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Face of Defense: Guard Members Embrace Satellite Technology

By Army Spc. Manda Walters
129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

RAPID CITY, S.D., Oct. 26, 2012 – Soldiers with the South Dakota Army National Guard’s 129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment trained on state-of-the-art satellite equipment Oct. 22-24 here at Camp Rapid in preparation for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Spc. Manda Walters attaches a satellite dish to the Defense Video Imagery Distribution System’s mobile satellite during training at Camp Rapid, S.D., Oct. 23, 2012. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Julieanne Morse

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

The Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System’s mobile satellite, known as DVIDS Direct, will give the unit, made up of journalists and broadcasters, the capability of providing U.S. news media with real-time broadcast-quality video, photography and print products.

“The unit could broadcast high-profile events live,” said Donovan Hill, a support engineer with NORSAT Inc., who provided the training. “DVIDS Direct was used in the spring of 2012 to feed video of the president’s address from Bagram Airfield.”

DVIDS Direct will also allow the 129th to provide media outlets with immediate interview opportunities with service members, commanders and subject matter experts.

“This technology allows television or radio stations the opportunity to interview soldiers from their community, live on-the-air,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Theanne Tangen, operations noncommissioned officer. “The system will also provide our unit internet capabilities, allowing us to upload our content in remote areas that are without the internet.”

The training focused on introducing members of the 129th to satellite terminology and the technical aspect of satellite news gathering.

“The unit has not used satellite systems prior to the training, so we were shown everything from setting up the satellite dishes, to operating the software and transmitting video,” Tangen said. “We went through the entire process enough times that we’re confident in our abilities and look forward to using the technology overseas to help us reach an even bigger audience.”

The 129th will add two DVIDS Direct systems to their inventory, which will be used in Afghanistan and when they return home.

“DVIDS Direct will let us distribute our products immediately to media outlets worldwide, whether we are in South America covering stories on our State Partnership Program or here in South Dakota reporting on the National Guard’s role in statewide emergencies like the Missouri River Flood,” said Army Sgt. Jacqueline Fitzgerald, broadcast noncommissioned officer.

“This technology will enhance our ability to provide media with reliable access to all branches of the U.S. armed forces and coalition partners serving overseas,” Tangen said. “It also helps us fulfill the military’s obligation to provide maximum disclosure of information with minimum delay.”


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