War on Terrorism

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Afghan Forces Make Improvements to National Communication Flow

By Spc. Nathan W. Hutchison, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

March 12, 2008 - With the growth of Afghan national
security forces since the establishment of democracy in Afghanistan, the need for consolidated information and authority has become essential. One way in which consolidated information and authority is disseminated, is through joint regional coordination centers.

The coordination centers are comprised of about 20
military and police personnel who disseminate information and guidance to members of smaller tactical elements. Such institutions require planning and management of units to happen in real-time 24 hours a day.

Joint regional coordination centers are an example of the movement and management of information and personnel through
tactical operations center-style operations. Of the six JRCCs in place in Afghanistan, the center for the eastern region, consisting of Paktya, Paktika, Khost and Ghazni provinces, is nearly fully operational.

"One of the main goals is to get all these provinces supplied with the same capabilities," said
Army Capt. Todd A. Book, mentor to Joint Regional Coordination Center East. Book is a member of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. "We need to get everyone operating with the same technology to allow fluid information exchange," he said.

JRCC East communicates with provincial coordination centers and the National Coordination Center, so compatible equipment and programs across the board are important, Book said.

Along with
technology comes training. The two-man mentor team provides help where it is needed, and one place where it is focused during these early stages is computer fundamentals.

"We teach the senior (Afghan) noncommissioned officers and officers so they can train the others," said
Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric R. Lasica, also a JRCC mentor with 508th Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team. "We have programs on the computer to help with typing. You have to start with the basics and work your way up."

Along with
computer training, Book and Lasica teach classes on map reading and filling out and distributing reports. "We want to get them at the same dissemination of information and information flow capabilities we have," Book said. "Along with that, we have to maintain a consistency throughout the whole country, because the information flow doesn't stop here."

Because information is being moved through the joint regional coordination centers from the national level and provincial levels, the need for accurate and expedient communications is paramount, Lasica said.

"We have two of the provinces up on all communication capabilities -- very similar to what we would have in our own (
tactical operations center)," Book said. "We are still working with contractors to get the other two provinces on the same track.

"We still have radio communication, but we need to get Internet capabilities to help with reports and real-time information exchange."

There is still a lot to be done, but Book said he has seen dramatic improvements and growth in his two months of mentorship.

"We're working on mentoring these guys to build capability and capacity," Lasica said. "It is a slow process, but these guys have made leaps and bounds in the last couple months."

(
Army Spc. Nathan W. Hutchison is assigned to 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

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