With the focus primarily on combat forces, the Office of Security Cooperation-Afghanistan gradually had been building up the support sector of the Afghan National Army, including both logistics and communications. Since the Afghan Army was instated, there had been some shortfalls in communications – one, procurement of the necessary communications equipment, two, allowing soldiers from separate units and regional command and control headquarters to communicate. OSC-A and its CJ6 (Communications Division) had been looking into ways to eradicate these shortfalls.
Communication among soldiers and regional command and control headquarters had been difficult as the Army did not have the communications equipment necessary to allow for interoperability. Various ANA units use UHF or VHF radios while others use standard cell phones or landline phones. These disparate systems could not communicate with one another. If an ANA soldier was trying to communicate with another soldier or their regional command office and they were using different communications devices, the message had to be relayed, necessitating more time than desired to communicate a message. The Afghan National Army needed a solution that would decrease the time necessary to communicate and to create interoperability among all parties for both successful and timely operations.
OSC-A decided to purchase several ACU-T Tactical Interconnect Systems from to solve the ANA’s interoperability needs. The ACU-T is a modular, 8-pound portable unit that provides six interconnect modules for simplified communications management. This device was ideal for the ANA since it is a small, rugged unit suitable for tactical or vehicular use, and rapid deployment. The ACU-T also met the needs of the Afghan National Army in that it can be customized to include any combination of radio and phone modules and is ideal for remote operation.
“The decision to purchase an ACU-T was simple for us. It provided the ability of linking our different radios to one another with different wave forms on the same nets and allowed for our radio users to connect with our telephone users,” stated LTC Jose Rodriguez, Chief of Communications for OSC-A.
The ACU-T has eliminated the need for message relaying, significantly decreasing the amount of time needed for a message properly to be communicated to the intended recipient. Now, soldiers or Army offices can communicate in a timely and efficient manner. The operator of the ACU-T, typically at a regional command center, simply connects the two disparate communications systems together using a computer interface on the ACU-T device. The two users instantly are able to communicate.
“The ACU-T device was rather straightforward to operate during mission critical environments, which was extremely important in the purchasing decision, and it was reasonably priced,” Rodriguez adds.
Once the units were properly installed, a team of ANA and U.S. military members trained the Army personnel assigned to the radio offices to operate the unit. OSC-A initially purchased thirteen ACU-T’s and was assessing how many more would be needed for future interoperability among military and police sectors. Two initial installations were complete, one at the National Military Command Center in Kabul and the other at the 201st Corps Regional Command Center in Pol-e-Charkhi.
“The ACU-T has proven to be a valuable tool in command and control efforts for the ANA. Its ease of operation and ability to be rapidly deployed has aided in their efforts to achieve successful and timely communications,” stated Lee Martin, Director, DOD / Federal Sales, JPS Interoperability Solutions, Inc.