CONTINGENCY OPERATING STATION MAREZ, MOSUL, Iraq - In most units, the routine technical requirements of information technology needed to keep a network\'s computers, phones, printers and other signal equipment operational goes unnoticed.

Most people don't think about the effort and knowledge needed to keep the Army's numerous communications systems running.

In fact, most Soldiers don't think about the S-6 section until they have an issue with their computer or any of their other comm equipment.

The 130th Engineer Brigade's S-6 is responsible for the continuous availability and integrity of the local network connectivity, and for security of numerous communications systems that keep information flowing and the brigade productivity running smoothly.

From running network cables to troubleshooting communications equipment issues, the seven-man team is continually on the go. Its main focus is to provide signal support for various types of systems, to include the Blue Force Tracker, Frequency Management communications, Army Battle Command Systems, and anything that produces automated productivity.

The team also ensures the brigade's secure radios are up to date with the latest "crypto" for tactical communications during missions outside the wire.

The most important aspect of the S-6 section's job in Iraq is providing the critical communications that enhance the brigade's role in the U.S.-Iraqi partnership, according to Maj. Alex Bishop, signal officer, 130th Eng. Bde.

The brigade is responsible for engineering and reconstruction efforts in Ninewa province. With engineer battalions and companies scattered throughout not only Ninewa province, but all of Multi-National Division-North, reliable communications is essential.

The S-6 section, on average, responds to 10-15 help desk requests per day, not including the emergency walk-ins who need assistance right away or the "while-you-are-here" requests received while working on various trouble tickets in different offices.

Bishop said, when the brigade first arrived in country, his team responded to about 40 per day.

"When we first got to Iraq, my section worked about 16-18 hours a day to establish the required network structures, so all the brigade's sections could function. While it has slowed down, new requirements continue to arise, requiring further expansion to our established networks," Bishop said.

Sgt. Stacey Sill, a signal support system specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 130th Engineer Bde., uses her technical expertise to troubleshoot and solve any issues that come up with the brigade's communications network.

"We can fix a problem one way, but sometimes the same problem comes up the next day, and yesterday's solution won't work," said Sill.

Along with setting up and maintaining the brigade's computer network, another S-6 responsibility is compliance and information assurance security. Recently, the S-6 section took time to make life, here, a little more enjoyable for the brigade's headquarters. The section spent several days running cables for American Forces Network (AFN) to Soldiers' containerized housing units, CHUs, which are the Soldiers' "home away from home" in Iraq.

With limited entertainment options in Iraq, AFN provides news, movies, sports and other programs to entertain the troops.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16