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Rod Powers was the U.S. Military expert for The Balance Careers and was a retired Air Force First Sergeant with 22 years of active duty service.
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Updated February 24, 2019
In the Army, Satellite Communication Systems Operator-Maintainers are responsible for keeping communications working, literally keeping the lines up and running. They install, operate, maintain and repair strategic and tactical multichannel satellite communications.
The work these soldiers do is critical to Army intelligence-gathering operations. As the technology becomes more sophisticated, their training will be ever more key to protecting U.S. military communications and intercepting communications from other sources.
These soldiers are responsible for almost all technical aspects of satellite equipment installation and operations, including configuring and alignment. They’re also tasked with conducting performance tests and performing quality control tests on circuits, trunk groups, systems, and ancillary equipment.
In addition, soldiers in this MOS conduct preventive maintenance on communications equipment, vehicles, and power generators. They’re also responsible for giving technical guidance and assistance to subordinates.
A key part of this job involves identifying and reporting any electronic jamming of Army equipment by enemy actors and applying appropriate countermeasures. Much of the work they do is highly complex and multifaceted. And as part of their duties, these soldiers ensure backup equipment and repair parts are available for system operations when needed, and compiling system and network statistics for reports.
Job training for a satellite communication systems operator-maintainer requires 10 weeks of basic combat training (also known as boot camp) and 18 weeks of advanced individual training, including the Satellite Communications course at Fort Gordon in Georgia.
You’ll learn how to use various types of communications equipment, how to work with codes and how to maintain communications equipment you’ll use on the job.
To be eligible for this job, you’ll need a score of at least 117 in the electronics (EL) segment of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) tests.
Since you’ll be handling sensitive information, you’ll need to qualify for a secret security clearance from the Department of Defense. This involves an in-depth investigation of your character and finances, and a history of alcohol abuse or drug use may be disqualifying.
In addition, you’ll need normal color vision (no colorblindness), and have completed a year of high school algebra and science. You must be a U.S. citizen to serve in this role.
Although much of the work you’ll do in this job is specific to the Army, you’ll be well-trained for several civilian occupations, including repairing electronics for commercial and industrial equipment, radio mechanic, and repairing and installing telecommunications equipment.