Vital Step In Re-Establishing Air Link To Iraq
Warfighters had a big problem as coalition combat forces pushed
through Iraqi defenders: their tactical communications systems were
not enough for the job at hand, but a better, more permanent
solution wasn't yet available anywhere near the front.
Air Force engineering installation teams stepped up to the
challenge with a breakthrough way to quickly assess and project
what was needed at captured enemy bases to bring them on line, this
time fighting against Saddam's regime.
Testing The Concept
Recently captured Tallil Air Base, near An Nasiriyah in the
southern Iraqi desert, was the test case for this new
approach. Instead of a whole EI team, combat communicators
deployed only a team leader, one active duty engineer and an Air
National Guard engineer with installation experience. The unique
active-Guard team mix brought to bear the extensive practical
experience so often found in Guard units and was a constant force
multiplier throughout the deployment.
EI warriors now serving throughout Southwest Asia
have a proud history and tradition. They're a small but
productive military organization that epitomizes total force.
Active duty and Air National Guard units work side by side to
engineer, install, and document permanent communications equipment,
fiber optics, telephone cable, radios, computers, and navigation
The Tallil team got the first taste of the job ahead when they
inspected the base, saw how the "previous management" built it and
then had to decide whether the current communications system could
be used in some way. The close look also allowed the team to
determine the right number and mix of engineers, installers,
material, and vehicles needed at the base.
What A Mess
The team found that many manholes were damaged, most buildings
had no communications hook-ups and the air traffic control tower's
cables were ripped out of the walls and piled on the ground.
Empty concrete pads showed where antenna towers once stood.
The team first determined that the manhole and
duct system could be used to run communications cable despite the
damage. They also salvaged several Iraqi air force antenna
towers and worked out the proper control tower configuration with
Tallil's airfield manager. The team made sure Air Force and
Army units at Tallil were careful to preserve whatever
communications equipment still existed. Their efforts helped
ensure that the base will get what it needs to lift it to Air Force
"We made a lot of progress in just a few days," said Lt. Col.
Mark Adams, the EI team leader. "Our teams saved money and
time by identifying what was useable, coordinating support before
larger teams arrived and also got the right (mix) of EI troops,
material, and equipment started here much earlier. EI truly has an
early role to play in the reconstitution of a bare or damaged
base," he said.
ANN extends a special thanks to Maj. Jon Anderson, Combined
Forces Air Component, Commander Public Affairs