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Modern Technology Makes Relief Missions More Efficient

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FORT BRAGG — The 4th Psychological Operations Group is helping to save lives in Central America as part of Hurricane Mitch Relief.

Some of the troops from Fort Bragg are in Honduras, but modern technology is allowing many more soldiers to provide humanitarian relief while, at the same time, saving money on deployments and reducing the amount of soldiers who have to leave home to provide help.

"Historically a mission of this size would have taken 100 to 150 personnel," said Lt. Col. Brad Ward of the 4th Psychological Operations Group. "Based on the use of technology, we've cut that down to 24 percent deployable."

Just three years ago this was not the case, but through technology, special operations soldiers can do from their desks what they once did in the field.

Deployed soldiers can send digital pictures of the disaster and information through the Internet and video via satellite.

"It gives us a sense that we are there," said Sgt. Robert Burns. "It gives us an idea of what we can do to help them get their point across."

The soldiers that remain in Fort Bragg help by producing public service announcements, brochures and leaflets that inform hurricane victims about things they need to know. For example, one flier tells how to minimize catching a disease from the dirty water.

"Typically before it would take one to two weeks to develop production and get it ready to go," said Spc. Scott Bealen. "Now we can do that in a matter of days."

Without the technology, Ward estimated that 95 special operations soldiers would have been deployed for this mission instead of just 24.

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Melissa Buscher, Reporter
Mark Copeland, Photographer
Kelly Gardner, Web Editor

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