Testimonials- This section is dedicated to help answer the question "Why should I come to JCU?" for potential candidates. Below are short essays written by the most recent SOROC graduates who took the time to answer the question for you in order to help you make the decision.
I came to the Joint Communications Unit (JCU) for a challenge and I have not been disappointed. In my experience nothing in the Navy was as hard as others made it out to be, from boot camp to deployments to earning warfare devices. Special Operator Radio Operator Course (SOROC) was the most challenge thing I have done in my naval career. From academics to physical training I was pushed to my limits on a daily basis. The training, the quality of the equipment, the access to the equipment, the amount of equipment and the amount of time spent working on the equipment is unparalleled. There were so many things we did in SOROC I had never done before; from land navigation to shooting to working on switches and routers. SOROC is much more than a communications course. It also stresses the importance of teamwork and leadership and instills values necessary to be a JCU communicator. My experiences in SOROC will help me to be the best communicator, Sailor and person I can be and will last a life time. The most humbling thing was the level of intelligence of my peers. We all came to SOROC as a leader amongst our peers but it did not take long to realize I was not as smart as I thought I was. There was so much experience and knowledge in my class; I was honored to be a part of it. Since coming to the troops I have realized that there is still so much I don’t know, about communications and JCU as a whole. There are no weak links and the camaraderie is truly something special. I have never worked around such a close knit group of people. Everyone has the same agenda and everyone takes care of one another. I have only been in JCU for a short period of time but in that amount of time I have learned and grown more than any other command I’ve been assigned to. I take pride in being a JCU communicator, graduating SOROC has been one of my greatest military accomplishments. I look forward to building on the knowledge base gained in SOROC and becoming a contributing member of the team.
I have been assigned to various traditional units in the Army throughout my military career; however in comparison with traditional units the Joint Communications Unit (JCU) prepares its military members to be successful in their assignment or assigned job/task/goal. The first building block for this success begins with Special Operators Radio Operators Course (SOROC). SOROC instructors dutifully educate students about the fundamentals and theories behind radios, networks, and SHF. There are time constraints placed upon SOROC instructors to educate students on entire components and functions of equipment. It does not hinder the education of the basic utilization, operation, and accompanied of trouble-shooting each piece of equipment and its correlating technology. These fundamental key concepts are extremely important, and are the epicenter of instructions from the SOROC instructors. Knowing the fundamental theories of how communications equipment works and applying them correctly allows all members of JCU the capability of operating various pieces of equipment, thus creating concentric circles of communication knowledge.
In JCU you are afforded and expected to take the time to be thoroughly acquainted with your equipment; therefore, you are not just an expert when everything operates correctly, but also when something functions incorrectly or is broken. One of the admirable qualities about JCU is that breaking something is not necessarily an unacceptable action; rather it is considered training and experience. Training exercises are much more realistic than traditional Army concepts of training. JCU does not usually load-up the trucks and head out to the local training areas on base. Instead training areas are located in numerous locations throughout the United States; moreover, it allows for appropriate training in appropriate environments. The exposure to different environments and ecosystems ensures that you can operate your equipment not just in the familiar confines in your comfort zone of the base, but anywhere in the world. Once your equipment has been set-up, do not think you are done, and successful set-up does not imply that your mission is a success either. Problems will be interjected into your network, or you will have to tear down and begin set-up all over again on numerous occasions; in fact, training events constantly test your knowledge and your ability to overcome problematic situations. Traditional Army units’ communicators often face complications such as not receiving the appropriate rights and permissions on their equipment needed to troubleshoot their problems. All JCU communicators have complete rights and permissions needed to fully access and solve entire problems.
The experience of being assigned to JCU has given me an opportunity to become a more technically proficient and knowledgeable NCO. Once you start to gain more rank in the Army you are diverted away from the opportunities to stay involved with the technical aspects of equipment, and you are expected to transcend into more of a managerial role. In JCU I am team member who is expected to know his equipment, and be completely proficient with the equipment at all times; furthermore, as a member of JCU you are treated as the professional you are expected to be.
Late one night in February 2011, I was sitting beside my brigade commander as the number two jumper during my brigade’s first night, mass tactical jump after redeploying from Iraq. I reflected back on the past year and all that had taken place. During the deployment I had finished up an eighteen month stint as the Battalion Commo Chief for 1-504th PIR. It was a job that I had looked forward to my entire career. What’s next? Where do I go from here? There was still quite a bit to accomplish. There was still more to learn. There were higher positions to attain. I had been lucky in that I had served in almost every position a communicator could thus far in my career. I had had my hands in the research, development, acquisition, and employment of a lot of the communications packages used by airborne units in the Army today. I had heard of the Joint Communications Unit (JCU) from members of the unit while working in a deployed location. I was impressed with their equipment and the way that they went about doing their job. The JCU Communicators I met during that deployment had a wealth of knowledge for all things signal. On more than one occasion, I found myself asking them for help with a problem I couldn’t fix. They always came through with a solution.
