Tabasum Sharqi (left) opens a book she received for graduating at the top of her Fatima Girls High School class at a ceremony held at the Kunar Department of Women’s (click for more)
Soldiers from the Polish Army and the Texas National Guard Agribusiness Development Team-IV check their shot grouping during qualification on the Polish AK-74 5.56 mm Mini-Beryl short assault rifle Feb. (click for more)
U.S. Army Soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, play an impromptu game of volleyball against a team (click for more)
Dr. Mehirulla Muslim, the Nurgaram District subgovernor, addresses an audience of teachers, government officials and citizens during a ceremony to celebrate a completed solar panel electricity project Feb. 21 in (click for more)
U.S. Army Spc. Raheem Stewart, an automations specialist with TF Phoenix, steps along the rafters of the building his team helped wire for communications. Stewart, from Dallas, was one of (click for more)
An Afghan National Army soldier from Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 201st Infantry Regiment, searches a pile of rocks in the courtyard of a high-value target home outside the village of (click for more)
U.S. Army Capt. Nicole Zupka of Fair Lawn, N.J., a battlewatch captain with Combined Joint Task Force-Paladin, helps an Afghan child with her writing skills during female engagement team training (click for more)
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army soldiers move through Kharwar District to prevent the Taliban’s freedom of movement Feb. 12. U.S. and Afghan soldiers braved more than 3 feet (click for more)
Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team II members, U.S. Army Spc. Justin Allen (left), a London, Ky., native, and U.S. Army Sgt. Nicholas Combs, a Corbin, Ky., native, get to know a (click for more)
PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Modern communication seems to work like magic for the end-user; the press of a power button, the click of a mouse, or the strike of a key and messages send or receive in an instant. Even in areas as austere as Afghanistan, instant communication exists, in part, due to the Soldiers who run the cables.
In Bagram, the freshly-developed east side boasts state-of-the-art communications technology, thanks to a collaborative effort of communications Soldiers from the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade.
“It starts with an idea, a plan, and a lot of manual labor,” says U.S. Army Maj. Scott Herzog, brigade communications officer-in-charge.
According to Herzog, who hails from Auburn Hills, Mich., the idea began with Soldiers learning to splice fiber optics cable.
“Fiber cable is made of glass, so you have to know what you’re doing in order to run lines from the main fiber,” explains Herzog, “From there, you splice from the main cable, to connectors, to switches, to ports.”
Picture the human circulatory system: arteries carry the main flow of blood to veins; veins carry blood to the capillaries; capillaries then divide and bring the parts of the blood needed in the body. The cable lines work in a similar fashion.
“When you splice into the main line, you connect to a switch,” Herzog continues, “The switch converts glass cable to copper wire. The wire sends messages to specific ports. Your computer plugs into a port and that’s how you get your information.”
The plan for the east side involves wiring a total of 33 buildings. Of those 33, 18 now possess instant communications with the remaining 15 still in progress.
However, the most daunting portion of the plan meant running the main fiber cables through man-hole systems.
“Since the man-hole systems only went so far, we were looking at digging two trenches, splicing into the main cable for wiring, running wires into the buildings, wiring the buildings and establishing ports,” says U.S. Army Capt. David Edwards, the communications officer-in-charge for Task Force Phoenix.
Capt. Edwards asserts that a project of this magnitude occurs with the assistance of communications Soldiers, lending their skills and experience. The Dallas native credits the collaboration of the different shops with the over-all success.
“We had the brigade S6, himself, out in the bad weather with us, climbing down into cold, muddy water to run cable. You know, that really says something; it means a lot,” emphasizes Edwards.
While Herzog’s team from brigade headquarters assisted with the manual labor, Edwards readily admits that U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jason Maldonado’s team from Task Force Mountain Eagle took on the brunt of it.
“They really had an interesting time,” said Edwards laughing.
Since the winter months in Bagram bring cold, wet weather, running the cables meant climbing down into cold, wet man-holes. In at least one case, the water in the man-hole came up to the Soldiers’ chest.
“We ran two lines of fiber cable through three man-holes, which were all about a half-mile apart from each other,” explains Staff Sgt. Maldonado, who hails from Toa Baja, Puerto Rico.
“It was not an ideal situation,” Maldonado concedes.
In four days, the team waded through cold water and mud to: run the cables through the man-hole systems; dig two trenches, each a half-mile long; cover the lines in the trenches; and run the wires into the building.
Once indoors, the work proved just as harrowing at moments.
“We had to run wires throughout the building, so we had to walk along the rafters in the ceilings sometimes to make that happen. So, if you don’t step in the right spot, you risk falling right through the ceiling,” explains Maldonado.
Wiring a single building includes running the lines inside and terminating the ends to add connections to run to the switch. In this case, Maldonado’s four-man team ran 375 lines to ports, put on the faceplates, terminated the ends, tested the lines, and then labelled the ports.
U.S. Army Spc. Danny Griffin, a cable system installer from Knoxville, Tenn. and member of Maldonado’s team, puts the meticulous work into perspective, “My motivation is to just get it done; getting to the next mission.”
“Definitely a lot of work goes into it,” stresses Spc. Griffin, “At the start, when you think about everything that needs to happen, it seems mind-boggling. So you just have to keep working and get it done.”
Ultimately, it took the team 10 days to complete the project - just 11 days shy of their original projection of three weeks.
“The reason we finished this project so early,” Edwards maintains, “and why it meant so much is because the whole S6 community came together. We had my shop (TF Phoenix), Staff Sgt. Maldonado’s team (TF Mountain Eagle), and even the Soldiers at brigade all pulling together.”
With a good system in place, the teams expect to finish wiring the east side buildings by the end of the deployment, just in time for the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade - and subsequent units - to enjoy the magic of full spectrum communications.
“Just remember,” reminds Herzog, “every time you pick up a phone, receive an email on NIPR, SIPR or Centrix or check out Facebook- the S6 has touched your life.”
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