CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – The Marines of Communications Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, have their work cut out for them. Electromagnetic interference, elevation, physical obstacles and the atmosphere were just a few of the factors they needed to consider to keep communications running smoothly during the CLR-17 combat operations center exercise aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sept. 16-27, 2013.
Approximately 100 Marines with Communications Co. worked on setting up data, radio and wire communications systems at three sites to enable CLR-17’s logistical elements to function and support other forward units with the 1st MLG.
Once the systems were set up, Communications Co. Marines needed to ensure that their services remained functioning while they supported other elements of 1st MLG for the remainder of the exercise. This included units such as Combat Logistics Regiment 1, Combat Logistics Regiment 15, Combat Logistics Battalion 15 and 7th Engineer Support Battalion.
“We provide command, control, communications and computer services to the Marines on the ground from any location in the world,” said 1st Lt. Michael R. Castaneda, operations officer with CLR-17, 1st MLG. “Radio, wire, technical control and data sections work together to make communications happen.”
Although communications is a highly technical military occupational specialty, there was also a lot of basic groundwork that needed to be done. Different groups assembled field antennas and satellite dishes, dug up trenches for the fiber wires to run through and calibrated communications systems for optimum transmission during the first day.
The Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Internet systems (C4I) employed by Communications Co., CLR-17, are vital for Marine Corps expeditionary units to successfully coordinate, close with and destroy the enemy. Thus, it is crucial for them to maintain the utmost technical and tactical proficiency at what they do, especially in a challenging environment such as Camp Pendleton.
“Operating in Camp Pendleton is difficult for two reasons: the rolling hills make it challenging for high-frequency, line-of-sight communications and the electromagnetic interference from residential areas also affects transmissions,” said Sgt. Jason Davis, an electronic key management systems custodian with Communications Co., CLR-17. “This equipment is used in smaller forward operating bases and can be quickly disassembled and assembled. It’s important to be proficient with these systems so we can enable brigade level units to push forward.”
However, Davis has complete faith in the effectiveness of his equipment, especially with regards to satellite communications, which are unaffected by the same challenges that sometimes encumber high-frequency radio communications.
“Satellite transmissions allow you to communicate anywhere in the world and use a lot of advanced technology, but we can operate it easily thanks to our equipment,” said Davis, a native of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
The exercise provided the Communications Marines with an immense amount of responsibility at all levels and a great deal of experience.
“I’m running and maintaining two generators so that data, technological control, wire and radio platoons can have power to operate their equipment,” said Lance Cpl. Jayleen Rodriguez, a basic electrician with Communications Co., CLR-17. “Being the sole electrician with this group, it gets challenging because I’m tasked with a lot of responsibilities even as a lance corporal and you have to meet certain time frames.”
“So far, I’ve been able to meet all the deadlines successfully,” added Rodriguez, a native of Springfield, Mass.
Ultimately, communications are vital to any exercise which rehearses command and control procedures.
“Communications company played a huge role,” said 1st Lt. Tyler Morrison, executive officer with CLR-17, 1st MLG and the officer-in-charge of the Kilo-2 detachment during the exercise. “They were the ones who got there first and established our connectivity. Without the communications services, we wouldn’t have been able to do the exercise.”