizes people who make special contributions and distinguish themselves in service to the Regiment. DM positions are designed not only to recognize people whose service is most notable, but also to promote and enhance the Regiment’s history and traditions and to foster cohesion among its members.

Ms. Wood has been chief of the Regimental Division, Office Chief of Signal, at Fort Gordon since May 1993. Part of her responsibilities include the Distinguished Member of the Regiment program, among other Regimental awards and recognition programs. She also serves on the board of the local AFCEA chapter and is the Chief of Signal’s liaison to the national Signal Corps Regimental Association.


AFCEA–Armed Forces Communications-Electronics Association

C4–command, control, communications and computers

C4I–command, control, communications, computers and intelligence

CECOM–Communications Electronics Command

DM–distinguished member

EPLRS–Enhanced Position Location Reporting System

MI–military intelligence

MSE–mobile-subscriber equipment

PEO-CS–program executive officer for communications systems

PM–project manager

SINCGARS–Single-Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System

TRADOC–Training and Doctrine Command

Ms. Alley edited Army Communicator June 1995-February 2003 before becoming chief of the Command Information Branch in TRADOC’s public-affairs office. A former soldier, she has served as a military and civilian reporter and editor, accumulating about 25 years’ total experience in journalism and Army public affairs. She has also served as a Keith L. Ware (the Army journalism awards) judge and, as the U.S. Army Signal Center and Fort Gordon web manager, led a seminar on public affairs and the worldwide web at the Army’s 2001 Worldwide Public Affairs Symposium.

COPYRIGHT 2003 U.S. Army Signal Center

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