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GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — The American Forces Network aired its first live television broadcast from a combat zone last week — a report on morale and living conditions of soldiers from the 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment serving in Baghdad.

The Oct. 11 broadcast featured AFN Bavaria reporter Staff Sgt. Jose Colon interviewing 2nd Cav soldiers, including the unit’s deputy commander, Lt. Col. Bryan Denny at Camp Liberty.

Denny reported that morale among 2nd Cav troops was high despite recent casualties. He also talked about operations by the regiment that led to the detention of 40 suspected terrorists, disarming of makeshift bombs and discovery of several weapons caches.

Colon said he was as nervous as his interview subjects about the broadcast but was keen to see his work get back to those left behind in Vilseck.

“For the families back there in Germany, it was beneficial for them to see what is going on over here,” he said.

AFN-Europe news director Bucky Buchwald said AFN has done live radio broadcasts from combat zones many times but that this was the first live television broadcast.

“What has made it possible is that the technology has come a long way,” he said. “The technology has been there for quite some time for networks stateside to do live broadcasts, but AFN was not outfitted with the kind of equipment or budget to do that. It requires significant engineering pieces to be put together and the talent to make it happen.”

The live report was broadcast using a transmitter operated by Digital Video and Imagery Distribution System at Camp Liberty. The transmitter normally is used to transmit multimedia stories filed by Army public affairs staff in Iraq, he said.

During the live broadcast, a signal was sent to DVIDS headquarters in Atlanta via a satellite and then bounced off another satellite to AFN-Europe’s newsroom in Mannheim, he said.

Transmission resulted in a two-second delay but it was quick enough for Colon to answer questions from an anchor based in Germany.

Why do it? It was a new capability for AFN. It was really challenging for the staff. And it was such a good way to connect the 2nd Cavalry troops with families in Germany, Buchwald said, adding that there has been good feedback about the broadcast from 2nd Cav Family Readiness Groups.

AFN is planning future live broadcasts but has yet to determine when or where they will happen, he said.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.

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