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I Corps establishes radio communication with TROKA

August 24, 2015

By Staff Sgt. Steven Schneider

YONGIN, South Korea -- Communication is one of the most important capabilities of a military, and the ability to communicate effectively and safely with its allies is equally important to be an effective bilateral fighting force.

To add another secure form of communication between I Corps and the Third Republic of Korea Army, U.S. and Korean, Soldiers worked Aug. 19-20 to gain the ability to transmit over encrypted channels using the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System as part of Ulchi Freedom Guardian 2015.

This was the first time I Corps and TROKA forces have established this communication capability.

"Our main goal was we needed to test to see if we could communicate tactically and securely between I Corps and TROKA," said 1st Lt. Rosita Luapeno, a platoon leader in Company C., Special Troops Battalion, I Corps.

In order to get the countries different SINCGARS to communicate on encrypted channels, they had to use a repeater.

"We had to link our SINCGARS with theirs using a repeater, so the different COMSECs [communication securities] could talk to each other," said Spc. Aaron Joseph Bohler, signal support systems specialist in Company C. "The signal goes through the repeater it scrambles it, and then rearranges it so they can hear it on their radio."

If it came down to it and all other forms of secure communication failed, this radio setup would allow each side to talk to each other in a secure manner, Luapeno said.

Both the Korean and U.S. Soldiers had to work through some difficulties in getting the systems to talk with one another, but through translators and a willingness to work through the issues together, they were able to succeed, she said.

"It was a bit frustrating at first," said Spc. Paul Leva, signal support systems specialist in Company C. "It was our first time using the equipment and of course there was the language barrier."

After learning how to use a repeater, the Soldiers were able to establish a secure line of communication which would be useful if the countries ever needed to communicate in a tactical environment.

"They had a couple of different configurations they worked with in different ways to find out which one would work the best," said Bohler. "In the end, we were able to communicate securely with one another."

Ulchi Freedom Guardian is an annual defense-oriented exercise that allows U.S. and ROK forces to enhance readiness and evaluate the two military's capabilities while working together on the Korean peninsula.

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