2013-12-20 / Community Events

New signal battalion commander takes command, rallies among the troops

By Spc. Anthony Hooker
359th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade Public Affairs


Lt. Col. Eric Hopkins receives the 324th Expeditionary Signal Battalion colors from Lt. Col. Mark Rinaman, officer representing the 359th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade commander, during a change-of-command ceremony held Dec. 7 at Fort Gordon. Hopkins, a Petal, Mississippi resident, is the incoming commander of the 324th ESB. 
Photo by Spc. Anthony Hooker / 359th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade Public Affairs Lt. Col. Eric Hopkins receives the 324th Expeditionary Signal Battalion colors from Lt. Col. Mark Rinaman, officer representing the 359th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade commander, during a change-of-command ceremony held Dec. 7 at Fort Gordon. Hopkins, a Petal, Mississippi resident, is the incoming commander of the 324th ESB. Photo by Spc. Anthony Hooker / 359th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade Public Affairs Army Reserve Lt. Col. Eric Hopkins was formally introduced Dec. 7 as the new commander of the 324th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, 359th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade.

Hopkins, a Petal, Mississippi resident, succeeds interim commander Maj. Greg Gibson and joins the 324th ESB after completing an overseas deployment to Afghanistan with the 401st Army Field Support Bde. Hopkins is eager to resume service in the signal community after being previously assigned as a communications officer with units in Alabama and Mississippi.

“My previous assignment was not related directly to the Signal Corps, but logistics,” Hopkins explained. “Before that, I was the [officer-incharge] of communications for the 4th Bde., 75th Training Division. Our emphasis was on training simulation networks rather than providing tactical network access to maneuver units.”

With multiple deployments to overseas locations, Hopkins said he knows how critical signal operations can be to any mission.

“As a former infantry officer, I can and do appreciate the capabilities the signal element brings to command and control, and the vital mission it has in defending our freedoms,” Hopkins said.

With company- level units based at Fort Gordon, Atlanta, and Greenville, S.C., the 324th ESB challenges leaders logistically to accomplish their missionessential tasks. With only a limited amount of military personnel available on a fulltime basis, developing trusting relationships within the command quickly becomes a priority. Thanks to a number of scheduled activities, Hopkins received an informal review of his new troops as the unit performed a number of tasks during the battle training assembly.

After Hopkins joined unit members for an Army Physical Fitness Test, he received an incoming brief, conducted his change-ofcommand ceremony, and finished his first day of drill being poked and prodded during the scheduled Soldier medical readiness process. Waiting his turn to receive a flu shot and have his vital signs checked, Hopkins said it was important to show his troops the importance of personal accountability.

“I want Soldiers to see me receiving my shots, getting my teeth examined,” Hopkins explained. “If I am embarrassed a little bit during the process, it’s okay because I want my Soldiers to know how important Soldier readiness is to me.”

Hopkins chatted throughout the weekend with senior leadership, lower enlisted troops, and support organizations, showing an amiability that impressed Sgt. Eolus Ferguson.

“I’ve been around him for a few days now and he has shown us signs of being a very decisive leader,” said Ferguson, information management officer for the 324th ESB. “He was very engaging with all ranks, but he didn’t try to overwhelm anyone.”

For his part, Hopkins shared why he had such an optimistic view of his new position.

“Reservists are ultimate professionals,” Hopkins said. “They have families and careers in addition to the Army career. They maintain the same standards as their (active-component) military brethren – and yet do it in a part-time status. I am proud to be among such professionals.”

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