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Communications Team Keeps Soldiers Connected

By Spc. Cheryl Ransford, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

SHINDAND AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Dec. 23, 2004 – Keeping servicemembers across Afghanistan connected is no small task for signal corps soldiers.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Sgts. Jacob Wilhoite, left, and Michael Ridling, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, set up a tactical satellite antenna at Shindand Airfield, Afghanistan. Photo by Spc. John McGregor, USA

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

One small team has done its part by providing the people assigned to this southwestern Afghanistan airfield the ability to communicate with each other.

The communications team has maintained the communications equipment in 125 tactical vehicles and has installed 10 Internet connections on base, said Army Sgt. 1st Class Joe Belew, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment. The team also installed the equipment necessary for soldiers to enjoy the American Forces Network in the morale, welfare and recreation tent, the dining facility and the gym.

Staying up to date on current events and staying in touch with family are important for soldiers' morale. Keeping personnel connected is what communications is all about, said Sgt. Michael Ridling.

"If the soldiers aren't talking, the mission can't be completed," he said. "Whether they are staying in touch with loved ones, keeping their morale high, or communicating with each other during a mission, without the equipment we provide and keep running, they wouldn't be able to do any of it."

Along with providing communications for their squadron, the 13-member team provided and maintained communications for all of Regional Command West before Task Force Longhorn was established to command the units in the western region of Afghanistan.

"Prior to October, our job was much more extensive than it is now," said Belew. "Not only were the guys responsible for the communications in and out of Shindand, but also all communications at Chaqcharan, Herat and Farah." While the team still supports all four locations, it now has help from TF Longhorn.

"Even though we still control the communications in Shindand, it has made our mission easier to accomplish in the other areas now that we are receiving support from Longhorn," said Belew. "We are responsible for close to a fifth of Afghanistan. Even though the job was getting done, it's nice to know there is someone else out there to help accomplish the long-term goals of the coalition mission."

(Army Spc. Cheryl Ransford is assigned to the 17th Public Affairs Detachment.)

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3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment

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