Wednesday, December 16, 2009

'Signaleers' Keep Communications Open

By Army 1st Lt. Dannielle Needler, Special to American Forces Press Service

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq - The morale of troops here and success of their missions depends upon communication, whether it's within Iraq or calling back home.

Keeping communications open for the 1st Armored Division's 4th Brigade is the responsibility of "signaleers" -- technicians who enable the commander to send key tactical messages and allow soldiers to make morale calls home.

The newly promoted team chief for the joint network node here is Army Sgt. Brandon Larson from Coon Rapids, Minn. He and his operators -- Army Sgt. Adrien Zavala from Jal, N.M.; Army Spc. Andrew Nelson from Greenfield, Ind.; Army Spc. Aaron Stevens from Fayetteville, N.C.; and Army Spc. Victor Crum from Montgomery, Ala. -- emplace equipment, run cables and provide the access point for the rest of the brigade's communications.

"At the beginning, everything that could go wrong did go wrong," Larson said. But despite the challenges and obstacles throughout the emplacement process, the soldiers of "B" Company were able to remain focused on the mission, he added.

Soldiers of Joint Network Node 92 here have been working around the clock to provide tactical communications for the brigade's headquarters and its subordinate battalions. They provide services such as Internet phones, Internet connectivity and a secure data network so commanders can have command and control over every operation.

Working just as hard at Contingency Operating Site Garryowen, the soldiers of Joint Network Node 7791 provide vital communication services to 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment. Army Sgt. Jeryll Delmar from Grapevine, Texas, and Army Spc. Paul Weigand of Manhattan, Kan., established and maintain a satellite link connecting the regiment's command to the rest of the brigade.

"It's amazing how important our mission is to the brigade," Delmar said.

"The soldiers' hard work has given the battalion the ability to communicate with counterparts throughout Iraq and back to the United States," he added. "Without the hard work and dedication of these soldiers, [4th Battalion] would not be able to conduct operations as efficiently in the Iraq theater."