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U.S. troops' needs for Haiti command post keep growing

Tuesday, January 19, 2010; A10

In Port-au-Prince, near the U.S. Embassy, troops from the 18th Airborne hurried Monday to set up a command and control post to serve as an operational center for military leaders overseeing relief and recovery efforts. Huge cargo planes had arrived with equipiment.

"It's like bringing in Time Warner Cable to the field," said Maj. John Calhoun, the network engineer in charge of setting up the command post's computer networks.

His computers, cables, satellites and other systems were up and running mid-morning Monday, but there were still some things he said he could use. Some of the most needed items: computer equipment. Plus some coffee.

"Don't dare send decaf," he told his counterparts back at Fort Bragg in North Carolina by phone. "Go ahead and throw some grounding rods on there. And an S2 modem. Fans. Toilet paper. Hand sanitizer."

The operation here is big already, but it will get bigger. Right now, there are estimated 200 military personnel working at the command center.

Outside Calhoun's tent, which was filled with computer gear, other soldiers from the 18th Airborne Corps worked on trucks and generators. With equipment still en route, they didn't yet have everything they needed. Gas and oil for trucks remained in short supply.

"It's hard to get it all here so fast," Sgt. Lance Gallimore said as he worked on a broken truck.

-- Dana Hedgpeth

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