Friday, July 13, 2007

‘Hope Rope’ keeps Soldiers safe while guarding patrol bases

By Capt. Amanda J. Nalls
210th BSB, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq — Soldiers serving in Iraq are expected to perform myriad tasks while deployed, one of which is guarding the many towers overlooking the patrol bases and forward operating bases.
The troops of the 210th Brigade Support Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) out of Fort Drum, N.Y., are no different, and they spend quite a bit of time in the towers, guarding their comrades below in the brigade’s area of operations southwest of Baghdad.
The towers, often constructed on-site at these remote locations, are difficult to climb in and out of with the heavy protective gear worn by all Soldiers. The rungs of the ladders are often up to a foot apart, making Soldiers stretch the limits of their capabilities while climbing up to defend their fellow Soldiers inside the wire.
Soldiers in the 210th BSB have teamed up with their maneuver battalion counterparts to assess the difficulties associated with guarding these towers.
Warrant Officer Troy Hope, a native of Brunswick, Ga., who serves as the Company B, 210th BSB allied trades technician, has taken the reins on the project and developed what has affectionately come to be called the “Hope Rope.”
The “Hope Rope” combines a harness traditionally used by Soldiers that serve as vehicle gunners and a length of rope. The rope, attached to rebar inside the tower, allows the Soldiers to raise their gear into the tower first, and then climb up, uninhibited by the cumbersome equipment that they will need during their guard shift. Once in the tower, Soldiers wear the harness which allows them to be safely lowered to the ground if they are injured while in the tower.
“Our section has traveled to the patrol bases that house these towers and developed the best product possible to keep our Soldiers safe,” said Hope of his Co. B Soldiers. “I think this new equipment will prevent the broken tailbones and spinal injuries that we’ve been seeing in some units in Iraq. Soldiers trying to climb up into those towers have a difficult time, especially with the amount of gear we wear. The ‘Hope Rope’ should eliminate many of the problems we’re seeing associated with Soldiers’ safety in guard towers.”
In addition to the ropes, Hope and his team have also created and installed sniper screens in towers throughout the 2nd BCT’s sector. The team has begun welding ballistic windshields from Army vehicles to metal supports in the towers.
“The screens are to reduce injury from sniper fire,” said Hope. “They will afford the Soldiers some much-needed protection.”
Hope’s team of four Soldiers is currently producing both the Hope Rope and the sniper screens at their welding shop on Camp Striker.

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