A Soldiers Blog

Search Site search web

Thursday, October 28, 2004

The State | 10/27/2004 | Soldier helping Iraqis connect

Posted on Wed, Oct. 27, 2004

Soldier helping Iraqis connect

Major from Columbia assists in finding places to build cellular towers


Staff Writer

More Iraqis are going wireless thanks to people like Columbia resident Shane Ousey.

Maj. Ousey, a 40-year-old Army signal officer, works with an Iraqi cell phone company to find locations to build cellular towers in Baghdad.

“There are a lot of key places where they want to put towers that are under American control,” said Ousey, who is assigned to the multinational forces communications control center at Camp Victory Base, near Baghdad.

It behooves the military to help because cell phones are the most convenient way for U.S. commanders to contact Iraqi contractors.

“The military does a lot of business with local contractors,” who do their business over cell phones, Ousey said in a recent telephone interview with The State.

Additionally, the military can suggest tower locations to improve service, he said.

The cell phone business has surged in Iraq, going from only a handful of users in April 2003, after Saddam Hussein was toppled, to more than 500,000 customers today. By comparison, traditional land-line phone systems have about 50,000 Iraqi users.

Unlike the United States, where there are a number of cell phone providers, Iraq has just three cellular companies. Each is granted a monopoly in its area of operation.

Cell phone providers do not sell contracts for services to customers like they do in the United States. Instead, they sell prepaid-service cards, which are popular in Europe.

A Colorado native, Ousey enlisted as a combat engineer in the Army in 1990, went through ROTC and became a signal battalion officer. Before his Baghdad assignment, he was at Fort Jackson, where he was executive officer of a training battalion.

When his deployment ends next spring, Ousey plans to return to Columbia and begin a 3-year assignment as a professor of military science at the University of South Carolina.

Once he is finished at USC, he will be eligible to retire.

After more than 20 years of moving around the country and being deployed to Bosnia, Korea, Africa and Iraq, Ousey said he and his family might settle down in the Palmetto State.

“My wife really likes it,” Ousey said, adding that, in any event, his family will be in Columbia long enough for 15-year-old Trevor to graduate from Ridge View High School. Trevor plays clarinet in the Blazer band.

“I would be very content to park it right here, root in and call Columbia home,” said Ousey’s wife, Cindy, a third-grade teacher at Forest Lake Elementary School.

“Columbia has been very kind to us. I have been blessed to make many friends here, and I honestly feel that I have an excellent support network between other band moms, teachers, our church and neighbors.”

But making that decision to retire and stay in Columbia will be tough, she said. “I can barely imagine Shane as anything but a soldier.”

The Ouseys stay in touch mostly by e-mail and occasional phone calls.

Being a teacher’s spouse, Ousey also sometimes contributes to his wife’s lesson plans — even from Iraq.

His offerings for third-graders are not about war, though. They are pictures of creepy creatures that crawl and slither across the Iraqi sands.

One hit with the class, Cindy Ousey said, was a picture of a snake, minus its head, being devoured by wasps. Another favorite — a photo of two huge camel spiders that were found in a soldier’s sleeping bag.

“My third-graders love those kinds of pictures,” Cindy Ousey said. “Of course, he has sent other more traditional photos of palaces, etc., but nothing turns on third-graders like gross stuff.”

Reach Crumbo at (803) 771-8503 or ccrumbo@thestate.com.

The State | 10/27/2004 | Soldier helping Iraqis connect

Prev | List | Random | Next
Powered by RingSurf!