QUANTICO MARINES EXPERIENCE 'COMM' AT THE 'TIP OF THE SPEAR'

17 Nov 2000 | Sgt. Kevin Dolloson

Communication is paramount in any relationship, whether it be personal or professional, which is why the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit's  (24th MEU) Joint Task Force Enabler (JTFE) just completed a three-week field exercise to hone their communication techniques.

The JTFE is responsible for setting up phone lines, electronic mail, NATO-specific applications, message traffic and video teleconferencing (VTC) in a field or deployed environment.

According to Maj. Herbert Schweiter, Command Element Communications Officer, this is the first time the 24th MEU has used the entire JTFE during A.P. Hill training.

"This is a highly beneficial opportunity for this team to focus on bringing all the requisite services we'll be using in theater," said Schweiter.

This training afforded 24th MEU Marines the opportunity to rehearse set-up and breakdown of antennas, satellites and computer systems in a foreign environment.

As the exercise reached its conclusion, several Marines from Marine Corps Base Quantico's Communications Officers Training School visited the JTFE site.  They toured Radio Central, where the high-frequency and very high-frequency antennas are staged, as well as the satellite and message centers.

"It's great that we get to exercise in a field environment where we practice 'Command and Control'," said 1stLt. Russell Burke, Joint Task Force Officer,  "as well as refine our abilities to communicate through the Strategic Tactical Entry Point in Europe."

"It's a welcome change during our exercise to give a tour to a group of potential communication officers," added Burke.  "... This environment allows them to see the full communications spectrum in one place.  In school, or wherever they may get stationed, they'll only see one or two of these aspects at a time."

According to some of the radio operators, training at A.P. Hill has proven to be helpful for their learning process.

"Being here has definitely helped strengthen my skills in communications, so I can be more proficient during deployment," said Tampa Bay, Fla. native LCpl. Joshua Rioux, Field Radio Operator.

"I've been with the MEU for more than a year now and I think it's always good to practice here first what we're actually going to be doing in the 'Med'," said Cpl. Christopher Devall, of Charleston, S.C.

Follow the 24th MEU pre-deployment on their website at www.usmc.mil/24meu.