FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELARAM II, Afghanistan --
Communication is key to mission success in Afghanistan. From a convoy commander speaking to other vehicles over a radio, to a commanding officer receiving a situation report through an email, communication is crucial.
Members of 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward) are spread out all over Helmand Province, Afghanistan, but when they find their communication gear in need of repair, the communications technicians show up to save the day regardless of the distance.
A communication contact team arrived at Forward Operating Base Delaram II to repair and replace some broken equipment for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal team, April 19.
“We supplied EOD with one of the new [Blue Force Trackers] because their old one was inoperable,” said Cpl. Maxwell Lewis, radio technician, 1st MLG (Fwd).
The BFT is the primary method for communication for EOD teams while on missions.
“It allows them to track and communicate with any of the [EOD] teams moving throughout the area of operations,” said Gunnery Sgt. Homero Garza, communication maintenance chief, 1st MLG (Fwd).
During the visit, the contact team also visited other 1st MLG (Fwd) units aboard the FOB.
“We also came here to check up on all other MLG services to ensure they have all their communications assets and support needed,” said Garza. “We’re just making sure they are 100 percent mission capable.”
The communications technicians send out teams to all areas where 1st MLG (Fwd) units operate. A survey team is sent to find what repairs are needed, and then a follow up team goes to conduct the necessary repairs.
“I go on all the initial visits to assess any shortfalls or future maintenance issues, and to prevent potential issues,” said Garza, 35, a Killeen, Texas, native. “I take a team member with me, so when the second team goes back to the site, one of the members already knows their expectations. We don’t want to send a team in blind.”
For Lewis, going out on a contact team shows him the broader impact of his job and offers a different experience than working in the shop at Camp Leatherneck.
“I like being able to go out and do my job because I get to see the big picture and see how doing my job allows others to do theirs,” said Lewis, 22, a Chickamauga, Ga., native. “Being deployed is a great opportunity to get experience that I can take back to the rear and share with my junior Marines.”
Whether it is computers, satellite equipment, telephones, data networking or mobile radio assets, the communication technicians are responsible for fixing any problems that may come up for units in 1st MLG (Fwd).
Though communication Marines operate the equipment, the technicians, whose primary job is to repair the gear, must also know the role of their counterparts.
“We have to know how to operate it, so we can isolate the faults to the lowest component,” said Garza.
For the EOD team at Delaram II, their communication assets are now fully operational.
“We served our purpose out here,” said Garza. “We fixed what we needed to fix and ensured 100 percent operational readiness for the incoming EOD team.”