By Christopher DunneSeptember 27, 2011
The December 31st deadline for the drawdown of American military personnel from Iraq has led to a surge in activities for 160th Signal Brigade Soldiers. The need for new Tactical Operations Centers (TOCs) for U.S. Forces-Iraq (USF-I) personnel redeploying to Camp Buehring, Kuwait has Signal Soldiers working to provide stable and secure communications platforms.
The Signaleers are setting up Non-Secure Internet Protocol Router (NIPR), Secure Internet Protocol Router (SIPR) and Defense Switched Networks (DSNs), giving customers a full range of telephone and internet communication services.
"The mission we've been tasked with is to provide NIPR, SIPR and DSN capability to Tactical Operations Centers in support of USF-I," said 581st Signal Company project officer 2nd Lt. Adam Wheeler. "USF-I will be utilizing these TOCs in order to continue their mission while withdrawing from Iraq."
The 581st is installing communications service to as many as four TOCs a week, but needs to complete 40 TOCs in a five month period to accommodate personnel coming from Iraq. "Soldiers have installed more than 600 SIPR ports, 600 NIPR ports and 150 DSN ports so far," Wheeler said. "They've also run over 15,000 feet of fiber optic cable and 15,000 feet of copper cable."
It's a big job, and Signal Soldiers from across the region have volunteered to help. "We have Soldiers from 25th Signal Battalion, 820th Signal Company, 1st TSC, ARCENT G6 and 108th ADA," said Staff Sgt. Quintrell Becton, project noncommissioned officer in charge.
"We have Soldiers from different units, and all different MOSs in the Signal world-- we have 25Ls (Cable Systems Installer-Maintainers), 25Us (Signal Support Systems Specialists), 25Bs (Information Technology Specialists); I even have one noncommissioned officer that is a cook. They've all been cross-trained, all been brought up to speed very quickly for the mission at hand."
Army Reserve Sgt. Leterrence Johnson is a Food Service Specialist with the 820th Signal Company, but he doesn't have a Food Service mission in Kuwait. He said the Signal tasks he's learned while deployed go hand-in-hand with being a Computer Science major in his civilian life.
"My Soldiers have pretty much taught me how to do everything in order to build a complete TOC from the ground up, as far as putting up conduit, panduit, running the actual lines," Johnson said. "I can go wherever the work is needed."
Preparing for incoming USF-I personnel isn't the only mission keeping the 581st Signal Company busy. With the growth of Camp Buehring, a number of facilities need to upgrade their communications capabilities. "My platoon has also been tasked with upgrading all the comms in the MWR facilities on post," Wheeler said. "We're doing a new install for the Warrior Leader Course and the new Pass and ID facility outside the gate, among many other installs that are in support of Operation New Dawn."