New Satellite Terminals to Help Get News, Info Back to the States
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2003 -- Senior coalition leaders in Iraq are
about to increase their ability to keep America informed.
Two state-of-the-art ultracompact satellite terminals - along
with a two-man team to set them up and get them working - are on
their way to Iraq. Starting later this month, the satellites will
beam up-to-the-second news feeds and video footage back to the
Plans include making the feeds available to military news broadcast
outlets, such as the American Forces Radio and Television News
Center and American Forces Network, as well as to commercial television
outlets. The Defense Media Center, located at March Air Reserve
Base, Calif., is providing the equipment and manpower support.
With these terminals, senior U.S. officials will get "the word" back
to the states without delay, no matter where they happen to be
in Iraq, said Allison Barber, special assistant to the acting assistant
secretary of defense for public affairs.
"By virtue of their portability, these terminals will offer our
top people in Iraq broadcast quality video satellite connectivity
in a 'go anywhere' package that breaks down into just three airline
checkable cases," Barber said.
The satellites are an especially important way to get stories
on what units are doing in Iraq back home to U.S.-based units and
families, according to the Army Master Sgt. John Ming, part of
the team bound for Iraq to set up the equipment.
The new military backhaul capability from Iraq is a natural extension
of a broadcasting tradition that goes back over 60 years, said
Larry Sichter, DMC's affiliate relations chief.
"American military broadcasters have been on hand at nearly every
major engagement since 1943," he said. "When the Allies invaded
North Africa it was an Armed Forces Radio newsman who recorded
the opening salvos."
"The DMC will always be bringing the American Forces Network,
with stateside news, sports and entertainment, to wherever American
troops are overseas. Now besides providing that always vital 'touch
of home,' we'll also be able to bring back a look at what our troops
"I think it will really establish us as a news presence in Baghdad," added
Ming. "This gives the military a real chance to show not only that
somebody was injured, but there are all these other things that
are going on to rebuild the country."
Ming said the satellite system takes about 15 minutes to set
up, and with the satellite provider ready to establish the link, ".we
can just show up, acquire the satellite link and start transmitting
from that point."