Army Reserve Soldiers assigned to the 356th BOD at Fort Meade, Md., have the mission of operating an American Forces Network radio and television station in a theater of war.

Broadcasters and technicians in the unit ran AFN-Iraq from July 2006 to July 2007. They produced the daily television newscast "Freedom Journal Iraq" from studios in Baghdad. Combat correspondents covered stories from Mosul in the north to conflicts in the western desert of Al Anbar to the city of Basra in the south.

Unit DJs aired 12-16 hours of live radio daily -- producing country, rock, urban and contemporary shows along with seven daily newscasts. Radio broadcasters interviewed senior leaders live in the studio, along with visiting stars such as Toby Keith.

Broadcast engineers rewired the press center for Multi-National Force-Iraq to better air live press conferences with Gen. David Patraeus and Maj. Gen. William Caldwell. Unit technicians manned the cameras, control booth and satellite transmission facility to air press conferences live on the Pentagon Channel.

Engineers facilitated senior-leader interiews on CNN, Fox, Al Arabia and other networks by transmitting from satellite dishes both at AFN and the U.S. Embassy studio in Baghdad. Unit engineers also designed a "fly-away" equipment kit used to conduct press conferences at Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) and Provinical Iraqi Control (PIC) ceremonies. The technicians also assisted with many off-site press confences for the Government of Iraq and Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki.

Unit broadcasters had the opportunity to record "America Supports You" interviews with visiting dignitaries such as Sen. John McCain, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and dozens of congressmen.

New broadcasters attend a 14-week course in radio and television production at the Defense Information School (DINFOS) at Fort Meade.

Broadcast engineers attend a seven-month course at DINFOS and learn how to wire studios, repair broadcast equipment and operate satellite transmission equipment -- skills in high demand at commercial broadcast networks.

Scheduled training for the 356th Broadcast Operations Detachment includes a three-week exercise next year at AFN-Europe in Germany.

For more information, contact the 356th BOD at the new U.S. Army Reserve Center along the Baltimore-Annapolis Road (Route 175), just outside Fort Meade, or call (301) 833-6534.

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