Operation Tribute to Freedom

Faces From the Front for March 21, 2011 - Sgt. 1st Class Steven L. Ryan

Sergeant First Class Steven L. Ryan

Current Unit: Regional Support Command – North
Current Position: Information Systems Operator Analyst
Component: Active
Current Location: Afghanistan
Hometown: Killeen, Texas
Years of Service: 11

As an information systems operator analyst in Afghanistan, Sgt. 1st Class Steven Ryan’s days begin with a blur of information, in the form of numerous requests and reports regarding communication concerns. But no matter how vast the demands placed upon him, Ryan works tirelessly to tackle each issue, ultimately ensuring that swift information exchange across the battlefield goes uninterrupted for his Soldiers.

“I am responsible for the care, maintenance, security and operation of all the communications equipment in this command,” Ryan explained. “I travel to four other outlying sites all over Northern Afghanistan for troubleshooting, training and installation of new equipment.”

In addition to installing new equipment and training fellow Soldiers to properly use the gear, Ryan also regularly performs preventative maintenance checks and services on the command’s communications apparatuses. He works on a variety of communications equipment ranging from simple to complex, including radios, cell phones, tactical satellite phones, and global positioning devices. Ryan relies on his technical knowledge of the various systems to ensure that it all works flawlessly.

“I test, test and test the equipment again,” Ryan said.

While Ryan has done a great job maintaining communications capabilities for his command during this deployment, he’s had to overcome a variety of challenges in order to successfully complete his work.

“When I took over here in Afghanistan, I didn’t replace anyone, so I had to figure out what my mission was,” Ryan said. “For this area of operations, I deal with much more than the normal information systems operator analyst, but I handle it one problem at a time.”

Ryan is proud of the work he’s accomplished and understands the critical impact that his efforts as a Signal Corps Soldier have in providing his fellow Soldiers a decisive advantage over the enemy and assisting them with fulfilling their missions.

“The job that we do in the Signal Corps allows us to directly affect change on the battlefield. We direct support all communications for the Army. If the infantry is the queen of battle and the artillery is the king of battle, the Signal Corps is the ace,” Ryan explained. “The battlefield is ever-changing. Without the Signal Corps, commanders and leaders cannot talk to their troops--I enable the combatant commander to complete their mission.”

Ryan realizes that his work and that of his fellow Soldiers is important and truly contributes to a greater purpose for the people of Afghanistan.

“I get a chance to interact with the Afghan National Army, Afghan National Police and the Afghan New Beginnings Program on a daily basis and I get to see change first-hand. I see there is hope in this country’s future,” said Ryan. “The people are being proactive. The people want to be free; they say that they see us helping them. They see us taking away from our lives for them, helping and mentoring them. They are truly thankful for us being here.”

Ryan is slated to return home to Virginia this month; he looks forward to spending time with his wife and three children.

As his time in Afghanistan dwindles, Ryan reflects on this deployment and on how thankful he is for having the opportunity to serve this tour with such phenomenal comrades.

“This deployment is my third with a joint command, and has quickly become my favorite due to the bond that this command holds--it’s really special,” Ryan said. “My most rewarding deployment experience has been working with great officers, and NCOs. They are truly professional Soldiers.”

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