JALALABAD AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team are working with Afghan citizens to install an international ring of communication that someday will span Afghanistan and connect to its neighboring countries.

“With our satellites stretched to their limits by fighting on two war fronts, the fiber ring will completely overhaul the current communication system by allowing the new system to flow very fast and efficiently,” Army Maj. Patrick Dillinger, a Woodbridge, Va., native and communication officer, said.

This new system will bring a more efficient way of communicating to coalition forces, and build a foundation for the people by giving them a quicker means to communicate with the world, he explained.

“The fiber ring extends outward from Bagram Airfield, coming across all the major areas of operations, and it also will end back at [Bagram],” he said. “Then the fiber ring will extend its arms outward to its neighboring countries to expand the reach of communication.”

With the fiber ring set in place, coalition forces will be able to keep in touch with everyone within their area of operations without a line of sight.

“Fiber-optics communication is one of the most reliable networks to depend on while fighting the war in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Dillinger said. “My job is to keep the command group of Task Force Duke connected to [headquarters] and to have a system that will carry the next generation through future battles.”

Fiber-optic communication works by sending information from one place to another through pulses of light from an optical fiber.

“There are a lot of key players that came together on this project to make it happen; it’s not just U.S. forces that’s backing this project,” Dillinger said. Afghans are taking an interest in the national fiber ring, he noted, because they see its potential for communication.

Army 1st Sgt. Howard Charles, senior communication noncommissioned officer and a native of Alexandria, Va., said he threw himself head-first into the management of construction because of the importance of the project.

“The fiber ring will allow us to reach out to networks that are beyond our capability,” he said. “I think it will bring in the tool to help [the Afghan people] see what is out there. This system is the first of its kind in Afghanistan. This will make leaps and bounds for [NATO’s International Security Assistance Force] and the government of Afghanistan.”

Dillinger agreed that installing this system will improve communication with the outside world and give U.S. forces the edge in communicating with one another.

“This is ground-breaking work for a historical change in this country,” he said.

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