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24th MEU tests mobile command and control

9 May 2004 | Staff Sgt. Demetrio J. Espinosa 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Members of Marine Expeditionary Unit Service Support Group 24 -- the combat service support element of the 24th MEU-- are testing a new command and control vehicle that is capable of coordinating logistics and Marines on the move.

The vehicle was put together using an old, gutted military ambulance shell. It can be configured for a particular commander’s command and control needs.  The mobile command and control vehicle is currently an MSSG asset, but can be used by the MEU commander as a tactical, mobile control center.

“It is really four vehicles in one, said 1st Lt. Robert D. Sholtis, MSSG-24 communications officer.  “It allows you to talk to [aviation assets], or talk by [Ultra High Frequency] and satellite communications.  “You can even e-mail or send a fax,” said the Union Town, Pa., native.

These capabilities make it easier for the commander to hit the ground and begin coordinating with his Marines and vehicles immediately.

“It would normally take half a day to set up a [combat operations center]. Now, within 30 minutes you can have a COC set up,” said Sholtis. 

To be capable of this type of command and control, the vehicle is stocked with the latest communications equipment, including a 17-inch LCD screen where near-live battle information can be displayed while the vehicle is moving.

According to Sholtis, everything from maintenance information to enemy activity can be viewed.

Being able to communicate on the move is important.

“I like the fact that we have mobile SatCom,” said Lance Cpl. Frankie H. Cotten, a communications technician with MSSG-24.  “Normally they have to stop and set up antennas.  Now they have mobile communication,” said Cotten.

With the MEU’s upcoming deployment to Iraq on the horizon, the Marines here are looking for innovative ways to give them the advantage on the battlefield.  They are using this last training evolution as the test bed.  About 1,700 members of the 24th MEU will continue their TRUE training here before returning to Camp Lejeune, N.C., and preparing for their deployment.