Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Soldiers Maintain Electronic Warfare Equipment

By Army 2nd Lt. Sophia Volz, Special to American Forces Press Service

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq - It's 2 a.m., and the intelligence electronic warfare maintenance section of the 1st Armored Division's 4th Brigade here is ready to spark into action.

We're on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week," explained Army Warrant Officer Fernando Aguirre of Los Angeles.

Aguirre spearheads the section, overseeing day-to-day operations, providing guidance to commanders, and mentoring soldiers. The section's 12 soldiers officially are responsible for maintaining all intelligence and communications security equipment used by the military intelligence company assigned to the 4th Special Troops Battalion.

"Unofficially though, we also fix everything from coffee pots and iPods to satellite dishes," Aguirre said.

Army Sgt. Jonathan Culpepper of Atlanta, the section's shop foreman, spent more than 11 months training for his current job.

"I'm responsible for all maintenance activities," he said. "This is probably one of the most mentally challenging military occupational specialties."

Army Spc. Brent Leverette of Augusta, Ga., is one of two cryptological equipment repair specialists in the section. "I'm responsible for fixing all the [communications security] equipment for the whole brigade combat team," he said. This means he also is responsible for fixing equipment at the more than 15 outlying bases in Iraq's Dhi Qar, Maysan, and Muthanna provinces, where "Highlander" soldiers advise and assist Iraqi security forces.

The section's soldiers also work with civilian field service representatives to ensure equipment is fixed or replaced in a timely manner.

"If we can't fix it, we send the equipment to the [field service representatives]," Aguirre said. "They usually send us a brand new piece of equipment. It doesn't matter how long it takes to fix the equipment. We've worked for 36 hours straight before. We want to be, and are, the premier electronics maintenance shop in the brigade."