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Soldiers Provide Communications Support in Haiti

By Navy Lt. Arlo Abrahamson
Special to American Forces Press Service

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, March 1, 2010 – Soldiers assigned to the communications directorate for the Joint Forces Special Operations Component Command have played a critical role in supporting civil affairs and other humanitarian operations conducted by U.S. special operations forces here during Operation Unified Response.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Pfc. Paul Garland and Pfc. Sean McCall check the setup up of an antenna for voice and data tactical communications in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Feb. 28, 2010. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Robert J. Fluegel

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

Special operations forces served as the commander’s eyes on the ground during the early days of the rescue and recovery phases of relief operations in the wake of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck Jan. 12. These tasks rely heavily on vital links between forward elements and operational commanders, a support capability that Signal Corps soldiers bring to an operation.

“There’s a lot of coordination and streamlining that goes into our job, because we have to work across a variety of networks and satellite feeds,” said Army Staff Sgt. Kelly Williams, a communications team leader. “We have to ensure the end user, our people in the field, have the signal capabilities they need to accomplish their assigned tasks.”

To remain mission capable, Williams said, computer networks must continue to run efficiently, and tactical, radio and satellite communications equipment must be managed and maintained.

“There’s a lot of security protocols and other procedures we must follow to run efficient networks,” Williams said, “but we try to make that as transparent as possible for our users.”

But as Army Staff Sgt. Wayne Potts explained, there’s also a hands-on portion of their mission.

“The civil affairs teams bring communications equipment with them to the field, but we show them how to get the most out of this equipment,” Potts said. “We want to make sure they have the right capabilities when they get to where they are going so they can concentrate on the overall mission we have here in Haiti.”

That mission, humanitarian operations, is one these soldiers know they have enhanced with the skills they bring to the operation.

“We feel good knowing we played a part in the overall success of our mission,” said Army Sgt. Derek Auguste. “Communications are vital to any operation – everyone has to talk and coordinate with each other. We feel like we created an environment where that could be successful.”

(Navy Lt. Arlo Abrahamson serves in the Joint Forces Special Operations Component Command public affairs office.)

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Related Sites:
Special Report: Haiti Earthquake Relief

Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Pfc. Paul Garland checks the set up of an antenna for voice and data tactical communications in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Feb. 28, 2010. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Robert J. Fluegel  
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