24 March 2010

Pimp my Ryder TOC

It might not look like much to you, but this picture of my unit's latest equipment makes this old Army communications soldier get all misty and tingly. Maybe he's just not grounded properly ... More likely, however, it's just feelings of good old nostalgia setting in. After all, the names and equipment may have changed from 20 years ago, but a van-based commo van on the back of a two-seater Humvee is pretty much the spitting image of my first tactical ride.

So, this picture makes me happy. To me, it's the Army version of a 1970-something conversion van featuring a purple shag-carpet on all interior surfaces--including the dashboard--with an scene airbrushed on its exterior involving an armored-yet-bikini-wearing young lass and a dragon ... or, better yet, a robot ... or, even better, a robot dragon ... the overall artistic impression of this adolescent piece of work being akin to the worldly pin-up girl on the nose of Grandpa's bomber in World War II. Yes, I said that all in one breath.

Oh, and that van would have a name--something like "Cap'n America" ... or "Mister E Machine" ... or "Thor's Hammock."

This new equipment is called a "Command Post Platform," or "C.P.P." There are four of them that "boot in" (connect to) our brigade's Tactical Operations Center (TOC, pronounced "talk). (By the way, if I haven't mentioned it before, our brigade radio callsign is "Ryder"--a reference to Maj. Gen. Charles W. Ryder. I hope that explains the "Pimp my ..." title of this post a little more.) It's chockfull of radios and computer routers and other communications equipment, evidenced by the many antennas bristling on top of its Rigid Wall Shelter (R.W.S.).

When I first joined the Iowa Army National Guard, we had a whole battalion of similar Humvee-shelter combinations. Radio and telephone operators used to sit in the little air-conditioned "vans"--the cool air was for the maintenance of equipment, not the comfort of the soldiers--but it was still one of the best jobs in the Army.

These CPPs are pretty much set-up-and-forget. They don't require a soldier to sit inside them to act as an operator, in the old telephone-switchboard sense of the word. Users throughout the TOC can use radios, text-message, and communicate via the intercoms provided by the CPP, using desktop devices called Crew Access Units (CAU, pronounced--I am not making this up--"cows."). The CAU headphones are noise-cancelling, and you can actually set them up to monitor a different radio conversation in each ear. I'm in multi-tasking TOC-rat heaven.

That's why, although it's not exactly my baby anymore, this picture makes me happy. All it needs is a little up-armor. And some fuzzy dice. And some nose art.

"If the commo van's a rockin', don't come a'knockin'."


  1. Many years ago, when we had a truck called "Gamma Goats", we had to build our own boxes for the back. We'd load them up with 8 track players and rock out. The plywood did little to stop any projectiles, but at that time, we didn't care.

    Flash forward to today... the boxes they come up with for the Humvees take all the custom work out of it...but I guess you can still stick an 8 track in there.

    Makes you wonder what our grand kids will have in their war.

  2. CCP could also stand for CoffeyPot Percolator - sounds good to me. Brings a tear to my eye, too.

  3. @ CI-Roller Dude: Weren't the "Goats" hinged in the middle, too? I betcha we could find a couple on eBay or mil-surplus somewhere ... And I'm totally with you on the 8-track front. I once cracked up an entire briefing room by saying that I'd made CD-ROMs for all the attendees except the Engineers. For them, I said, I'd made 8-track tapes!

    @ Coffeypot: Now that you mention it, I probably could gin up some good-looking "pin-up girl" nose-art on a caffeinated theme ...


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