Reservists learn routers at Fort Meade

Next Tuesday, the 311th Theater Signal Command, an Army Reserve unit at Fort Meade, Md., will mark its one-year anniversary by graduating its first two classes of students from Cisco Networking Academy.

Twenty-five reservists will receive certificates from the only Cisco Systems Inc. certified training facility in the Army Reserve, said Maj. Gen. George F. Bowman, the commanding general. 'They have the capability to manage networks,' Bowman said.

The academy at Fort Meade is an extension of the Fort Gordon Regional Cisco Office, said Sgt. Diane Benjamin, who trains at the academy.

The active-duty Cisco training course usually runs about eight weeks. But reservists have to fit in the free classes between their full-time civilian jobs, so they generally take the courses part-time on evenings and weekends over six months.

The 12-credit course is transferable to many colleges and universities, officials said.

The Signal Corps already trains switch operators, radio operators and cable installers, said 1st Lt. Shawn Herron, a network systems engineer at the command. But what reservists needed most was training in how to operate routers, Herron said. With the Cisco certificates, they can configure routers at strategic and tactical sites, he said.

Maj. Bernard L. Smith, the Cisco Academy program manager, said the site is currently testing IP videoconferencing'a capability the command wants but can't use over standard phone systems.

IP videoconferencing 'will ride over the data network,' Smith said. 'There is an extensive cost savings.'

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