In February 2011, I came into contact with some communicators from JCU. Again, I had a piece of equipment that was new to me and my unit. Who better to ask for some assistance than the Communicators from JCU? Without hesitation, they cracked open the pelican case I took over to their shop, and began to dissect every piece of the package. This was not even a piece of equipment they use, but that didn’t matter. They had enough technical expertise from being exposed to so much signal equipment that it all seemed to make sense to them. I knew from that moment that I wanted to learn what they knew. I wanted to be exposed to the technical training, equipment, and mission that they supported.
On July 6, 2011, I started my first day in the Special Operations Radio Operators Course (SOROC) as a new member of the Joint Communications Unit. SOROC is a six month long course that introduces new special operations communicators to the communications equipment used throughout the Special Operations Community. The course is designed to build a solid foundation for the learning process that will ensue as a member of the JCU team, and every day is a learning experience. During the six months in SOROC, I was challenged on a daily basis. SOROC proved to be more than just another communications course. From the beginning of the course, communicators from all four branches come together to not only learn more than they ever have in any other communications course, but to also build a strong, cohesive team. From radios to switches and routers to SHF satellite communications to servers to radios connected to servers, there was always somebody who had experience with whatever piece equipment we were training on. Upon graduating from SOROC, I reported immediately to Charlie Troop. The same culture we strived to develop in SOROC exists in the troop. There are those in the troop that are very network savvy, there are some that are SHF experts, and there are some that are experts in radio communications; however, everybody I have met in my short time in JCU is striving to do it better every day. I have never been a part of an organization where everyone strives to be a total communicator. You will never hear anyone say, “That’s not my job.”
My journey through SOROC was one of the most humbling and eye opening experiences of my life. The ability to be meshed with personalities of some of the best communicators across the Department of Defense helped me to grow not only as a soldier but as a man. The amount of coursework was overbearing at time, the physical training was daunting, and the expectations were limitless; but these factors made the challenge that much harder and the ability to graduate that much more invigorating. I leave SOROC knowing that there are not many academic challenges that I may face that I cannot handle with the right amount of preparation and the application of hard work toward that goal.
The teamwork aspect of the course made it an immeasurable encounter also. As a group of service members from different branches we were able to come together and inspire each other while all trying to be the best. It is not often in life that someone can assemble the best qualified persons of multiple jobs, give them the same mission, and expect it to be completed in an orderly fashion with little supervision besides their own internal governing body. Before completing the course I would have thought that putting all of the best personnel together meant that there would have to be a decisive number one with all other fighting for the top spot. We as a SOROC class learned to support each other while pushing one another past our forethought limits.
Overall I felt that SOROC is a great course. As a young leader I thought that I was at the top of my career. I now see that there is always another step to push yourself. I have come to realize that everyday there is a lesson to be learned about yourself and there is something to learn about others. Whether it is that I should learn to speak with more reserve to team members, or to block out the negative thought that I cannot complete a task; I am now better prepared to be a more effective leader on the battlefield and in life.
SOROC is the most challenging and rewarding communications course in the military today. No matter what your MOS, you will be taken outside of your comfort zone and forced to expand your knowledge base into other fields. Since this course does not focus on a singular aspect of the communications world, a general familiarization is presented of all aspects effectively making a better communicator as an end result.
All aspects of the communications world will be covered from the transmission piece all the way back to the end user. Unlike most courses where you just sit in a classroom and get lectures and power point presentations this course will give you valuable hands on experience. This is not a check the block school like so many other military courses this teaches to proficiency. The instructors are the best in the business and there is plenty of time and equipment to practice the skills that are taught.
The facilities and equipment available to the SOROC students are top notch. Most courses lack the facilities and equipment to properly train personnel. The SOROC establishment does not have that issue. There is more than enough equipment for all the students to get individual hands on time with all the equipment that is covered throughout the course.
In addition to the communications aspect there is also tactical, shooting and driving training that is included in the course. This is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the course and one of the few times that the Army personnel shine and share their tactical experience. The shooting portion is extremely informative and shooters of all levels will get something out of it. Tactical driving that is presented in this course is not usually available in a military course.
SOROC also presents a rare opportunity to work with other branches of the military service since it is a joint school. It is an intriguing experience to be able to work with and learn about the other branches of service. In addition to the formal training presented, the shared experience of conversing and sharing stories with the other branches is a learning experience in and of itself.