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31st MEU conducts exercise to prepare for Talisman Saber '09

29 May 2009 | Lance Cpl. Antwain J. Graham

Marines with the S-6, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit's Communications Platoon, conducted a communications exercise May 11-13 in preparation for the MEU's participation in Talisman Saber 2009 in Australia this July.

During the COMMEX, Marines trained with the new Phoenix Satellite Terminal network, which they will use at TS-09, in order to become familiar and proficient with this new equipment.

During the exercise, the Marines performed jump control post drills which haven't been practiced or used by the MEU Command Element for over two years. As part of the MEU's capabilities, they must become capable in the establishment and employment of jump command post communications, according to Maj. Daryl Hurst, the communications officer for 31st MEU.

During a jump command post drill, Marines set up satellite and radio equipment in a specific area and establish communication with the command element.

Once this is accomplished, at the commander's order, the Marines must quickly break down their equipment and prepare to move to another position before they are located by the enemy. They are constantly moving as a result.

"We must be able to set up in 30 minutes or less and tear in down in 20,"

said Hurst. "As a communications unit, we can't afford to be slow."

"It's important that the commander can keep contact with other command elements," Hurst said. "Also, most of the Marines here have never done a jump command post drill before, so this training will make sure they are ready for the deployment."

For the COMMEX, the jumps were conducted on Camps Hansen, Schwab, Courtney and Foster, and at White Beach Naval Facility.

"We use the different sites to simulate the distance between each location which makes it more difficult to gain communication with other command elements," said Cpl. Clinton L. Mutter, a radio operator with the MEU's Communication Platoon.

Hurst said The COMMEX will continue with a capability set evolution which will consist of inventorying, familiarization and signing for new equipment that the MEU will use during TS-09.

The 31st MEU is a rapid-response force capable of conducting conventional amphibious and selected maritime special operations at night or under adverse weather conditions from the sea, by surface and/or by air while under communications and electronics restrictions.

TS-09 is a joint military operation in Australia, that will exercise a single Combined Task Force, focusing on operational and tactical interoperability through a high end, medium intensity scenario involving live, virtual, and constructive forces.

31st Marine Expeditionary Unit