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    Data Marines wire battalion for success in Operation Eastern Storm

    Data Marines wire battalion for success in Operation Eastern Storm

    Photo By Sgt. Marco Mancha | Marion, Ill., native Lance Cpl. Kevin Kueck is one of the many data network...... read more read more

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE WHITE HOUSE, HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN

    11.02.2011

    Story by Cpl. Marco Mancha 

    II Marine Expeditionary Force

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE WHITE HOUSE, Helmand province, Afghanistan -- Communication is key when conducting combat operations, as units coordinate movements and support along the way to continue their progress and work toward mission accomplishment. Coalition and Afghan National Security Forces have been no exception during Operation Tofan Sharq (Eastern Storm), a major offensive operation to root out the Taliban-led insurgency in the Upper Sangin Valley region of Kajaki. Marines in the Data and Communications section of 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, have worked tirelessly to establish and maintain communications throughout the operation.

    The Data and Communications Marines faced an uphill battle from the beginning, as the unit began the operation in Sangin and pushed north along Route 611 to secure the road leading to the once-terrorized village. A fire team of data Marines inserted with Weapons Company, 1/6, tasked to set up a re-transmission site, or communication site, for the Marines on the move.

    Nothing set this group of data specialists apart from the rest of the infantrymen -- they wore the same uniform, carried the same weapons systems, and tread through the same dusty roads, carrying more than 150 pounds worth of gear.

    “What was most impressive for me was when we took contact (from insurgents) on the road,” said 24-year-old 1st Lt. Benjamin Dulieu, the 1/6 communications officer and Suffolk University graduate.

    “My Marines engaged without hesitation and were still able to accomplish their mission seamlessly and without complaints.”

    The Warwick, R.I., native is in charge of more than 30 Marines spread across the Upper Sangin Valley. The majority of his Marines, though, are currently working out of FOB White House to provide the optimum communications service capabilities for the continued success of Operation Eastern Storm. Data supervisor Cpl. Nijal Dunn recalls setting up nearly a dozen computers in the confined space of two Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles when they first arrived at the forward operating base. The Atlanta native with the unit immediately went to work just a few days into the operation by helping set up one of the fastest and toughest jobs he said he’s ever faced.

    “Setting up work spaces for the whole battalion was definitely going to be a challenge,” said Dunn, 24. “Those computers in the two trucks were definitely not going to be enough for the operation. We were already working on something much bigger.”

    The data Marines finally had everything they needed aboard the base after being established just a week prior. Dunn and the rest of the data Marines wasted no time getting to work.

    It didn’t take long before eight tents were filled with more than 100 operable computers and 16,000 feet of fiber optic cable was tunneled throughout the base. It took them less than three days to make all the support sections and Combat Operations Center fully operational and connected to the Internet and e-mail.

    “It seems like everyone needs a computer these days,” said Dunn. “The Marine Corps depends heavily on communications, and with operations like these, it’s a necessity because of all the planning and coordination that goes into it. That’s why we worked so hard to get all those computers up and running as soon as possible.”

    The Data and Communications Marines are now turning their attention to maintaining the vast network they established, a round-the-clock job to keep it up and running.

    Lance Cpl. Kevin Kueck is one of the many data network specialists with the unit working to keep the hundreds of connections operational. The Marion, Ill., native works on everything from slow Internet connections to the occasional complete system failure of a computer.

    “During the daytime, we can do anything from running more lines for new users to basic trouble calls,” said the 20-year-old Kueck. “We do our best to provide the unit with the best connectivity because (the Marines and sailors) depend on us to keep doing their jobs.”

    For more information concerning Task Force Leatherneck operations, please contact Task Force Leatherneck public affairs officer Maj. Bradley Gordon at bradley.gordon@afg.usmc.mil.

    Editor’s Note: First Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division (Forward)/Task Force Leatherneck. Task Force Leatherneck serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 11.02.2011
    Date Posted: 11.02.2011 10:56
    Story ID: 79421
    Location: FORWARD OPERATING BASE WHITE HOUSE, HELMAND PROVINCE, AF

    Web Views: 627
    Downloads: 1

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