JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq- Soldiers with the 298th Support Maintenance Company, 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), communications and electronics shop focus their efforts to ensure Soldiers are ready for critical missions.
The section is divided into two major shops: night vision device repair and communication repair. Both teams concentrate their service to ensure that the eyes and ears on convoys and other critical missions are fully operational.
The night vision device repair section diagnoses and repairs most night vision devices, and performs annual services on them. They even fabricated a dark room to better diagnose and protect the light-sensitive components of the devices.
"The high resolution/low resolution testing is more accurate in a dark room, and it does not impact other operations in the shop," said Spc. Eric Hall, a computer detection system repair technician with the 298th SMC, and a Trion, Ga., native.
Spc. Jarrail Dodson, a computer detection system repair technician, and a Fort Worth, Texas, native said that vision is a "key asset" to mission success, so the team's job in the repair shop is important. "We repair and/or replace all faults. The night vision devices have lots of small pieces that can break easily."
The night vision device repair team not only repair small pieces, but also everything from battery housings to broken knobs, ensuring the devices are safe. Additionally, they purge the devices with nitrogen gas.
"Purging protects the internal components and keeps [the devices] running," said Spc. James Weldon, a computer detection system repair technician with the 298th SMC, and a Gainesville, Ga., native.
The communication repair section focuses on any type of communication equipment from Single Channel Ground to Air Radio Systems (SINGARS), to headsets and vehicle intercommunication (VIC) systems. The section sees many different types of equipment, including six versions of SINGARS and multiple radio software. They use automated test equipment to diagnose and determine the root causes of any problem.
The company offers a headset exchange program, which allows units with broken headsets to walk into the shop and exchange the broken headset with a refurbished one. Units can have their communication systems operational within a few minutes.
"Many customers think the whole system is messed up, but it could just be one headset," said Spc. Donovan L. Manguba-Glover, a radio and communications security repair technician with the 298th SMC, and a Wahiawa, Hawaii, native.
The section also provides convoy support. Any type of communication issue can be assessed by the section and over 80 percent of the time repaired within a few hours. They ensure that antennas are emplaced for maximum effectiveness without impacting the mission.
The tedious job of ensuring the communications system in a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle is critical, as errors in the wiring or plugs could cause the entire system to malfunction.
"We make sure the job gets done before the mission," said Spc. William B. Adams, a computer detection system repair technician with the 298t SMC, and an Atlanta native. "If you come in and tell us you have a mission in four hours, we don't stop working until the job is complete."