8th Comm. advance party to set stage for transition

18 Jul 2005 | Sgt. Stephen M. DeBoard

A contingent of Marines from 8th Communication Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force, deployed July 18 to set the stage for the deployment of the battalion’s main body later this year.

The advance party’s mission, said Durham, N.C., native Sgt. Robert M. Childree, operations noncommissioned officer, A Company, is to ensure the transition from B Co., 8th Comm. to A Co. goes smoothly.

“Alpha Company is the comm support for 8th Comm. Bn.,” said Capt. Garry T. Steffen, A Co. commander, “Bravo Company is over there now, and we’re going to switch out with them.”
Once assembled in Iraq, Alpha Co and its support elements will be responsible for providing all communications for II MEF, including voice and data transmissions, said Master Sgt. Gregory F. Mims, operations chief, Alpha Co.

“Our company is a direct support company, and we will be on the sites providing transmission links for the outlying camps. We support the division, wing, [force service support group], pretty much everyone that’s out there,” he said.

“We will be the mouthpiece for the MEF commander to direct all the [MEF supporting commands] in their mission,” said Mims.
A Co. Marines will also man a help desk to field trouble calls from around the theater to ensure continuity of service, said Mims.

In addition to providing reliable communications, 8th Comm. is responsible for ensuring the security of the network, said Elmwood, Ill., native Sgt. Jarrod R. Holmes, Deployed Security Interdiction Device chief, A Co.

“Our proxies and firewalls [in Iraq] are so strict that my wife couldn’t even send me a picture of herself because pretty much everything coming through is being screened,” he said.

Mims elaborated by saying the traditional threats on networks in the United States – spam, viruses and pop-ups – are virtually eliminated in Iraq by the data security in place on the networks.

The battalion, including the advance party, is due to rotate back to U.S. soil in the spring of 2006.