Every day in southern Iraq, thousands of U.S. Soldiers across 33 bases are communicating with each other. Most don't realize it, but their connectivity is due to the efforts of a small group of Big Red One Soldiers in Kuwait.

The 1st Infantry Division's "Hub Platoon" at Camp Arifjan is keeping United States Division-South units connected, and they are doing it through the use of a new satellite.

The Wideband Global SATCOM satellite (WGS2) is the successor to the Defense Satellite Communications System-III. One WGS2 satellite has about 12 times the bandwidth of a DSCS-III satellite.

"We are the first divisional unit to be on the new satellite, WGS2, a military owned satellite," said Chief Warrant Officer Kevin Watson, the Hub Platoon leader from Atlanta. "We are the first successful unit to be on it."

"Being on this military-owned satellite saves us millions of dollars," Watson said, "but it's a brand new satellite and no one could tell us how it would perform. We are the test pilots for this satellite."

Although they're based in Kuwait, the Hub Platoon and its use of the WGS2 satellite are the reason units throughout all of southern Iraq are able to communicate on a daily basis.

"All those (bases) out there each have a satellite shelter, the receiving end of the network we send out, and that is what makes it possible for them to use phones and check their emails," said Spc. Matthew Heinen, a native of Ann Arbor, Mich., and a satellite operator and maintainer with Sig. Co., DHHB, 1ID. "When something goes down, we are the ones who start figuring out how to fix the problem."

Being so far away from the rest of their unit, the Hub Platoon is sometimes forgotten about, but they like it that way. It means they are doing their job.

"We are the primary source for the division communication and we have a success rate of 98%," Watson said. "I have some of the best operators in the Army."

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