U.S. Army Africa Contingency Command Post completes deployment exercise
August 22, 2011
VICENZA, Italy - Nearly 30 Soldiers and Civilians of U.S. Army Africa (USARAF) packed up and moved the organization's expeditionary command post to Aviano Air Base in northern Italy Aug. 8-12.
The ECP is a medium sized version of a newly configured mobile operations center used by the USARAF Contingency Command Post. The CCP provides USARAF Commander Maj. Gen. David R. Hogg with worldwide communications links for his organization's forward command element wherever it is deployed, be it on the African continent or elsewhere.
For many of the crew, the exercise was a shake-down event resulting in several firsts.
For Lt. Col. Tim Williams, it was his first opportunity to lead the CCP as its commander. Williams, in his second week of command, credited the teamwork of his unit for the success of the deployment.
"This has been a great teaching and learning environment. I'm the new guy on the block and fortunate to have very sharp NCOs and officers who have been instrumental in ensuring a successful deployment," Williams said.
"Most of the team leadership has been with the CCP since its inception. They know their jobs and the equipment extremely well," he said.
The successful completion of the deployment exercise is a major step in validating USARAF's command post for real world missions. The exercise also featured several firsts for the unit.
"One of the most challenging aspects of operating the CCP is integrating all the different war fighting functions the commanding general has at his disposal. The ECP is a flexible response force and contains various communications packages and capabilities from Internet to video teleconferencing," Williams said.
Sgt. Maurice Enright, II, of Chepachet, R.I. is a CCP information systems operator. He was involved in another first during the deployment exercise.
"We established a Ka band satellite link. From what we understand, we are the first U.S. Army unit in Europe to establish the link," Enright said.
He explained some of the challenges of setting up a Ka band satellite link.
"Being the first means we don't have any reference points created by other units. It's unknown territory for us, and we don't have the benefit of a previously used link. We worked closely with our regional hub node in Germany, and made several adjustments to bring in a more continuous transmission and feed," Enright said.
"This is the first time I have ever set up a Ka band link, so I'm learning and having fun at the same time. If I do something wrong, I'm not breaking it -- I readjust and get it right."
He said the result will make the ECP fully functional for future operations.
"Wherever we go on the African continent, we'll be able to have internet for whoever we are supporting at the time. This exercise will give me experience we'll need when we're supporting anyone who needs the Ka band when have real world missions," Enright said.
The deployment exercise also evaluated the CCPs ability to use U.S. Air Force (USAF) aircraft as a mode of transportation. Prior to using USAF planes, all Army vehicles must go through a joint inspection known as a JI.
"We've had a couple of big stars for this exercise. Sergeants Ralph Keller and Christopher Kendall were instrumental in getting us through the joint inspection conducted with the Air Force. They had the paperwork in lockstep and it ensured the success of the joint inspection," Williams said.
Kendall took on the responsibility of being a first-time unit movement specialist during the exercise.
"This was my first time to being the unit movement specialist. Some of it was new territory for me. I just jumped in and when I made some mistakes, I learned from them and corrected them," Kendall, a native of York, Pa. said.
During the JI, only one major deficiency was identified.
"Our biggest challenge during the joint inspection was the fuel level in our vehicles. We had the fuel levels at three-quarters and had to adjust to one-half tank, and there were a few other minor corrections that we made on the spot," Kendall said.
With the successful completion of the exercise, USARAF's CCP is ready to deploy when and where it's needed on African continent.