By Spc. Michael Vanpool, 101st Sustainment BrigadeMarch 23, 2011
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - Before any convoy leaves the confines of Bagram, a countless number of Soldiers make their rounds to guarantee the convoy has everything to accomplish its mission.
Ammunition is stocked, gear is packed and electronic warfare is tested.
For the latter, Spc. Yolanda Goodman, an electronic warfare specialist with the 277th Sustainment Maintenance Company, a Georgia National Guard unit, ensures that the Duke system on every truck is operational and ready for the Soldiers on the road.
The Duke system is a counter improvised explosive device system which jams frequencies to neutralize the threat of IEDs. "The Duke system blocks frequency so that cell phones and Long Range Cordless Telephones can't set off an IED," Goodman, a native of Columbus, Ga., said.
Across Afghanistan, cell phones and LRCTs are used to detonate IEDs along convoy routes. The Duke system blocks the phones from being able to trigger. "When they're on the road, they get hit because the Duke system failed," she said.
Goodman is a part of the team with the 277th Communications and Electronics section which checks the systems before any of the transportation companies of the 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, rolls out on mission. "I test the system with the Universal Test System and it goes through a variety of frequencies, so that the frequencies can be jammed," she said.
The proper care and maintenance of the system is another piece of the puzzle in guaranteeing the all the Soldiers and vehicles make their trips safely. "I like this because I get to know these guys and women," Goodman said, "and when they get back and they're safe, I like knowing I'm a part of it. It gives me sense of fulfillment, knowing that I can take care of these guys."
Goodman volunteered to deploy with the 277th Sust. Maint. Co., and said she relied on the leadership around her to learn her new job. "There are a lot of people in my platoon that are very experienced in this, and they are more than willing to help me out," she said.
Looking back at her Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, a test used to determine eligibility to the armed forces, Goodman noticed she did well in the Electronics Information section, so she joined the C&E section of the 277th.
The Duke system is a stark contrast to her previous job as a medic. However, she quickly came to speed with electronic warfare with multiple training opportunities prior to deploying last year.
"Before we deployed, we did training in Atlanta, Ft. Stewart and Ft. Hood, as well as on the job training," Goodman said. "I did the two week training on C&E with Sgt. Maj. Terry Crowder in Georgia, and I learned so much from him."
With a month left in Afghanistan, Goodman is getting ready to redeploy to Georgia and be reunited with her four children. She's exploring options to continue the career she's learned over the past year. "I might be in a position where I can get a job," Goodman said, "either way I'm going to school to finish my nursing degree."
She's leaving some words of wisdom from her experience on Bagram. "I did what I tried to do and I did it well."