FORT BUCKNER, Okinawa — A new power system for the Army’s 58th Signal Battalion here will ensure no communications breakdowns for U.S. forces in the Pacific, officials say.

Installation of the $9 million system, which successfully passed extensive testing in the United States, is to start in February, said Alex Meno, project manager for the 58th Signal Battalion.

“Having a reliable and uninterrupted power system is especially critical in today’s global war-on-terrorism environment,” Meno said. “Our warfighters are constantly deployed throughout the regions, relying heavily on vital communications services.”

The 58th Signal Battalion supports ongoing missions for the joint task forces within the West Pacific and Indian Ocean regions, he said, calling Fort Buckner “one of the most critical facilities in the Pacific Theater.”

A back-up power system is especially important for a place such as Okinawa, which was lashed by 13 typhoons last year, Meno said.

“Our mission is to enable our deployed warfighters anywhere within Fort Buckner’s area of responsibility to communicate with their home station,” he said.

The existing 40-year-old system reportedly was in danger of being sorely outdated. Past updating was done piecemeal due to a lack of funds, according to Randy White, the project’s lead engineer with the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command.

“We knew it was time for a new system after we had to ship a 500-pound, refrigerator-sized circuit breaker to California twice, within a few months, for repairs,” stated White in an Army news release.

The new power-generating equipment includes quiet, fuel-efficient, 1,000-kilowatt generators; microprocessor-based engine controls; touch-screen monitors; embedded diagnostics; and multiple layers of redundancy, or back-ups.

Jorge Blanco, a product leader with the Army’s Product Manager, Defense Wide Transmission Systems, stated in the release that a “true distributed processing system” will be installed at Fort Buckner, meaning “there is no single point of failure that can bring down the entire system.”

The project’s prime contractor is Eaton/Powerware of Raleigh, N.C., which is designing, installing and integrating the system. Caterpillar Integrated Switchgear Organization is providing the generators, transformers and control, distribution and load-switching equipment, officials stated.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now