News: Joint Node Network soldiers keep the force connected
Story by Spc. Andrew Ingram
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq – Throughout history, timely and accurate communication between commanders and soldiers on the front lines meant the difference between victory and defeat.
In the past, the military used couriers and aerial telegraphy to communicate information and orders. In the modern Army, soldiers communicate via secure radios, telephones and computer networks.
Soldiers assigned to the Joint Node Network section, Company C, Division Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, deployed in support of Operation New Dawn, carry on this tradition by keeping the U.S. Division – North command structure connected to subordinate units throughout northern Iraq.
“We are the backbone of both secret and unclassified communications for U.S. Division – North,” said Staff Sgt. Ian Riley, day shift non-commissioned officer in charge, JNN section. “The intent of our job is to keep the command connected to the units on the ground.”
Many communications soldiers traveled to Contingency Operating Base Speicher in the Salah ad Din province ahead of the command staff to ensure the soldiers of DSTB arrived with a solid communications network already in place.
Without communications soldiers, leaders would not have an accurate picture of what is happening in the field, said Riley, who hails from Enumclaw, Wash.
“Our first priority is always to ensure that those lines of communication stay open at all times,” he said.
The JNN soldiers maintain clear communications by operating and maintaining both the satellite, line-of-sight and wired communications equipment, sometimes a daunting task in the harsh conditions of northern Iraq, said Spc. Jordan Edwards, a multi-channel transmissions systems operator assigned to the JNN section.
“The command chain needs to be in the know when it comes to what is happening on the battlefield,” said Edwards, who calls Fredericksburg, Va., home. “They can’t stay informed if we don’t maintain our systems. We’ve had to deal with dust storms, which can put a lot of wear on our satellite systems. There are power outages, and we drilled constantly when we first arrived in country to handle those. All in all, we have become very proficient at keeping our systems running and keeping everyone connected during this deployment.”
Whatever the challenge, JNN soldiers will do whatever it takes to keep the flow of information moving, said Cpl. Holly Hinojosa, signal support systems specialist, JNN section, currently serving on her second deployment as a part of DSTB.
“Things have been a lot more hectic this deployment,” said Hinojosa, a Sebring, Fla., native. “There has been a lot more going on, and we have had a lot less downtime, but we have a good team here and I really feel like we have risen to the occasion.”
In addition to keeping lines of communication open, the JNN section’s leadership puts a high value on improving themselves both as soldiers and as individuals, she added.
Hinojosa said she took advantage of the opportunity to gain experience as a junior leader during her months with the JNN section.
“Being a junior NCO this deployment has been an awesome experience for me,” Hinojosa said. “It is a challenge to figure out what style of leadership works for your soldiers, but it is great to get to know them and learn how to work with them. I am still working on being a strict authoritarian when I need to be, but this deployment has truly been a great learning experience for me.”
Riley credits the soldiers on his team for a successful deployment.
“They have done an outstanding job and have taught me a great deal about this career field,” he said. “We have accomplished a lot together, and I am grateful for such outstanding soldiers.”