Marines test equipment capability to improve overseas communication

1st Marine Logistics Group
Story by Cpl. Michele Watson

Date: 06.28.2011
Posted: 07.07.2011 11:22
News ID: 73360
Marines test equipment capability to improve overseas communication

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Marines with Communication Detachment, Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 1st Marine Logistics Group, tested out one of the supporting wide area network dishes to determine the capabilities of long-range communications.

Currently, the small dish provides communication capabilities by connecting to larger dishes that are used by units aboard Camp Pendleton. The larger dishes then send radio waves to a satellite 22,000 miles away that then connects to landlines.

The recent exercise aims to connect the small dish directly to the satellite which then transfers data to Camp Rogers, located in central California. The direct connections will cut out the need to use the larger networks within other units aboard base.

If successful, the smaller dish will increase mobility within the MLG.

“It makes smaller sized units more expeditionary and self-sustaining,” said Cpl. David R. Decker, data chief, Comm. Det., CLB-15, 1st MLG.

While efforts to make smaller dishes more capable have been tried before, the communications detachment continues to improve its abilities. The actual connection between the dish and satellite is affected by multiple factors including polarization, azimuth, elevation changes and weather.

“Because of the weather conditions, getting our dish to connect to the satellite is the hardest part,” said Cpl. Matthew C. Foster, tactical data network administrator, Comm. Det., CLB-15, 1st MLG. “Everything has to be perfect. There are some days when you can get a connection in a thunderstorm and some days where a small whip of clouds will block the radio waves.”

Though it is not a simple task, the group will continue their efforts in the hope that success will improve mobility overseas.

“It will enable units to carry a smaller network package with the ability to provide land services to our users with less equipment,” said Decker, 23, a native of Lexington, Ky.

Decker also said it’s important to keep trying over time, regardless of the results.

“Just because it doesn’t work right away, that does not mean it doesn’t work,” said Decker. “It’s incredibly complex but not really any different than getting a cell phone connection.”