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NEWS | Sept. 19, 2018

Reserve Soldiers helping the U.S. Army complete its mission — with a SNAP of their fingers

By 1st Lt. Marcus Matthews-Marion 4th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)

Communication in the military universe is vital. Overseas and on deployment, it can be a matter of life and death.

During the next five days, Warrant Officer Edward Cheney, Staff Sgt. Gregory Gutierrez, Sgt. Kahlil ValentinSanchez, Spc. Jason Buck, and Spc. David Rocha from Grand Prairie’s 300th Sustainment Brigade will get a technical crash course in communication at Fort Hood.

Enter Secure Internet Protocol Router/Non-secure Internet Protocol Router Access Point — more commonly referred to as SNAP — training. It’s designed to help push the United States Army Reserve toward the former and save it from the latter.

“SNAPs are designed to provide satellite communications to small units at remote forward operating bases,” said Cpt. Michael McClain, the brigade’s primary communications officer. “That technology becomes more vital in places where those bases are unable to use terrestrial radios due to issues with terrain or distance.”

The training prepares military members to connect diverse networks on both the Non-Classified Internet Protocol Router (NIPR) and Secure Internet Protocol Router (SIPR) platforms. The Army’s Program Executive Office Command and Control-Tactical website describes it as a “non-program of record system that bridges gaps created by rugged-expansive terrain and sparse infrastructure by deploying transportable and commercial off-the-shelf Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) satellite terminals.” 

Per the PEO, they can deploy more quickly than larger satellite terminals. McClain, as well as his section, will be responsible for ensuring stable communications for multiple units in a one million square-mile radius when the brigade’s more than 250 Soldiers deploy to Southeast Asia in support of Operation Spartan Shield. 

For them and Soldiers like them, mastery of the system technology isn’t just vital. Breaks in communication could become matters of life and death.

“SNAP terminals provide reliable satellite communication access and take advantage of commercial equipment to expedite the fielding process,” he continued. “They provide access to the tactical and strategic networks for mission command, calls for fire, Medevac and information exchange.“

The 300th Sustainment Brigade is a part of the 4th Expeditionary Sustainment Command. The command is made up of Soldiers, civilians and their families in units headquartered throughout Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. As part of America’s Army Reserve, these units are trained, combat-ready and equipped to “sustain the fight” and provide military and logistical support in any corner of the globe.