Special to American Forces Press Service
June 12, 2009 - Iraqi security forces are learning more than just fighting skills from their coalition forces partners. Soldiers of the 1st Calvary Division's Company C, Division Special Troops Battalion, are passing on their technical expertise of fiber optics cable technology to Iraqi army leaders. An Iraqi army officer and a senior noncommissioned officer spent three days learning to install, service and maintain fiber optic cables for use in military communications systems. The hands-on training will, in turn, allow the Iraqi soldiers to pass along the knowledge of fiber optics technology to their soldiers.
At the communications infrastructure building on Camp Liberty here on May 13, the Iraqi soldiers were in their second day of instruction. Soldiers gathered around a small table with pliers, wire strippers and what looked like thin, hair-like strands of multicolored wires. But they were not wires at all; they were tiny, glass fiber optic cables designed to carry data with light signals.
Army Spc. Jorge Lugo grabbed a thick black cable and used a pair of pliers to hack away the outer covering and tether, which protects the delicate fiber optic cables bundled inside. Lugo handed one end of the half-cut cable to Iraqi Sgt. 1st Class Saad Jafar Kareem and asked him to pull in the opposite direction.
In what looked like the Thanksgiving tradition of yanking apart a turkey wishbone, Lugo and Kareem pulled the cable in opposite directions until the fiber optic cables snapped in half. The break was deliberate, intended to simulate what often happens when cables are damaged during installation, repair or during construction.
"We are basically cross-training pretty much our expertise -- everything we know about fiber optic cables and making splices," Army Spc. Eugene Collado said.
Lugo used a fusion splicer to repair a broken fiber optic cable. The device uses heat to melt the glass cable, fusing the two pieces together seamlessly.
"The splicer takes both ends of cable and melts the inside of the cable, like replacing a joint," Lugo said. "It makes it like a perfect joint, with no loss of glass."
Kareem carefully inserted the two ends of a broken cable into the splicer and mended them back together. A display screen on the splicer allowed Kareem to see if the mend was successful. The screen showed that the mend was perfect, and the cable was restored as if it had never been broken.
"It is a scenario of, if a fiber optic cable was cut, instead of running a new cable, you can splice them," Collado explained.
A real repair job also was part of the training. Collado and Iraqi 2nd Lt. Jassim Mohammed Walid helped to install a fiber optic line to the 1st Cavalry Division's band hall on Camp Liberty, Kareem said.
"We are trying to cover every aspect of fiber optics," Collado said.
Kareem said his training was thorough and was explained to him in simple terms by his American partners. "We learn so we can do the same," he said. "Watching was an easy process."
Army Sgt. Nekito Turner, cable section squad leader, oversaw the training and said he was pleased with the classes.
"From what I've seen, they did a good job teaching, and the [Iraqi soldiers] did a good job learning," he said.
(Army Sgt. Jon Soles serves in the Multinational Division Baghdad public affairs office).