At New Orleans airport, teams cobble together a network

Pvt. 1st Class Timothy Lesperance and Sgt. Roberto Matos

Dawn S. Onley

NEW ORLEANS'Sgt. Roberto Matos and Pvt. 1st Class Timothy Lesperance spend their days inside an air-conditioned tent at the New Orleans International Airport, creating user names and passwords for Army personnel to log onto personal server accounts.

The soldiers, part of the 56th Signal Brigade based in Fort Gordon, Ga., are working to support the 13th Core Area Support Command out of Fort Hood, Texas, which in turn supports soldiers deployed to the city's downtown area. The COSCOM unit is also deployed to the airport but is helping to provide ground troops with maintenance trucks and medical facilities.

"We provide communications for them (COSCOM)," explained Capt. Julian Stamps, 518-Tactical Installation and Network company commander under the 56th brigade. "We're pulling phone lines, NIPR, SIPR [Non-Classified IP Router Network and Secret IP Router Network] and VTC [videoteleconference] assets from Fort Detrick, Md., and Fort Gordon, Ga."

Stamps said he has about 50 soldiers at the airport site working on the communications infrastructure. The 56th went to Baton Rouge, La., last Tuesday before being sent to New Orleans on Wednesday.

Soldiers sleep on cots inside Concourse A in the terminal and walk about one-fourth of a mile to take a shower. "Everything is set up," he said.

Stamps said the computer infrastructure has been relatively easy and worry free to set up and maintain. Getting food, adequate space and a good night's sleep, on the other hand, has proven to be challenging.

GCN staff writer Dawn Onley is embedded with the Army's 93rd Signal Brigade in Camp Shelby, Miss. She will be sending reports on how the military is helping restore communications in Mississippi, New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La.

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