Monday, February 14, 2011

Face of Defense: Soldier Keeps Units Connected

By Army 1st Lt. Ashley Allen and Army 1st Lt. Jose Perez
Task Force Dagger

LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Feb. 14, 2011 – Operating in a country with rugged, mountainous terrain can present many communications challenges, but Army Spc. Joseph Sirovy is keeping his units connected.

Sirovy, a multichannel transmissions systems operator from Knox, Ind., assigned to the 10th Mountain Division’s Company C, 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, ensures his units throughout Wardak and Logar provinces in eastern Afghanistan can communicate.

“I am trying to make a difference at the company and platoon levels for soldiers to be able to communicate to their command,” he said.

As the technical expert for a team that assesses and repairs communications equipment, Sirovy provides communication analysis throughout the brigade’s area of operations. This support allows Task Force Patriot to communicate in a clear and timely manner, even at the lowest levels, so the soldiers can conduct effective military operations and, more importantly, keep ahead of insurgents and the Taliban, said Army Capt. Craig Starn, Company C commander, from Grafton, W.Va.

Afghanistan has limited fixed-line telephone service, ranking 139th in the world, according to the CIA's World Fact Book website. Terrain is the biggest obstacle for establishing communications within Task Force Patriot’s operating area of Afghanistan, Sirovy said, and communications leaders are using commercial equipment to push network services to companies and platoons that aren’t located on larger forward operating bases.

Signal site assessments play a significant role in maintaining reliable tactical communications down to the lowest levels, said Army Maj. Keith Dawson, Task Force Patriot brigade communications and automations officer in charge from Hammond, La.

Sirovy said he enjoys conducting assessments throughout Logar and Wardak provinces because he leaves the forward operating base and gets to fix and prevent communication problems.

Dawson said Sirovy and the assessment team are vital to maintaining communications within the task force because the host nation has very limited landlines, forcing the brigade to rely mainly on its own signal equipment, such as satellite communication. And because Task Force Patriot’s communication network is four times the size of an average brigade’s, he added, an active assessment team is especially important.

Sirovy said he has learned to assess and maintain satellite communications equipment and computer networking systems, and that his training and experience would be valuable in the civilian sector, thanks to the latest technology the Army is using.

However, Sirovy added, he is not necessarily thinking of leaving the Army any time soon. While he joined the Signal Corps to learn about the signal and communications field, he said, he also enlisted for three reasons: to serve his country, to make something of himself and to provide for his child.

Sirovy and Starn travel to different locations weekly to complete surveys. Sirovy inspects all of the signal equipment for each unit to make sure it’s functioning properly. He fixes issues on the spot and determines whether parts need to be ordered or repaired.

That work is critical, Starn said, because the units must have uninterrupted communications to their higher authority during combat operations.

Army 1st Sgt. Adrian Borel of Lafayette, La., Company C’s first sergeant, explained why Sirovy was chosen for his position on the assessment team and why he is so successful.

“Specialist Sirovy is dedicated to mission accomplishment and will not accept failure,” he said. “He continuously seeks to expand his knowledge base of signal equipment and its capability pertaining to each unit’s primary mission focus.”

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