Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines --
An imperative order travels from the commanding officer to the men on the front lines, sending the command to advance the troops. Without the Marines working long hours behind the scene creating and maintaining that capability, the orders from the commanding officer would have never made it, compromising the entire mission’s completion.
Marines with Communications Detachment, Command Element, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit operate vital communications capabilities during the annual Philippine Bilateral Amphibious Landing Exercise here, Oct. 14.
The Communications Detachment for the 31st MEU supplies the Command Element a wide range of communication capabilities. The different capabilities give the commanding officer the ability to communicate with the different elements within the 31st MEU.
“We provide the commanding officer the means to command and control his subordinate commands,” said Maj. Todd O’Brien, the S-6 with Command Element, 31st MEU, and a native of Dallas, Texas. “Without the capabilities we supply, the commanding officer would be limited.”
Using several satellites, radios and antennas the Communications Detachment supplies both unsecure and secure lines for communication. These capabilities reach out to both the ship and to the Marines on the ground.
One of the pieces of equipment supplying the capability of a secure video conference is the ANTSC-156C Phoenix. This large satellite is attached to the top of a Humvee, allowing transportation a quick, easy process. The Swan V-2 is set-up on the ground, giving the Marines long distance radio capabilities. This satellite takes more time to set-up and take down, but is more cost effective, allowing the unit to employ more.
“I really enjoy being a part of the communications detachment and working with the equipment,” said Lance Cpl. Luis Pena, a field radio operator with the Communications Detachment, Command Element, 31st MEU, and a native of Fort Myers, Florida. “I like knowing that I am an essential part of all of the moving parts within the MEU during these exercises. In the rear, we often do not get the chance to do our job like this.”
The Marines are able to use this experience to improve their capabilities while deployed for PHIBLEX.
“This is pretty much where the rubber meets the road,” said Gunnery Sgt. Anthony Arce, the communications chief for the Command Element, 31st MEU and a native of Hemet, Calif. “This is a real world exercise and it gets them used to having to deal with situations where there is no room for error.”
The Marines and Sailors of the 31st MEU are conducting the 29th iteration of the Philippine Bilateral Amphibious Landing Exercise alongside their Philippine Marine counterparts in order to improve the two forces’ interoperability and strengthen their long standing relationship.
The 31st MEU will continue to train alongside the Philippine Marines and soldiers throughout the two week exercise, integrating the skills gained here into future operations. The 31st MEU is the only continuously forward-deployed MEU and is the Marine Corps’ force in readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.