April 09, 2010

Name: Charlie Sherpa
Posting date: 4/9/10
Deploying to: Afghanistan
Hometown: Boone, Iowa
Milblog: Red Bull Rising
Email: Sherpa at RedBullRising.com

Framed Sherpa PIMP MY 1 It might not look like much to you, but this picture of my unit's latest equipment makes this old Army communications soldier get all misty and tingly. Maybe I'm just not grounded properly. More likely, however, it's just feelings of good old nostalgia setting in. After all, the names and equipment may have changed from 20 years ago, but a van-based commo van on the back of a two-seater Humvee is pretty much the spitting image of my first tactical ride.

So this picture makes me happy. To me, it's the Army version of a 1970-something conversion van featuring a purple shag-carpet on all interior surfaces -- including the dashboard -- with a scene airbrushed on its exterior involving an armored-yet-bikini-wearing young lass and a dragon. Or, better yet, a robot. Or, even better, a robot dragon. The overall artistic impression of this adolescent piece of work being akin to the worldly pin-up girl on the nose of Grandpa's bomber in World War II. Yes, I said that all in one breath.

Oh, and that van would have a name -- something like "Cap'n America," or "Mister E Machine," or "Thor's Hammock."

This new equipment is called a "Command Post Platform," or CPP. There are four of them that "boot in" (connect to) our brigade's Tactical Operations Center (TOC, pronounced "talk). (By the way, if I haven't mentioned it before, our brigade radio callsign is "Ryder" -- a reference to Maj. Gen. Charles W. Ryder, which explains the title of this post.) It's chockfull of radios and computer routers and other communications equipment, evidenced by the many antennas bristling on top of its Rigid Wall Shelter (RWS).

When I first joined the Iowa Army National Guard, we had a whole battalion of similar Humvee-shelter combinations. Radio and telephone operators used to sit in the little air-conditioned "vans" -- the cool air was for the maintenance of equipment, not the comfort of the soldiers, but it was still one of the best jobs in the Army.

These CPPs are pretty much set-up-and-forget. They don't require a soldier to sit inside them to act as an operator, in the old telephone-switchboard sense of the word. Users throughout the TOC can use radios, text-message, and communicate via the intercoms provided by the CPP, using desktop devices called Crew Access Units (CAU, pronounced -- I am not making this up -- "cows"). The CAU headphones are noise-canceling, and you can actually set them up to monitor a different radio conversation in each ear. I'm in multi-tasking TOC-rat heaven.

That's why, although it's not exactly my baby anymore, this picture makes me happy. All it needs is a little up-armor. And some fuzzy dice. And some nose art.

"If the commo van's a rockin', don't come a'knockin'."


Yay!! Charlie Sherpa has been "discovered". :)

Go read his archives and then do yourself a favor of following his blog. I'm betting that we will be reading some interesting posts once he arrives 'boots on ground'.

Stay tuned...

Oh my...reminds of my old built-up Gamma Goat...on steroids.

With shag carpet on the dash, it's gotta be named "Sherpa's Love Shack" :p

In 68 our Sqdn TOC was crammed into an M117 APC. We backed two next to each other with a tent between them. S3 had one and S2 had the other. AC meant taking your shirt off and pouring water over your head:-) We wore two headsets at a time-one for each main receiver and then turned up the aux receivers--glad to see there has been SOME improvement

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