Communications; You can talk about us, but you can't talk without us

Master Sgt. James Wright (left), from Barksdale AFB, and Senior Airman Joshua Medlin, 21st Space Communications Squadron, constitute the communications shop for the Gardez PRT. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Shamekia Toliver)

Master Sgt. James Wright (left), from Barksdale AFB, and Senior Airman Joshua Medlin, 21st Space Communications Squadron, constitute the communications shop for the Gardez PRT. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Shamekia Toliver)

PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- A familiar saying by Air Force communications troops recently proved to be true - "You can talk about us, but you can't talk without us."

An attack by anti-coalition forces on the AWCC communication towers damaged several towers, leaving them non-operational. The impact to the Gardez Provincial Reconstruction Team was huge.

"We lost all network connectivity and the SIPR network shared-drive server also crashed," said Master Sgt. James Wright, Communications NCOIC. "After 48 hours of unsuccessful troubleshooting we had to try other options."

As the NCOIC of the Gardez PRT communications section, Sergeant Wright and Senior Airman Joshua Medlin, deployed from the 21st Space Communications Squadron, worked full force to restore communications for the unit. They found an alternate solution using a Joint Node Network system that was located at a nearby forward operating base. They coordinated with the PRT Operations Cell to get the JNN system, and then their technical expertise took over.

Having never been trained on the JNN system, the PRT crew worked with the JNN-52 team to set up a satellite dish, two generators, NIPR and SIPR switches, a new call manager for the VOIP phones, and switched all the network cable to the new JNN switches. Their effort restored full operational connectivity to the entire 87-member PRT. In addition, each VOIP phone and personal computer had to be reconfigured in order to operate on the new JNN system. All of this work was finished within four hours of getting the system on the ground.

"This was a complete alternate network infrastructure," Sergeant Wright said. "After it was all set in place, 24 hours later, the AWCC network was restored." This meant that the team was back to work changing everything back to the way it was and reconfigured the JNN system. The outstanding efforts of the Gardez communications team allowed the PRT mission to continue and proved just how valuable this team of Air Force communications members are to successful mission accomplishment.