Louisiana Guard signal company enhances tower communication on Baghdad base

Story and photos by Spc. Amy L. Barber
256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team public affairs
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq — A Louisiana National Guard unit is making its mark in support of the upcoming responsible drawdown of U.S. troops and equipment from Iraq as they work to enhance tower communication around the perimeter of Victory Base Complex, Iraq.

As part of the Base Defense Operations Center, Soldiers with C Company, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) have begun running a landline that will increase communication time and reduce the manpower needed to operate, update and maintain radios at towers on VBC.

Maj. Henry T. Capello, executive officer with the BSTB and a Baton Rouge, La., native said there are many benefits to installing the landlines.

“The towers are equipped with TA-312s, better known as ‘crank phones,’ and (Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Systems),” he said.  “The phones literally had to be wound to make a phone call, which can be time-consuming during an emergency.  The problem with the radios was that they were sometimes affected by ‘jammers’ around entry control points.”

Capello said that the jammers are set up to scramble radio signals outside the installation so that adversaries are unable to remotely detonate explosive devices, but have also been known to affect the radio signal on towers near the outer perimeter of  VBC.

“With the landlines that we are installing, as soon as they pick up the phone, it will automatically call the BDOC’s operations center, where they can take the appropriate action immediately,” said 1st Lt. Obie E. Ward, officer-in-charge of the project, and a Pineville, La., native.

He continued by explaining that some of the towers are on the main routes in Baghdad, and that they needed a way to report incidents quickly.

With a mission of ensuring the security within the base, Capello said this was a priority for the BDOC.

“This is a project that has been discussed for several years now, but just hasn’t been done yet,” he said. “When we got here, we knew we had to do something, and found a way to do it. We gave our signal company the mission and they jumped on it.”

“We are setting the installation up for our absence,” Capello said. “We are making communication more practical for the Iraqis as we hand their country back to them.”

Ward said though the project is a big one, the Lafayette, La., signal company’s goal is to be done with their part of mission by July, and noted that dueto the hard work of the Soldiers in the company, they are ahead of schedule.

“We didn’t think it would go as quickly as it has,” Ward said. “It is hot and there is a lot of manual work involved, but these guys are on it.”

“I am very proud of my Soldiers,” said Capt. Harold D. Roberson Jr., commander of C Co. and a Baton Rouge, La., native. “They have a ‘can do’ attitude and really understand the significant impact we have on Iraq’s future stability.”  

“As the drawdown gets closer, we are doing everything we can to ensure that the Iraqis are successful in maintaining their security force,” he said.

The Brigade Special Troops Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Stuart N. Burruss, of Carville, La., arrived at the Baghdad installation in March, and assumed the responsibility as the BDOC in April. The unit is expected to return home toward the end of the year.

 

news photo
Spc. Blaine M. Marusak, a satellite communications systems operator with C Company, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a St. Martinville, La., native, pulls a phone line through a tower May 21 at the Victory Base Complex, Iraq. The company is improving communications systems in the towers as part of the upcoming responsible drawdown of U.S. troops and equipment from Iraq. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Tresa L. Allemang)

news photo
Spc. Blaine M. Marusak, a satellite communications systems operator with C Company, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a St. Martinville, La., native, prepares a phone line in an observation tower at Victory Base Complex, Iraq. The company is improving communications systems in the towers as part of the upcoming responsible drawdown of U.S. troops and equipment from Iraq. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Tresa L. Allemang)

news photo
Spc. Dusty J. Louviere, a cable systems installer with C Company, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 256th Infantry Brigade Combat pulls cable alongside a perimeter wall June 1 at Victory Base Complex, Iraq. The company is improving communications systems in the towers as part of the upcoming responsible drawdown of U.S. troops and equipment from Iraq. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Tresa L. Allemang)