New Mexico National Guard clears up communications on Vieques
U.S. Army - Wednesday 6th December, 2017
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Soldiers from New Mexico National Guard set up a VSAT, a very small aperture terminal satellite, in Vieques, Puerto Rico to give other Guardsmen stationed there a better communication link between them and Joint Task Force Puerto Rico headquarters in San Juan on Dec. 1, 2017.
Vieques is an island nearly 20 miles off the coast of mainland Puerto Rico that was devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Currently, Puerto Rico National Guardsmen are on the island to provide security at pieces of critical infrastructure including the local school, hospital and fresh water pumping station.
Prior to the satellite link, the Guardsmen were limited to cell phone and radio communications.
'Our mission is to establish a VSAT link, said 2nd Lt. Joseph Andahl, platoon leader 3631st Signal Company, New Mexico National Guard. 'This will allow them to get email, get data, access the internal net and allow for voice over Internet protocol capabilities so that they can operate.'
During disaster recovery operations, effective communication is necessary to coordinate military and civilian assets.
The civilian network that the Soldiers on Vieques were relying on constantly crashed and had glitches, said Staff Sgt. Ariel Cruz, a noncommissioned officer with the 125th Military Police Battalion, Puerto Rico National Guard.
'The satellite is going to help us keep and maintain better communication,' said Cruz.
The VSAT satellite and security operations on Vieques are part of the Army's continuous efforts to assist Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the island territory.
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