VTC helps II MEF families communicate

12 Dec 2006 | Lance Cpl. Christopher Lyttle

Video teleconferencing is a means of communication between two or more locations with audio and visual transmission. It is technology the Marine Corps uses as a practical means to plan operations, and when time permits, keep loved ones in touch.

Occasionally, deployed bases are capable of setting up video teleconferencing with units on the home front. Second Radio Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force, welcomed 14 families to talk to their loved ones, Dec. 12 in midst of the Marines’ demanding agendas overseas.

Capt. J.T. Dellos, communications officer, 2nd Radio Bn., II MEF, his wife and children were recently able to interact with each other while he is currently performing duties at Camp Fallujah, Iraq. Dellos’ children were in high spirits, attending their second VTC with their father.

“We first did a VTC in October after my husband left for Iraq in July. The first time, it seemed unfamiliar to the kids because they had never done a teleconference before,” Dellos’ wife said.

After one teleconference call, the Dellos’ discovered how easy and convenient the process was when they talked as a family.

“This time it was easier to use because they knew what to expect. It’s a great way to connect and the kids really enjoy it,” she said.

Brian W. Ames, VTC coordinator, II MEF, said the benefits of VTC include troop morale, however, they span beyond that, enabling mission objectives as well.

“VTC provides a means of face-to-face interaction with several persons at the same time from disparate locations,” Ames said. “It’s a method of conducting virtual meetings without the added complexity and cost of travel, which results in a more efficient use of manpower. This technology has been popular among corporate and distance education institutions and is gaining popularity in the Marine Corps.”

Ames described how this up and coming technology is comparable to a live meeting.

“The operation is pretty user-friendly and is similar to a regular meeting. The biggest difference I’ve noticed from observation is the delay. Although very slight, it’s noticeable to participants and requires patience and adjustment,” Ames said.

Gunnery Sgt. Jennifer L. Tate, Family Readiness staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge, 2nd Radio Bn., II MEF, described the benefits of VTC within her unit.

“VTC capability is a valuable tool for both the unit and the families to communicate with deployed units,” said Tate. This was our second opportunity to coordinate a conference with Marines in Iraq so family members could speak with their loved ones.”

Tate added that VTC is likely to be used for their future deployments, and should it become more readily available in the Marine Corps, would benefit several other units as a technologically advanced type of communication.