June 11th, 2007 05:48 EST
Communication Still Key to Success
By Army Sgt. Brandon Aird
173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs
FORWARD OPERATING BASE FENTY, Afghanistan – During World War I, a battalion advanced too far into enemy lines and came under a barrage of friendly artillery fire. The only means for communication was a pigeon named Cher Ami. Cher Ami took to the skies and instantly took enemy fire taking a round to the chest, eye and foot. However, that didn’t stop Cher Ami from delivering the message and saving the battalion.
Luckily for the troops of the 173rd Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), the Army doesn’t rely on the valor of pigeons anymore, but the flow of information today is just as important as it was back then.
That’s why 173rd BCT Combined Communications Shop is hard at work picking up where the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Task Force Spartan) stopped.
The 173rd BCT’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company communication’s shop and Charlie Company, 173rd Special Troops Battalion, joined together and are working day and night running thousands of feet of wire.
The incoming task force headquarters, Task Force Bayonet, is significantly larger than the TF Spartan headquarters. The difference caused cramped living and working conditions during the transition period.
The influx of Soldiers required new buildings to be built for work areas.
“We’re running 24-hour operations,” said Army Sgt. William E. Nievaart, HHC, 173rd BCT.
As fast as the buildings are built, the communications shop is installing non-secure and secure internet drops, and Voice over Internet Protocol phones.
“We’ve installed 15-20 VoIP phones, run over 2,000 feet of non-secure internet cable, and 1,000 feet of secure internet cable since we got here,” said Army Sgt. Christopher Masterson, Charlie Company, 173rd Special Troops Battalion.
The secure internet is a lot more difficult to install than non-secure internet. The cable has to be run through under ground pipes. The actual drops are secured in locked boxes to ensure that no one will tamper with them.
The information that will be flowing through these systems installed by the communication shop will play a key role in combat and day-to-day operations. Without it the 173rd BCT might find itself looking for a new Cher Ami.