Signal Soldiers Wire Forward Operating Base in Iraq
By Army Sgt. Daniel T. West
Special to American Forces Press Service
FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELTA, Iraq, June 24, 2008 “Running cable isn’t that interesting unless you stop and play with the puppy,” said Army Spc. Jennifer Dimitroff, a Lancaster, Calif., native assigned to Company B, 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion here.
Army Spc. Sharmayne Smith, a Washington, D.C., native assigned to Company B, 44th Expeditionary Signal Battalion, works on cable in an office on Forward Operating Base Delta, Iraq, June 21, 2008. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Daniel T. West, 214th Fires Brigade
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The puppy Dimitroff mentioned was adopted by contractors living near one of the many manholes Company B’s soldiers are working to refurbish.
Company B provides voice and data services for Forward Operating Base Delta, as well as 12 other sites, Army Capt. Kelly McCay, Company B commander, said.
These soldiers stay busy establishing and running a technical control facility as well as 26 miles of fiber-optic cable through a series of manholes around the base. They work to ensure communications are available for all who need them, said McCay, a Central City, Ky., native.
Company B is also on the front line as FOB Delta grows, working to provide for all new units and personnel.
“As new buildings are raised, we work within the construction process to ensure they are wired for communications,” McCay said.
New construction is only half the mission. Company B also must service existing cables. As the 41st Fires Brigade arrives from Fort Hood, Texas, and prepares to take charge of FOB Delta, the number of work orders has jumped by 65 percent.
“One challenge has been dealing with the speed of growth on the FOB,” said Army 1st Lt. Michael Marrinan, a Wyckoff, N.J., native and officer in charge of the technical control facility. “There’s an issue with resources and a lack of personnel. We have to manage who’s most important for the mission to keep up with how fast demand is growing.”
Morale remains high in the company despite the challenges, McCay said.
“Many times, people don’t see the impact of their work; they just work their shifts,” he said. “The motivation level is high because they see the impact each day of what they’re doing.”
These soldiers have proven to be flexible, often working in jobs for which they never trained.
Army Spc. Blake Martin, a satellite communications technician, said he has no regrets about coming to Iraq.
“I wanted to do my part,” he said. “I saw soldiers on TV working over here and wanted to do my part to help that. I joined to come over here. … I feel I’ve done my part here.”
(Army Sgt. Daniel T. West serves in the 214th Fires Brigade Public Affairs Office.)