News: Network support operations work on ANSF network
By Army Capt. Monika Comeaux
DCOM-SPO/NTM-A Public Affairs Officer
CAMP EGGERS, Afghanistan – Engineers who participated in the building of the Suez Canal likely look at the artificial waterway and think: I contributed to something long-lasting, and I, in a small way, influenced history.
Coalition forces working in Afghanistan may feel the same way about their projects. One of these projects is building the Afghan National Security Forces’ network infrastructure.
The one and only team in charge of this important development in the entire country of Afghanistan works under NATO Training Mission Afghanistan’s Deputy Command of Support Operations. They refer to themselves at Network Support Operations or NET SPT OPS for short.
“We plan and execute installation projects at key Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police facilities to provide access to the Ministry of Defense or Ministry of Interior networks,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Craig N. Berg, the officer in charge of NET SPT OPS.
“This includes installing all of the on-site wiring within and between the buildings, as well as the long-haul connectivity back to Kabul. This can be as few as one building for ten personnel, and as many as 2,300 personnel in the case of the Afghan National Defense University,” added Berg. All of the work is done by Afghan companies under individual contracts his section manages, he said.
Within NET SPT OPS there are actually three focus areas: logistics automation, network expansion and network support. Logistics automation for example focuses in enabling the Afghan partners to conduct automated inventory management.
“Logistics automation section manages and develops the STAMIS [Standard Army Management Information Systems] software and provides functional oversight and training for CORE IMSEE [a shipping, receiving and inventory management system], and Afghanistan Property Accountability System [APAS],” said Air Force Master Sgt. William C. Hebb, the noncommissioned officer in charge of logistics automation.
The NET SPT OPS team consists of 27 people in management positions. The actual work on the ground is done by Afghan companies under individual contracts, Berg said.
“Our mission is to develop simple, survivable and sustainable networks in order to advance the command and control capabilities of the Afghan National Police [ANP] and Afghan National Army [ANA] by completing installation projects at all of the ANA and ANP priority locations,” said Berg.
These locations are the corps and brigade headquarters for the ANA, which encompasses a total of 28 sites. NET SPT OPS also works on installation projects at the regional HQ's, provincial HQ's, Operational Coordination Center - Regional and OCC-P's for the ANP, which means an additional 79 sites, Berg explained.
His crew is a mix of U.S. military, coalition forces and civilians. Everybody brings something different to the table and for some, it is a new territory.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Eszra Tanner from Hurlburt Field Air Force Base, Fla., has always worked on actual computer systems during his career. Today he manages network development contracts for the Afghan National Security Forces in the capital and eastern regions of the country.
“I have never done it before; something new to learn,” Tanner said. “I never dealt with contracts, or money or bidding for contracts, like we do it here.”
He now has new tools to put in his toolbox and thinks that his experiences in Afghanistan will help him better understand the bigger picture even back at home, he said.
“Every day I learn something new professionally and also in the matter of the English language,” said Albanian army Capt. Klodian Goirica, one of the officers dealing with logistics accountability within NET SPT OPS. Albania is a small country and a new member of NATO. Goirica is very grateful for the opportunity of being able to work in this mission and having the chance to take these experiences home with him. The most important lesson he learned from his colleagues was “that there is always a solution for any problem,” Goirica said.
NET SPT OPS encounters many challenges from the field. Some locations in the South only have Wi-Fi connectivity, which tends to be much slower then fiber optics, said Tanner.
Berg said there are no real challenges from a technical perspective, however there are other unique challenges.
“We have to be very creative with getting materials, personnel and tools to the site where the work needs to be performed. The folks here in Kabul, as well as the folks in the Regional Support Commands who work the projects at their level, have to work very hard to ensure security is thought about when they are completing their missions as well as helping the contractor get to where they need to be,” he said.
Just recently, NET SPT OPS finished the installation of network infrastructure for the Afghan Ministry of Defense’s Ground Forces Command and Joint Operations command in Kabul, said Tanner.
The goal is to have a solid network in place for the ANSF by the end of 2014.
Gorica thinks that their efforts “will contribute to a professional army and to a safe and secure country which will open the road to prosper[ity] and a great future for the Afghan People."
NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan is headquartered at Camp Eggers in Kabul and is composed of a coalition of 38 troop-contributing nations charged with assisting the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in generating a capable and sustainable Afghan National Security Force ready to take lead of their country's security by 2014.
For more information about NTM-A, visit www.ntm-a.com.
Date Posted:08.13.2012 06:05
Location:CAMP EGGERS, AF
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