599th communications capability becomes more versatile

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By Donna Klapakis
599th Transportation Brigade Public Affairs

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii — The 599th Transportation Brigade at Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii, in January became much more versatile in the ways it communicates when it received the Brigade Standard Communications Package from its higher headquarters, Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command.

Formerly, when the brigade needed to support service members in a third-world country or other environment that did not have the necessary communications capability, it would request a complete Deployable Port Operations Center.

“The DPOC has been downsized,” said Information Management Team Leader Valerie Van Vleet. “It used to provide for shelter and power. Now we have the BSCP, which is comprised of a package with the equipment we need to communicate in semi-remote locations that have their own shelter and power. We wouldn’t request a DPOC now unless we had to deploy in support of a real contingency in a remote environment.

“This is a much smaller package, and the purpose is for us to deploy,” Van Vleet added. “The great thing about the BSCP is that it is capable of deploying quickly to anywhere in the Pacific theater.  A DPOC would normally take much longer by sea to get to anywhere in our area.”

The communications team in the information management section updates part of the system daily.

“We are required to maintain our unclassified systems via the Dock and Lock shelving unit,” said Van Vleet. “Continuity is maintained because they remain connected to the Multi-Media Communications System network. They are always ready.”

The team must also complete a monthly checklist after completing the testing for the entire system once a month.

“Assembling and updating the package for the monthly checks was difficult at first, but now it’s easy,” said information technology specialist Nefftaly Lugardo. “We had to adjust power to compensate for differences between Hawaii and the mainland.”

Lugardo said the team sets aside part of a week each month to work with the system.

“You need at least three people to set up the big antenna and two people for the small,” Lugardo said. “The number of hours it takes depends on the amount of trouble-shooting we have to do that month.”

Although the package is much smaller than a DPOC, it is still quite heavy with all of the components, Lugardo said.

The communications team is waiting for the right opportunity to deploy with the system, which can be used throughout the U.S. Pacific Command area of operations.

“The BSCP enhances our ability to go out into austere conditions and still do our job while maintaining good communications,” Lugardo said.