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Soldiers in Afghanistan Get Dirty to Stay Connected

By Army Pfc. Andrya Hill
Special to American Forces Press Service

KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan, April 16, 2009 – Paratroopers at Forward Operating Base Salerno here are busy running fiber-optic lines to keep critical lines of communication open.

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Army Spc. Robert Troxler stands inside a communication vault in knee-deep water as he pulls lines of fiber-optic cable through tubing buried underground at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan, March 22, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Marcus Butler

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

The 25th Infantry Division paratroopers of Charlie Company, 425th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, are working to keep everyone connected through a variety of services so the battle can continue.

Army Capt. Brian Collins, commander of the network-support company, is leading the team.

“We provide all of the connectivity for the brigade throughout the Task Force Yukon area of operation,” Collins said, referring to a sector of eastern Afghanistan about the size of Maryland. “It is a huge tasking for the smallest company in the entire brigade.”

The network must function at all times “It allows communication flow on the battlefield, which is critical to meeting the commander’s intent,” he said.

Any issues that arise with the network create an urgency that the network specialists meet with efficiency.

“We have soldiers that fly out to different forward operating bases on signal maintenance, we have the help desk located in the tactical operations center, network operations, and constant troubleshooting,” the captain said. ”We do a lot in 24 hours.”

Army Spc. Robert Troxler, a member of the fiber-optic team, agreed. “We have to do our job very well, because if we don’t, then everyone else can’t do their jobs,” he said. “Yeah, we may get a little wet and muddy, but the bottom line is that the job has to be done.”

Collins took command of the company during its last deployment tour in Iraq, and 22 months later, he said he has seen the results of his team’s hard work: a proficient group of soldiers who are close-knit both on and off duty.

“We are a very tight company,” he said, smiling. “I have just an incredible team. They make everything happen. They are awesome!”

(Army Pfc. Andrya Hill serves in the 25th Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)

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U.S. Forces Afghanistan

Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Spc. Ryan Sudbeck sloshes through mud as he pulls lines of fiber-optic cable off a reel to allow other members of his team to pull the cable through tubing buried underground at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan, March 22, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Marcus Butler  
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