“We were dangerously close to becoming non-mission capable for ground to air communications.”

That was the moment Senior Master Sergeant Thomas “Kraken” Schaefer knew that his mission could be in jeopardy.

Deployed in Iraq as Operations Superintendent for the 72nd Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron, Schaefer serves as a Joint Tactical Air Controller (JTAC). He and his squadron direct all close air support sorties based on the U.S. & Coalition Commanders Intent. The JTACs then advise, assist and control the precision targeting of ISIL insurgent targets. But on this occasion, they were up against a difficult challenge.

“The bottom line is that we lost the ability to load encrypted mission information into our 117Gs due to a port being burned out by a speaker cable,” Schaefer said.

With over 40,000 Harris Falcon III® AN/PRC-117Gs fielded worldwide, U.S. and coalition forces rely on the manpack’s reliable real-time delivery of voice, video and data that connects the tactical edge to command centers. But without secure encryption, Top Secret transmissions were impossible. A communications blackout loomed. Although non-Harris supplied cables were the culprits, Schaefer reached out to Harris.

James “Zagz” Zagorsky, a former Air Force Tactical Air Control Party Specialist and now a USAF TACP Account Manager with Harris Communication Systems, worked with the U.S. State Department and others at Harris to solve Schaefer’s encryption issues.

“We sent speakers, handsets and new cabling,” said Zagz. “The U.S. followed up with orders for more AN/PRC-117Gs and have added the Harris RF-7800I Tactical Intercom Networking System, which will greatly enhanced their force interoperability. Airmen want and need reliable communications,” Zagz added. “They expect a higher level of quality with a Harris product. We provide them the dominant edge in communications.”

“I want to thank all you guys for your extraordinary help in getting us the equipment that we needed to accomplish our mission,” Schaefer wrote to Harris. “The comms are more powerful and the reception is clearer. You never fail us and Harris is the only company we should go to.”