Benefitting from Military Smarts of Former Service Members
National Hire a Veteran Day
By Anne Wainscott-Sargent
25 July, 2023
In honour of National Hire a Veteran Day in the U.S., we are highlighting our special operations and U.S. Army veterans, getting their take on the value of hiring veterans and the connectivity challenges operators face in theatre.
The benefits of hiring veterans for a satcom innovator like ALL.SPACE focused initially on serving defence users are massive. That’s one reason our U.S. Government and Engineering teams include former U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) community members (pictured below L to R: Mason Gaffney, Alex Ayers and Emil Reynolds), who are dedicated to delivering resilient connectivity to warfighters who need assured comms the most.
“Veterans, often from a young age, have been entrusted with responsibilities most of their peers will not see until later in their careers and often in the most challenging environments and conditions,” points out former ranger Emil Reynolds, who joined ALL.SPACE in 2020 after spending more than decade in the U.S. Army, both in conventional forces and in Special Operations.
“They understand leadership and teamwork intimately and have for likely several years to decades. The ability to problem solve and make key decisions is ingrained along with a great attention to detail through years of rigorous training and experience,” says Reynolds, who completed four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. “They typically also uniquely understand things from a global perspective given their time in organisations with that focus,” he adds.
Mason Gaffney, solutions engineer, who spent nearly 15 years in Army Special Forces (Airborne) as a senior communications chief, says SOF communicators and veterans are trained to operate in remote and hostile areas and they understand all too well the difficulty of communicating in these environments. “They’re familiar with the challenges of communicating in areas where enemy forces have jammed or otherwise disrupted communications. They know how to use alternative methods of communication, such as high-frequency radio, to maintain communications in these areas,” he explains.
Pictured above (L to R): Mason Gaffney as (JMPI) Jumpmaster Personnel Inspection the Marines unit for HALO operations, Alex Ayers on the USS Kitty Hawk and Emil Reynolds out in the field during his Ranger days.
That experience makes them ideally suited to build relationships with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) “since they often were embedded with DoD units, giving them a deep understanding of the DoD’s culture and priorities,” Gaffney says.
He and fellow veteran, Alex Ayers, were recently recognised with an ALL.SPACE “ALL.IN” award for execution excellence in supporting recent terminal testing with customers in Melbourne and Port St. Lucie, FL.
Ayers, principal sales engineer, joined in May 2022 following more than 20 years in the U.S. Army supporting Special Operations communications in various assignments. Ayers’ military service included providing communications support to U.S. special forces in October 1993 in Somalia right before the Black Hawk Down incident. In 1992, he helped do one of the first roll on/roll offs of a satellite system on a U.S. aircraft carrier to provide higher bandwidth communications to a Navy ship.
Like both his colleagues, Ayers has seen the limitations of connectivity up close – in his case, on military ships. “I remember being on a Navy ship and every time we did a slingshot (using a large cable to facilitate take off and landings of fighter planes), it would shake the entire ship so much it moved our satellite dish, disrupting communications. That was 30 years ago and we’re still dealing with the same thing – trying to get extremely high throughput on a ship that is stable and easy to use,” says Ayers.
At the corporate level, ALL.SPACE is partnered with the Three Rangers Foundation’s Ranger-Friendly Career and Community Partners to show support for transitioning Rangers with the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment. We have also recently become a Corporate Partner of the Global SOF Foundation.
“In the past three years, the Foundation has worked with more than 700 current or former Rangers,” says Command Sergeant Major Michael Hall, Executive Director.
He advises the best way a company can help a transitioning Ranger is to provide a specific point of contact for a Ranger to talk with before submitting their resume. “Most job descriptions are not made for veterans coming right out of the service, but companies like yours understand that veterans have intangible strengths – they’re quick learners, they take a lot of initiative and they know how to work with people to make organisations better. Everyone wants to hire veterans, but having a mentor allows them to talk about the opportunity and see how to communicate their strengths that transfer to a commercial role. It really helps level the playing field.”
As a fast-growth technology business focused first on the defence sector, ALL.SPACE is already realising the strengths of hiring former service members.
Reynolds, our designated Ranger network mentor, was drawn to ALL.SPACE after spending much of his career post-Army bringing next-generation capabilities to the military. As a troop leader, he experienced firsthand how sketchy comms could get in mountainous and urban areas, “sometimes for seemingly no reason at all.” In cases when preferred radio or TACSAT (Tactical Satellite) connections didn’t work, he relied on a local cell line to reach TOC (Tactical Operations Center).
He considers our SMART terminal a game-changer for delivering resilient communications regardless of the environment.
“We know the battlefield, especially against peer and near-peer adversaries, will be a contested space in many ways, including in the comms space. That’s where multi-orbit and 5G connectivity really come into play,” he says.
Our innovative ground terminal promises to change the way the Army defines satcom resiliency with its ability to hit different constellations with independent links simultaneously. All of our U.S. military veterans are excited about where the company is headed and what it will mean for the soldiers in the field.
“I’ve been doing comms for SOF people for 30 years (first in Army and later working for iDirect) and this is the first time we have a true resilient system that’s more than a point and shoot to a single satellite,” Ayers said.
Ayers and Gaffney are helping test and validate a terminal that ultimately will support simultaneous GEO, MEO and LEO links, so no matter where operators in the field go, they will have great connectivity and extremely high throughput. “We need to continue to innovate because no matter how much bandwidth we give our customers, they always need more,” Ayers says.
For Gaffney, delivering resilient connectivity to the SOF community where it matters most is never far from his mind. “I’m passionate about providing the best possible solution for my brothers,” he says.