|Joint Communications Unit Links Task Force To The World |
Joint Communications Unit Links Task Force To The World
By Tech. Sgt. Chuck Roberts, Joint Task Force Response Public Affairs, 23 March 2000.
Beira, Mozambique (AFPN) -- The ability to communicate with anyone, anywhere, from a remote location -- that's what the Special Operations Communications Element here is offering the Joint Special Operations Task Force during Operation Atlas Response.
Collocated with the JSOTF headquarters at the airport in Beira, the 18-person communications element -- consisting of airmen from the 352nd Special Operations Support Squadron, RAF Mildenhall, England, along with airmen and soldiers from the Special Operations Command Europe in Stuttgart, Germany -- is making the critical communications capability happen using state of the art technology.
That technology consists of the U.S. Special Operations Command's Joint Base Station Variant (II) Radio system, and a new addition, the Air Force's new Theater Deployable Communications system.
"With the addition of TDC to our capabilities, we've now become a full-fledged self-contained communications entity, able to provide communications as if the members were sitting at their office desk back home," said Maj. Cephas Franklin, the JSOTF director of communications.
Deployment of the TDC to Africa has its small place in history.
TDC made its first operational deployment during Operation Allied Force when it was used in an auxiliary role to extend communication assets in San Vito, Italy.
"However, it's the first time that a theater deployable communications system has been used as the backbone of communications on the forward edge of a U.S. humanitarian operation supporting a Joint Special Operations Task Force," said Franklin.
Specifically, the Joint Base Station is providing a radio capability that allows ground personnel to maintain contact with aircrews, while TDC provides telephone communications and the means for sending secure and non-secure data.
International maritime satellite telephones also allow for immediate communications "the minute we hit the ground anywhere in the world," Franklin said.
In addition to the personnel in Beira, the communications element also has people supporting the Joint Special Operations air component commander and the Special Operations liaison element at Air Force Base Hoedspruit, South Africa. In Maputo, Mozambique, Senior Airman Scott Heflin is tasked with providing high frequency and tactical satellite communications for JTF Atlas Response commander Maj. Gen. Joe Wehrle.
The deployment hasn't been without the usual challenges, Franklin said, "but overcoming challenges, such as the electrical effects of a recent thunderstorm adds to the existing expertise of our technicians. When some of our communication assets were lost as a result of the storm, Senior Airman Leonard Stout did a 'yeoman's job' of maintaining satellite communications capability.
"This has been a great test of our operations concept of supporting the mission," Franklin said, "a good chance to wring out procedures. There has been no problem that we haven't been able to overcome."
"We are providing assistance to people who really need help," Franklin said. "That's why we're working so hard to ensure reliable and capable communications support for mission requirements." (Courtesy of U.S. Air Forces in Europe News Service)
** RAF Mildenhall
** Operation Atlas Response