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Comms Are Up: Marines' HF Training
by U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Demetrius Morgan - September 24, 2015

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GILA BEND, Ariz. – Effective communication can be the difference between success and failure for the Marine Corps during any operation. It is essential for Marines to understand how to use a variety of assets in order to communicate anywhere, anytime.

From Aug. 23-28, 2015 ... Marines with 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, I Marine Expeditionary Force, teamed up with Marines from various battalions within the 1st Marine Division including 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Bn., 11th Marine Regiment and 1st Reconnaissance Bn. to conduct high frequency communication training aboard Air Force Base Gila Bend, Arizona.

Marines with 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, I Marine Expeditionary Force work together with personnel with various units in 1st Marine Division, in the course of a period of instruction on radio waves during a high frequency communications training exercise aboard Air Force Base Gila Bend, Ariz., Aug. 24, 2015. Marines from different units within I MEF worked together to practice operating different types of communications assets in the HF circuit in order to improve their skills. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Demetrius Morgan)
Marines with 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, I Marine Expeditionary Force work together with personnel with various units in 1st Marine Division, in the course of a period of instruction on radio waves during a high frequency communications training exercise aboard Air Force Base Gila Bend, Ariz., Aug. 24, 2015. Marines from different units within I MEF worked together to practice operating different types of communications assets in the HF circuit in order to improve their skills. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Demetrius Morgan)

“As a whole, we have gotten away from HF [high frequency] communications, which is one of the essential parts to comm,” said Master Sgt. Brian Moran, communications chief with 1st ANGLICO.

Moran added it is necessary for these Marines to understand how to operate proficiently in the HF circuit in order to provide the essential communications needed for mission success. He also added that this exercise allowed Marines who haven't worked with HF often to improve their skillsets.

The training was two-fold. The first priority was ensuring Marines were skilled in working with HF communications and the other was reinforcing the integration of multiple units to accomplish a goal.

Division Marines trained alongside the adjacent units from I MEF to maximize the training. Although they were from different units, Marines like Sgt. Ethaniel Rock, a reconnaissance man with 1st Recon Bn. saw the importance of being able to integrate with other teams during the training.

“It is great to build cohesion between different units and learn how other Marines handle things like communications,” Rock said. “Being able to work with people you don't know and work effectively is important for us because we get attached to different units all the time. Putting our knowledge together builds the junior Marines' knowledge and makes them advanced communications Marines.”

Marines participated in HF communication classes taught by more experienced personnel from both Division and MEF during the first phase of their training. They also conducted operation checks on all communication equipment to ensure the programming was working properly prior to the practical application.

Marines then started the more difficult portion of the exercise. To test the communications equipment and the operating skills of the Marines, a scenario was developed to provide feedback on these two elements.

While traveling in a vehicle toward an objective located 50 miles from the airfield team, Marines would stop every 5 miles to set up and establish communication back to the team, ensuring a successful relay of messages was accomplished, then packing up and pushing further until reaching the final location.

“In a combat environment, you are going to be put in situations that aren't ideal,” Moran said. “Stopping at multiple points with different types of terrain makes it so the Marines have to adjust on-the-fly based on where they are.”

After establishing communication from the 50-mile objective point and sending a simulated battle damage assessment photo to the distant station, the Marines progressed even further and were successful with relaying both data messages and voice messages to the airfield team from 81 miles away, accomplishing the tasks required for this test.

Over the course of the exercise, the Marines not only successfully hit their mark during the culminating event but they completed multiple periods of instruction, set up communications from various terrain and even received transmissions from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, located 350-miles away, which exceeded even Moran's expectations.

This training provided the Marines an opportunity to hone the necessary skills and mindset required to be successful at operating HF voice and data circuits.

By U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Demetrius Morgan
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2015

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