Walking along the streets here (gravel paths, routes between buildings, whatever) I have gotten used to overhead wires.  Just like in childhood, there are telephone poles with wires running between the poles and swapping back and forth across the street in a dance only understood by those who strung them up many months or years ago.

Living in the US and Western Europe, the concept of wires along the roads is old fashion and rarely seen. Instead, cables, wires and fiber optics are buried. Allegedly in an well thought out, marked on everyone’s city plan along with water and sewage hook ups. The idea of getting power to a building by jury-rigged stringing immediately conjures up the idea of someone living “off the grid.” The expression itself speaks volumes to usual practices and concepts.

Then you come to deployment areas.  Most of which are in third world countries where power lines and phone lines provided navigation hazards to helicopters from the beginning of the deployment, especially with the limited regulation and lack of same on most maps.

For [pick one – NATO, US, UK, OZ] arriving military forces, early in the deployment, power is local. Extremely local, as in your generator is outside your workspace or sleeping tent. Lack of regular fuel delivery means you have no comms, lights or heat. As deployments progress, we switch over to a grid with more centralized power generation. This might mean a generator farm, it might mean pulling from a host nation power supply. There is good and bad news – the good is that most of your S4 shop/motor pool is no longer tied up with insuring fuel truck deliveries and actually can work on other supplies and issues. The down side is that you are now at the mercy of others for power.

Wire overhead is subject to stupid and inconsiderate activities by large trucks, Hets, cherry pickers and crane operators who might well wind up saying – oops. Buried cable, which somehow is never located exactly where it is on the map is subject to being cut every single time some idiot digs a hole.

Either way, if you work in a windowless room, there is not much you can do without electricity. Certainly you have no lights or ventilation. Even more important, the UPS for the servers has an extremely limited battery life. The batteries on the laptops even less. Makes it rather hard to do anything but make phone calls in the dark.

Although in different sectors, my office and BHut are on the same grid.

Surprisingly – the USO is not.

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2 Responses to Wires

  1. Diane says:

    Good morning! Enjoyed your e-mail about the telephone poles/wires. Brought back many memories of my childhood back when there were such things as telephone poles Telephone poles were about every, oh, 30 feet apart and made great boundaries for games, childhood arguments (you’re not coming into my yard!), excitement during electrical storms (especially if the lightening hit a transformer) and all sorts of goodies. A place to hang signs (for sale, lost pet, etc.) or a form of entertainment when the linemen would come along to fix or repair the lines and have to climb those poles.

  2. Carmen says:

    We don’t have buried wires in Wheaton. That is why we lose power all the time. Only the really new suburbs have buried wires. It is pretty expensive to run buried wire. $3M per mile I have heard.

    I hope to have solar panels in Colorado for part of my power, and possibly a small windmill.

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