Skip to comments.Sweat and wires to build the new Iraqi Army
Posted on 09/08/2006 4:56:36 PM PDT by SandRat
The Marines of Wire Platoon, Communications Company, 1st Marine Logistics Group, wear enough equipment to make the infantry proud. They leave base every day with heavy machine-guns mounted atop their humvees, on missions to provide the local Military Transition Teams with the tools they need to help train a successful Iraqi Army.
We provided better service for them, quicker service, said Sgt. Ratsamy J. Bouttavong, a wire chief from Sacramento, Calif.
Describing the hardware being put in place for the Iraqi Army and U.S.-led transition teams, Bouttavong explained hard wire or fiber optics offer more reliable, more efficient and more secure paths for communication than radio phones and wireless information exchange.
A lot of the equipment that was being used in the field was for tactical or mobile use only, not for establishing a permanent base of communications, Bouttavong said. The only downside to upgrading is the labor required, especially in an urban environment with no existing communication infrastructure.
Miles of concrete to break through, trenches to dig and wires to bury make for tired, but determined, Marines, Bouttavong said. She credits her troops mental and physical toughness with relatively quick installation processes, compared to the time the work would normally take.
Harkey said the busy pace of the work helps his crew block out the dangers of the civilian areas near which they often operate.
Our gunners take care of us, explained Harkey.
Despite daily attacks from improvised explosive devices and mortars in al-Anbar province, the Wire Platoon of Comms Company say they have to worry more about the intense Iraqi sun than dangers posed by the enemy.
(The biggest challenge is) the sun and the heat, said Lance Cpl. Nicole K. Estrada, a Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. native.
Estrada has more cause for sun-related complaints than most. Every morning, she puts on a thick, protective, full-body gunner suit.
Out of the whole company, I am the first female to go out as a (.50-caliber machine) gunner, said Estrada. Having to be out there for two or three hours at a time in the gun suit is very fatiguing, its all about hydration.
Still, she said, all of the hard work is necessary so that the Iraqi Army possesses a reliable, independent source of communication, able to relay information to units on missions and to the support units responsible for supplies.
Its important so the Iraqis can operate on their own, Estrada explained.
You have to (appreciate Communications) Company ... this couldnt happen without them. Period, end of story, said 1st Lt. Steven A. Ekdahl, the acting communications officer for the 1st Iraqi Army Division MiTT.
Ekdahl, a Frankfurt, Ill. native, emphasized the importance of up-to-date communications for MiTT training capabilities.
The hard labor of the wire platoon has afforded the MiTT and Iraqi Army a reliable communication network, so they can now get what they need to continue their training and continue their aggressive fight against insurgents, said Ekdahl.
You have to have communication in place first, before you can have a government, added Harkey.
The Flagstaff, Az. native knows well the sacrifices he and his fellow Marines make now will be worth it in the end.
We were out there in our flaks and Kevlars the other day for about three hours, digging ... .it needed to be done ... better now than when we have kids, he said. Better we take care of it, before they have to.
Harkey and the other communications Marines agree the hard work sometimes makes the long days seem shorter.
Everything they do, they do together. Every trench dug, every wire spliced, is done as a team. They fight together for every tedious inch, through dirt, sun, and dehydration.
I keep pushing them, said Bouttavong. I know their potential, I know what they can do, and they continue to make me proud every day.
Wire Dogs and Cable Apes build
May God bless 'em and protect 'em. They make us all proud every day.
Your dedication to posting military stories is greatly appreciated.
Makes me smile....
Former Army 36C10/31L10
Go Cable Dogs!
Thank you, though tonight it's been interupted by Boy Scout matters.