MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Through rain and shine, darkness and light, the Marines from Company B, 8th Communications Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force, make sure they keep the lines of communication open between commanders and units. What they do is of the utmost importance. Without communications needed by commanders to launch the next move on the battlefield, entire regiments and squadrons can be rendered useless.
Radio operators with 8th Comm. intend to prevent that from happening through training, testing their equipment and repetition of their standard operating procedures—evident during a recent II MEF exercise conducted in preparation for the command’s deployment to Al Anbar province, Iraq, next year.
“We maintain basic, single channel communications involved in the exercise,” said Sgt. Jerry J. Tames, multichannel operator and noncommissioned officer-in-charge for one of the radio testing sites. “We do this so we can prove we can maintain the links between commands and various units, and it makes good training for the Marines.”
Having served six years in the Marine Corps, Tames has experienced countless training exercises and operations involving the use of communications systems. Yet, the training serves well for younger Marines who have recently entered the Corps.
“I’ve learned how to manage communications systems I wasn’t able to learn in communications school,” said Pfc. John W. Topping, single-channel radio operator with 8th Comm. “Something else we’ve learned from the training is troubleshooting radios that are not allowing us to communicate with other stations.”
As the battalion prepares for its eventual deployment to Iraq early next year, any additional participation in military exercises involving communication gear is helpful to those scheduled to deploy.
“We learned the basics at communications school,” said Pfc. Christy A. Miller, single-channel radio operator with less than a year of service under her belt. “Here, the training is more hands-on versus what we had learned at school. I think it will be more beneficial when we deploy.”
The battalion’s role in Iraq will be important to the mission of the Marine Corps. They will be responsible for maintaining the links between the command and various air and ground combat units engaging the enemy.
The Marines know the importance of the role they will play in keeping everyone in touch.
“We work with everybody,” said Tames. “That way when we deploy to Iraq, we’ll have no hiccups.”