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Month: April 2011

The Signal Team Chief’s Toolkit, Part I


I took over as my CPN’s Team Chief toward the end of our deployment, as our original Team Chief took leave late and it didn’t make sense to push him back out to our site with only a couple months remaining. Unfortunately, I fell in on a mess. Our Theater Property and Organizational Equipment was spread out to our customers and, aside from a hand receipts, I had little idea what was where.

So, with 20/20 hindsight, I am writing a series of best practices called The Signal Team Chief’s Toolkit. Hopefully, this will be of use to my fellow Army Signal soldiers who are either new to the Team Chief position or are looking for a better way to do things.

Dealing With Equipment

First, it goes without saying that everything not in your shop should be either hand receipted if in use or locked securely in your ISU-90/quad-con. This should be done without exception. Even if you trust the person using your equipment implicitly, a hand receipt will not only cover your ass in the event that something goes wrong, but will aid in the accountability of your equipment during inventories. Remember, do a hand receipt every time.

Get the DA 2062 form in PureEdge or PDF format.

Second, create a tracker of all your equipment, where it is, and to whom it is hand-receipted. You should actually do this before your team validates in country. Once your team begins installing remote switches and loaning (and hand-receipting!) equipment to your customers, the tracker should be modified to identify the location of the equipment and who signed for it. It should look something like this:

Cisco IP Phone 7941 FCH1338AWKM Task Force LT Black
Cisco IP Phone 7941 FHK1330A06C Task Force LT Black
Cisco IP Phone 7941 FCH1338AVQC Post Office SSG Blue
Cisco IP Phone 7965 FCH141187RD KAF SSG White
Dell Laptop 6400 1CXS0L1 Task Force LT Black

Keeping this up-to-date will save major headaches during cyclic inventories and especially during your RIP.

I’ve gone ahead and created a Excel worksheet that includes the proper headings and filters to get you started.

Next, as each device (phone, computer, or printer) is added to the network, you should create a document identifying the device and its pertinent information, like IP address configuration, location, and whether or not it was added to active directory. These should go into a binder where they can be easily referenced. When a device is removed from the network for one reason or another, write ‘REMOVED’ in marker across the page, but keep it around for reference purposes, possibly in a different section of your binder.

My device information sheets are available in Word and PDF formats.

Finally, create and maintain a tracker for your statically-assigned IP addresses. Printed copies of this tracker is very useful to the IMOs who are actually assigning the IPs to the end-users’ computers.

My tracker is available in Excel format.

If you have any suggestions or tips of your own, please leave a comment or email me at

EDIT: Links fixed. – 13 NOV 11

Initial Impressions of ICS CQB-R

I picked up the ICS M4 CQB-R from Airsoft GI some time ago while it was on sale for just $60 more than the Sportline model. While on R&R, I got to play with it a bit and figured I’d post my initial impressions of the gun.


  • Overall, the gun looks impressive. Color is right for an AR.
  • Metal body is good and has little to no receiver rattle.
  • Crane stock doesn’t look like a “real” crane stock. Not an issue for me, but not right if you’re trying for an impression.
  • The gun can only use one specific battery. This can be a pain, but is used so that the stock can collapse fully without crimping wires. Changing the battery also requires the removal of two screws, which will be a pain in the field. Bring a Gerber.
  • RIS has some play to it, as if the spring in the delta ring isn’t strong enough. I use a rail-mounted QD sling adaptor, so this was initially a concern, but it doesn’t move enough to worry me that it will fall out. Later, I might try shimming it to prevent movement.
  • Selector switch doesn’t lock into place well. The detents in Safe, Semi, and Full barely catch and the selector can move if it rubs against you while slung.
  • Magazine release doesn’t extend as far as the real steel mag release. It sticks out about 7mm or so and is therefore not as easy to depress as the real versions. This can be a pro or a con, depending on how you look at it. It just felt weird to me.
  • Marked with ICS trades. Not a problem for me, but may be for some. The trades are well etched.


  • ICS Hop-Up system is great, but a little hard to manipulate. Works very well.
  • During my research, I read that the Inner Barrel length was 300mm. This is not so. When I threw in a 300mm tightbore, it extended nearly to the end of the flash hider. I forgot to measure the original barrel.
  • The split gearbox is great. It performs well and I plan on getting a new upper gearbox with an M120 spring for larger field use. That way, I can just swap out “uppers” and be on my way.


  • The rate-of-fire of Auto is insane. The stream of BBs is like a laser and I was tearing down all of the foliage between me and my targets. Even when the battery was nearing the end of its charge, the ROF was still pretty impressive.
  • As I replaced the stock inner barrel with a tightbore almost immediately, I can’t comment on accuracy of the stock gun. However, with the TBB, I was able to make a 3 inch grouping at 60 feet (25 shots on semi-auto with shots fired in quick succession).
  • Every magazine I put into it (various brands and capacities) fed well. The included high-caps seemed to be hit-or-miss, but I don’t plan on using them anyway.
  • My rough estimate of the FPS is around 350.

Accessories (aka Stuff in the Box)

  • The included rear sight is nice and well constructed.
  • The two rail covers are of the KAC-type and are pretty standard.
  • The vertical foregrip is also KAC-style, but feels a little lighter and cheaper than the already light and cheap real steel version.
  • The bottle of included .20g ICS BBs are pretty good quality and I used them in my GBB. The fact that they come in a bottle is a nice little feature.

Overall, I’m pretty satisfied with my purchase. The gun will work well for CQB and (with a barrel extension and longer inner barrel) outdoor games. It is well constructed and seems like I’ll be able to put it through its paces.

My Chrome Extensions

One of the best part about modern (read: no IE) browsers is the ability to add functionality with extensions. My primary browser has been Google Chrome since my wife turned me onto it and it has an amazing collection of extensions.

Here are the three extensions that I run all the time and I can’t live without.

AdBlock Plus for Google Chrome (Beta) – The old Firefox extension reworked for Google Chrome. This extension blocks advertisements from the most popular advertising hosts on the web. This extension works so well that I forgot there were adult ads on It was pretty embarrassing to open it up on my parents’ computer.

Google Mail Checker – A simple little extension that adds a button to the right of the address bar which displays the current number of unread email in your Gmail inbox. Clicking the button opens up Gmail in a new tab. This is great for my Mac where the Gmail Notifier is sub-par.

Easy Youtube Video Downloader – Adds a little button below YouTube videos that lets you download the video in MP4, FLV, or MP3 formats. It supports HD video downloading and is awesome. The drawback is that it’s not an official Chrome extension (violates the TOS, I think) so it doesn’t update itself. Definitely worth downloading.

Now Integrated With Facebook

As of now, my blog is currently integrated with Facebook, meaning you can “Like” posts and use your Facebook identity to comment on posts. If you are currently logged into Facebook (or keep yourself logged in), all you have to do is click on the “Add A Comment” button and you’re ready to go.