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Army Sgt. Kent Westberg, Public Affairs, Headquarters and Headquarters Company 1/34 Brigade Combat Team, Camp Shelby, films 1st Lt. Rob Shuford, public affairs officer, 1st Marine Logistics Group, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, at Atlanta, Dec. 8, to practice shooting a live interview during the one week Digital Video and Imagery Distribution System training program. DVIDS has been in existence for two years, and in that amount of time, has been able to train nearly 240 servicemembers to use satellites to get news footage from the front to the public within a matter of minutes. Photo by Lance Cpl. James B. Hoke

Photo by Lance Cpl. James B. Hoke

Mobile satellite systems enhance communication for military, public

27 Nov 2007 | Lance Cpl. James B. Hoke and Lance Cpl. Stephen Holt

Since the dawn of time, during war, soldiers, warriors, knights and Marines have gone off to battle, leaving their loved ones behind with no contact from the front for several months to years at a time. Sadly, there is still the uncertainty of the whereabouts of loved ones fighting in Iraq and other areas of conflict. Fortunately, the increase of technology is allowing the United States Armed Forces to minimize that gap of ambiguity through the use of the Digital Video and Imagery Distribution System.

U.S. servicemembers from around the globe came to Atlanta, Dec. 5, to take part in the DVIDS training program, which was aimed to show servicemembers the technical aspects and capabilities of the global communications currently in place at forward bases and various stateside locations.

The satellite system has a wide-range of capabilities, but its mission has a clear statement.

"It is designed to support deployed commanders by helping them achieve communication objectives within (Central Command's) area of responsibility," said Army Lt. Col. Will R. Beckman, director, DVIDS hub.

By staying true to its mission statement, the system allows commanders to combat enemy propaganda, counter disinformation, inform Americans and shield the military from claims of tainted information by providing raw facts to news organizations, said Beckman.

The system allows for a greater degree of information distribution, as more local and hometown networks are able to gain access to footage such as interviews, supporting video and live broadcasts, added Beckman.

The Highland, Ill., native, went on to explain that the DVIDS system also allows commanding generals to respond to breaking news within an hour or two, rather than a lag time that would have responses hitting the air after the newsworthiness has passed.

However, by spreading news around the world, it has also unlocked the door to giving the public factual information on what is happening in the war on Iraq directly.

"It has opened up the ability to show footage in real time videos of fights in theater to the public," said Jason R. Lopez, software engineering manager, Norsat International Inc. "Before, you couldn't get the facts right away. Now, it is instantaneous."

With an initial cost per system of $150,000, it may seem a bit expensive, but the ability to make video from deployed servicemembers available to a wide network of media via a satellite link is immeasurable.

According to the Vancouver, Canada, native, the DVIDS has been in existence for two years, and in that amount of time, has been able to train nearly 240 servicemembers to use satellites to get news footage from the front to the public within a matter of minutes.

Currently there are a total of 53 systems fielded by the military, with the hopes it will bridge the digital information gap between the troops deployed in combat zones and the American people here at home. DVIDS continues to train servicemembers in an effort to make sure the public stays well informed.

3rd Marine Aircraft Wing