News: Marines keep up-to-date with new communications systems
Story by Cpl. Kenneth Jasik
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – With the constant improvement of new technologies, communications throughout the Marine Corps are becoming faster and more secure. One of these technologies, the Support Wide Area Network, is a series of antennas that communicate via satellite. It’s more advanced than older systems, which require a straight line with no obstructions between the two points of contact to be successful.
To remain current on the evolving technologies, Marines with 1st Marine Logistics Group participated in a class to learn how to set up, operate and troubleshoot SWAN communication antennas here, Aug. 3.
“Our SWANs are getting upgraded,” said Gunnery Sgt. Franklin N. Nash, staff noncommissioned officer in charge, Data Platoon, Communications Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st MLG. “It allows us to network over the horizon, as opposed to line of sight where you would need to see the next point you’re communicating with,” added Nash, 43, from Albion, N.Y.
The network is key for Marines in scenes similar to Afghanistan, in which small forward operating bases are spread out across the area of operation. The antennas connect via satellite and are able to stay within constant communication with each other.
“If you’re really far away, you can’t just run a cable, but with this you can send your signal to another place using satellites,” said Pfc. Raudel Avila, data communications technician, Communications Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st MLG.
According to Nash, the Marines were able to set up and start operating a smaller satellite antenna in less than an hour and a larger satellite in fewer than two hours.
“This gives us the capability to drop anywhere in the world and pull communications from the satellite and have real-world internet in a short amount of time,” said Nash.
According to Nash, who has spent years in military communications, things are constantly changing , which is why it is important to keep up-to-date on the latest technologies.
“Fortunately, most of the Marines I have here are brand new and fresh out of school,” said Nash. “We’re able to show them the basics. This is one of the rare [military occupational specialties] where everything changes so fast you have to be humble because coming out of the school, they might know more than you.”
Nash also added that the SWAN training was a good opportunity for everyone involved to brush up on their skills.
The training helped to build the confidence of the Marines who will operate the new equipment in the future and very likely, use the new technology while forward deployed in Afghanistan.
“I didn’t know anything about SWANs before and now I feel good about using these,” said Avila, 19, from Chicago.