By Army Spc. Brandon Sandefur
Special to American Forces Press Service
Nov. 6, 2008 - Soldiers with the 1st Infantry Division's Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, make sure Task Force Duke has all appropriate lines of communication up and running so the mission can move forward. We maintain the phone and Internet connections for Jalalabad Airfield, which is the central hub for the brigade," said Army Sgt. Alexander Englehart from Temecula, Calif. "We control all of the phones here in Jalalabad as far as programming them, making sure the phone book is up-to-date and things like that. We pretty much do everything related to the phones, other than cables."
Phones and Internet are not the soldiers' only responsibilities. They also maintain satellites and radios. They make sure satellite systems are installed, repaired and maintained correctly. They ensure the satellite link is strong while constantly monitoring their "distant end" in Kuwait to make sure the brigade's "Command Post of the Future" is on the same settings.
"CPOF of the brigade relies on phones and satellites to relay messages and get information so they rely on us to communicate to the higher headquarters and command," said Sgt. Jocelyn Veratio from Manifee, Calif. Afghanistan's mountains limit radio use, he added, so phones and satellites often are a better way to communicate effectively.
Special Troops Battalion soldiers also go out to the line units to work with the soldiers there. They install and maintain line-of-sight radios. They also maintain traffic terminals to give company-level commanders Internet and phone capabilities to link up with higher headquarters, a capability they did not have before, Varatio said.
(Army Spc. Brandon Sandefur serves in the 1st Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)