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Army June 21, 2012
Cpl Mark Doran
FORCE Communications Unit 6 (FCU
6) has returned from the Middle East
Area of Operations after providing
high-level satellite communication and
information services for Australian
forces since December last year.
The 32 1 Sig Regt soldiers were
spread throughout the MEAO operating
around the clock to maintain the DRN,
DSN and the International Security
Assistance Force (ISAF) Centrix net-
With the main body concentrated at
Multinational Base Tarin Kot, FCU 6 also
supported the forward operating bases
across Uruzgan and had the ability to
push forward to support mobile mentor-
It also provided satellite phones for
soldiers to call home.
FCU 6 troop commander Lt Simon
Watch said the unit's primary focus was
to maintain the network.
"The network needs to be flexible and
adaptable to the changing requirements of
the different units working in Tarin Kot
and Uruzgan," Lt Watch said.
"Our tasks included hardware instal-
lation and running cable, which took a lot
of time and was more physical than most
people would appreciate.
"There were also the day-to-day tasks
such as the non-technical inspections on
the more than 1000 laptops we have in
Information systems technician Sig
Sharon Fields was responsible for the
servers and the user side of the communi-
Having deployed to East Timor in
2007-2008, Sig Fields said it was quite
daunting when she first arrived in Tarin
"Seeing the size of this base and how
many people we would have to adminis-
ter was a bit of a shock," she said.
"What stood out the most was work-
ing with other members of my detach-
ment and being able to teach them what I
had learnt previously.
"We worked long hours and it was a
demanding job, which could be frustrat-
ing at times.
"Some people are not as computer
savvy as us, but we just helped out where
"The easier tasks were enjoyable
because you could close off the job
straight away and the harder jobs were
enjoyable because they were a challenge."
Married to LCpl William Fields from
1 Sig Regt, Sig Fields has a three-year-
old son, Eli, and said she had missed her
"We managed to speak by telephone
every few days though I mainly called
William to find out how Eli was going to
make sure he was not driving him crazy,"
"I was looking forward to hugging my
son and reconnecting with him."
Telecommunications systems techni-
cian Sig Dale White maintained the wide
area network infrastructure to enable
communication between the strategic and
Sigs finish high-wire act
Maintaining networks in the MEAO is an ongoing challenge for Force Communications Unit personnel
After six months in Afghanistan,
Sig White said it was fantastic to
be able to play an active part in the
design and implementation of the
network architecture and work with
units which required unique commu-
"To be able to implement all the
skills you have been taught gives
you a sense of accomplishment," he
"There had been a lot of devel-
opment of the infrastructure while
we were there, which meant there
was a lot more laying of cable than
"The deployment has given me a
greater exposure to a lot of different
coalition equipment we don't nor-
"I missed my wife, Sarah, and
my son, Jake, who is 16 months old.
He has started to walk since I have
On the line: Cpl Richard Archer, of FCU 6, reclaims communications cable at the Multinational Base Tarin
Kot in Afghanistan.
Photo by Cpl Mark Doran
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