Local News

Communication Specialists' Work Can Be Very Dangerous

Posted January 10, 2002

— Wednesday's KC-130 crash and the death of Sgt. Nathan Chapman, the first soldier killed by hostile fire, in Afghanistan prove just how dangerous jobs in the military are. Chapman was a communications specialist, which can be a lot more dangerous than it sounds.

A communication specialist is trained to set up communications from a remote area to another part of the world, but that is just one of their responsibilities. They can often find themselves working directly with leaders of local tribes.

Sgt. 1st Class Troy Anderson has been in the Army for 19 years. He has spent more than six as a Special Forces soldier.

"There is danger in everything we do," he said.

Like other Special Forces jobs, being a communication specialist has its risk. Each specialist is trained to work with tribal leaders and help them plan missions.

"The biggest thing we do on a regular basis is small-infantry tactics, help their army become better at what they do," Anderson said.

Chapman was meeting with local tribe members in Afghanistan when he was shot and killed. The Pentagon is now investigating whether he was ambushed. WRAL military expert Ret. Lt. Gen. Robert Springer said in that region of the world, your friend one day can be your foe the next.

"Especially in Afghanistan, they have a long history of switching sides. I'm your prisoner. No, I'll be your soldier. That's what makes it difficult," he said.

All Special Forces soldiers are trained in force-protection measures to prevent an ambush. Still, there are no guarantees. Anderson said he knew that when he signed up.

Chapman's memorial service will be held Thursday. His funeral is scheduled for Friday at a national cemetery near Seattle.

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