A Soldiers Blog

Search Site search web

Friday, November 21, 2003

Iraq War News

Cyber cafes bringing Iraq closer to home

SPAWAR-developed systems give soldiers an instant link to loved ones

Of The Post and Courier Staff
HANAHAN--In the old days, roughly two months ago in an ever-changing Iraq, American GIs had to be assigned to or stationed near a headquarters unit to have any practical chance of getting an e-mail through to the folks back home.

Field Engineer Frederick Bellamy sets up laptops Wednesday in a cyber cafe similar to those being sent to troops in Iraq.

But as a series of portable, wireless "cyber cafes" goes up across Iraq, the days of the old snail-mail military are drawing rapidly to a close.

These modern communications stations feature Internet e-mail access and satellite telephones and were developed as a morale support tool through a crash program at the high-tech Space and Naval Warfare Systems center at the Charleston Naval Weapons Station. Pentagon plans call for 145 of the stations to serve U.S. forces deployed to Iraq.

Each cafe boasts 20 laptop computers and eight satellite phones that provide instant, low-cost, global communications.

More than 40 of the cafes already have been set up in Iraq, military and SPAWAR spokesmen say, and they have been an instant hit.

"We've lost track of how many (military members) told us they hadn't talked with their wives or parents in months," said Ken Crawley of Summerville, a lead engineer with the SPAWAR project in Iraq.

Crawley, together with SPAWAR's Steve Nielsen of Goose Creek and Jim Watson of Pensaco-la, Fla., spoke Wednesday by satellite phone from Anaconda base, about 40 miles north of Baghdad. As they spoke, Brad Hoisington of Goose Creek, a SPAWAR logistics manager, demonstrated a model of the cyber cafe installed inside a 32-foot by 20-foot tent at the weapons station.

Crawley, Nielsen and Watson have been setting up the cafes since last month.

The cyber cafe nickname is misleading -- there's no espresso being served here.

Instead, GIs will see a simple, functional layout. Twenty laptops sit on a row of tables down the center of an air-conditioned tent.
Iraq War News

Prev | List | Random | Next
Powered by RingSurf!