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Trench highlights interoperability

ALI BASE, Iraq - Airmen and Soldiers finished a trenching project June 10 that stretches for almost a half mile here.

The trench will tie hardened aircraft shelters the Army will be using into the communications network here and highlights the two services interoperability.

The project wasn't the first time the Airmen from the 407th Expeditionary Communications Squadron and Soldiers from the 40th Expeditionary Signal Battalion have teamed up. Embly Thomas, 40th ESB outside plant civilian leader, said in his year here he has worked on six to nine projects with the Air Force.

"It's a shared responsibility to keep communications up on the base and that's the way we handle it," he said. "We work hand-in-hand, we learn from each other and it gives us a different perspective on different projects."

"There's strength in these shared relationships; this is enhancing all of our combat capabilities ... force protection, warfighting ... all of that," he said.

Some of the ways the two services compliment each other here is through training and technique. "We get trained one way of doing
something and the Air Force learns another way -- we all have our standards and we work with each other as far as ideas go and we put them together and come up with a solution," said Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Smolinski, noncommissioned officer in charge of Bravo Company, 40th ESB.

Another way the two services work together is by sharing resources. The Army here used to have a machine to dig trenches and lay cable at the same time. The Air Force used to borrow it until the Army had to lend it to another forward operating base, which is why the Army went to the Air Force for assistance with the trench.

"If one of us doesn't have the equipment to get the job done, that doesn't mean the job just doesn't get done - that means we work together closely, enhancing the capabilities of both organizations," said Staff Sgt. Ray Stetler, 407th ECS noncommissioned officer in charge of infrastructure, who is deployed from Tinker AFB, Okla.

"For this project the Air Force is saving us a good day's work, and believe me, every minute counts for us because there is a lot going on, on this FOB," Sergeant Smolinski said.

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