Space Soldiers assist 25th ID in the field

| December 18, 2012 | 0 Comments
Spc. Jimmy Kratt (right),  Co. D, 53rd Sig. Bn., 1st Space Bde., looks over the shoulder of Staff Sgt. Zachary McElroy, Co. C, 3rd STB, 3rd BCT, 25th ID, as he provides insight into the operation of a TACSAT. (Photo courtesy 53rd Signal Space Soldiers.)

Spc. Jimmy Kratt (right), Co. D, 53rd Sig. Bn., 1st Space Bde., looks over the shoulder of Staff Sgt. Zachary McElroy, Co. C, 3rd STB, 3rd BCT, 25th ID, as he provides insight into the operation of a TACSAT. (Photo courtesy 53rd Signal Space Soldiers.)

Staff Sgt. Salvador Cota
Wideband Satellite Communications Center

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Satellite controllers of Company D, 53rd Signal Battalion, 1st Space Brigade, came down to earth to share a hands-on learning experience of the challenges facing ground-based warriors during exercise Warfighter X, here, Nov. 29.

Space, the final military communications frontier, is the domain of the Wideband Satellite Operations Center, or WSOC, but after receiving one particular report from 1st Platoon, Co. C, 3rd Special Troops Bn., 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, warriors on the ground, five Americans and one Australian boldly went where few WSOC controllers had gone before.

“Controllers are like traffic cops, but for outer space,” explained Capt. Becky Bort, commander, WSOC. “They make sure that all customers maintain authorized data rates and power levels across the satellite, so they do not interfere with other customers and missions.”

Controllers are constantly communicating with their users to ensure the users are communicating over the satellite within proper parameters. However, rarely do the two sides ever interact face-to-face, said Bort.

“When TACSAT called in their report, we realized that they were only 15 minutes down the road,” said Bort.

The international WSOC team decided to make a close encounter.

The purpose of the visit was twofold. The controllers met their earthbound brethren in the field to personally gain insights into the operation of a Tactical Satellite Communications, or TACSAT site, and the difficulties they face, and to help TACSAT better understand satellite communications from the controller’s mission.

First, the space Soldiers used the valuable opportunity to witness the operation of new equipment and the different levels of training experienced in the field.

TACSAT operators call the WSOC with various requests, such as satellite access and assistance with troubleshooting. Visiting the field site gave some members of Co. D — who had little or no exposure to the ground equipment other than a technical manual — an opportunity to view how it’s configured and operated.

Of particular interest was the configuration of the Time Division Multiple Access network shared amongst the terminals and how they access the satellite.

Prior to visiting the field, it was unclear to the junior satellite controllers how this was actually accomplished; before that, their only source of information was attempting to interpret the Satellite Access Authorizations, or SAA, known as “cut-sheets.”

Second, it gave WSOC Soldiers the chance to share their insights into the broader operation of the satellite network communications. This helped the TACSAT Soldiers to better understand how their field site can affect other users and the satellite.

“I knew what needed to be reported, just not how to efficiently do so,” said Pfc. Sean Harding, 1st Plt., Co. C, 3rd STB. “I do now.”

Satellite controllers passed on pointers to ensure Warfighter X and future operations go smoother, like common terminology and how to correctly interpret the SAA.

“This visit provided our Soldiers with the tools they need to be more effective when communicating with the WSOC,” said 2nd Lt. Anthony Orlowski, leader, 1st Plt., Co. C, 3rd STB.

The impromptu cross-training session ended with an invitation for TACSAT to visit the WSOC.

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