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Fort Buckner

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Fort Buckner
Okinawa, Japan
Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner was the commander of the 10th Army, which had operational control of the Battle of Okinawa. Fort Buckner, location of the 58th Signal Battalion headquarters, is named in his honor. There is a small memorial for him at the location where he died. Buckner was killed by artillery fire while visiting the front line on June 18, 1945, just seven days before the battle was over on June 25.

The 58th Signal Battalion is located on Fort Buckner, a sub-post of the Marine Corps' Camp Foster. The 58th provides all Defense Information Infrastructure (DII) transmissions links on and off Okinawa, as well as all inter-base communication links. The mission of the 58th Signal Battalion is a critical role in inter-base, tactical and strategic Command, Control, Communications and Computer (C4) network support of joint Pacific warfighters. The 58th Signal Battalion also provides all Army direct and general support electronic maintenance support for the Pacific theater. The 58th Signal Battalion operates all joint DoD military inter-base communications as well as all Army intra-base communications.

The 58th's Defense Support Communications Satellite (DSCS) facility at Fort Buckner is a critical DSCS station. Its earth stations and Strategic to Tactical Entry Point (STEP) facilities provide support to four Commanders-in-Chief (CINCs): Commander-in-Chief Pacific Command, Commander-in-Chief US Forces Korea, Commander-in-Chief Europe Command and Commander-in-Chief Central Command as well as other national agencies. The battalion operates, maintains and deploys under Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) control, a Contingency Satellite Earth Terminal. The 58th Signal Battalion also operates an area maintenance support facility and warehouse, provides communications electronics supply and maintenance to the entire western Pacific.

The Defense Satellite Communications System Ground Mobile Force Control Link Section (DGCL) provides an interface between the strategic and tactical SATCOM network controllers. Since the DGCL will operate as the largest special user subnet within the DSCS Operational Control System (DOCS), the DGCL requires its own subnet controller at selected DOCS sites.

The Pacific AUTOVON served the DOD and other authorized users in Korea, Japan, Okinawa, Guam, the Philippines, and Hawaii. Intra-area and worldwide connectivity were provided with constraints. The constraints resulted from equipment limitations that lessened the network's usefulness and strategic value. All switching of AUTOVON calls to or from Japan involved a single switch at Fuchu Air Station, which also handled Korean traffic. Korea had no AUTOVON switch and relied on access lines to Fuchu, AS, Japan; Wahiawa, Hawaii; and Fort Buckner, Okinawa. The US Army (USASTRATCOM Long Lines Battalion) was responsible for the Operations and Maintenance at the Ft. Buckner ASC. Site personnel consisted of Philco-Ford (Operations, Maintenance, and Programming), Department of the Army Civilians (DAC's) and military personnel. In 1971 the Army assumed full operational responsibility when the Philco-Ford contract expired.

The DSN in the Pacific consists of digital switch replacements of all Pacific AUTOVON switches and the addition of new DSN nodal switches. The DSN nodal switches consist of digital, common control, off-the-shelf, commercial technology with military-unique C2 driven modifications. The Army installed an MFS at Fort Buckner, Okinawa to replace the AUTOVON switch there and MFS's at Camp Zama and at Yokosuka. The Navy provided the funding for Yokosuka. The Marine Corps installed an MFS at Camp Courtney, Okinawa.

Because of the communication equipment on Fort Buckner, this is a strategic site. In addition to being the hub of military communications on Okinawa, 58th Signal Battalion also has the responsibility to defend its high-tech satellites and equipment on Fort Buckner. This task falls on 58th?s site-defense team, which trains once a month on various tasks, including defending satellites and equipment against an aggressor. Teams of soldiers check the compound for suspicious packages, move vehicles away from buildings, and roving guards pace the perimeter in search of anyone attempting to infiltrate the compound. To increase the security at the gate, one team of soldiers arranges portable plastic barriers, creating an obstacle to slow approaching vehicles and prevent them from making a run toward the facilities within the compound. Meanwhile, another team runs a fire hose from the nearest hydrant to fill the lightweight hollow barriers with water, turning them into formidable barricades. With the barricades in place, vehicles which were allowed into the compound are then searched inside and out for explosive devices and anything that looked suspicious.

A firestorm of notional terrorist activity was unleashed on Army installations on Okinawa 3-5 April 2001 as the Army on Okinawa underwent its annual joint force protection exercise. A series of bomb threats, demonstrations/protests, building evacuations and hostage situations occurred with the relentless precision of a burning fuse throughout the duration of the exercise. To begin the exercise, members of the ?terrorist organization? were found while taking photographs and gathering intelligence on Torii Station, Fort Buckner, Chimu Wan and Chibana. Terrorist activity and propaganda banners found on Torii Station and Fort Buckner prompted the 10th Area Support Group to upgrade to Threat Condition Bravo. Two bomb threats occurred simultaneously on the first day of the exercise to the Army Community Services Building, building 236 and the Headquarters Building 210. Several soldiers from 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) acted as role players for a demonstration inside the gates at Fort Buckner.

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