Satellite communications are the glue that holds long range military operations together. While hand-held satellite phones provide basic communications you need larger satellite dishes to provide large scale sending and receiving for numerous users in the immediate area. The solution is a portable (as possible) satellite dish that can be used by small units (down to the dozen or so men in a U.S. Army Special Forces detachment). In the last decade the standard equipment for this has gone from the 391 kg (860 pounds) AN/USC-60 1.8 meter (six foot) dish to the 200 kg (440 pound) SNAP 1.2M Lite 1.2 meter (four foot) system. The new SNAP gear travels in four cases, versus eight for the older model. Both can be set up in 30 minutes and the new model handles more data in more formats.
Both satellite dishes were first developed for the civilian market, which is larger than the military one. The AN/USC-60 was originally the L3 Communications FTSTAT system. Aside from electronic modifications for some military satellites and a different paint job on the cases, it's the same as the civilian equipment. Both dishes will quickly connect ground units to worldwide communications systems, including the Internet. These dishes are built to handle rain, high winds (gusts of up to 72 kilometers an hour), and freezing temperatures.
Portable gear like SNAP allows company size (units of under 200 troops) to carry and use satellite dish technology. SNAP and a generator to power it can be carried in the back of a hummer or a Blackhawk helicopter.