First African American Chief of Signal
LTG (Ret) Robert E. Gray
Although LTG (Ret.) Bob Gray retired from the Army in 1997 with more than 31 years of service, he still plays an active role as a mentor for officers and is a supporter of the Signal Regiment.
This Signal officer’s distinguished career ended as deputy commander in chief of U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army; he was the first Signal general to be appointed to this position, a job usually reserved for combat-arms officers. Before becoming deputy commander, he was U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army’s chief of staff. More upper-level jobs included 35th Signal Brigade commander, Fort Bragg, N.C.; deputy commanding general, U.S. Army Signal Center, Fort Gordon, Ga.; deputy director for plans, programs and systems, Office of the Secretary of the Army, during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm; then Chief of Signal at the Signal Center.
It was during LTG Gray’s tenure as Chief of Signal that he made his most lasting impact on the Signal Regiment. Responsible for training Signal soldiers and leaders in a time of Army downsizing and cutbacks in money and staff, he oversaw Fort Gordon’s expansion just after the Persian Gulf War during the nation’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) initiatives, when three units moved to Fort Gordon. He was also at the helm during the greatest revision to date of enlisted jobs in the Signal Corps’ history, when major changes were made in 47 MOSs and new MOSs were created to answer the Army’s needs. The Signal School reorganized and revamped in the early 1990s to develop and train soldiers for an Army becoming digitally based. Although completed after LTG Gray retired, he was responsible as well for initiating the major changes later occurring with Signal warrant officers, as warrant MOSs consolidated to reflect the Army’s evolution.
LTG Gray also created the first Battle Command Battle Lab at the Signal Center to help the Army better use commercial-off-the-shelf technology and speed the Army’s procurement process. He was the first senior officer to see that automation and communications had to be linked and started the effort with officer training programs at the Signal Center to cross-train Signal officers in automation functions, and Functional Area 53 officers in Signal functions. LTG Gray also enhanced training by expanding technical training at the Regimental Noncommissioned Officers Academy, Mobile Subscriber Equipment training and use of simulators for training at the Signal Center.