MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTRYNINE PALMS, Calif. – Most Marines use the internet and radio frequencies for multiple purposes each day. In combat situations, Marines use different types of radios to call medical evacuations, logistical resupplies or just get a simple radio check before stepping out on a patrol.
What is often over-looked, are the full capabilities of the radio systems they carry and the Marines who ensure that day-to-day communication is possible.
The Marines serving with the Communication Platoon, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, brought a new array of capabilities to the unit by using both the ANPRC-117G, a wideband tactical radio and the Support Wide Area Network program. The systems provide the unit with advanced forms of communication while conducting an integrated training exercise here.
The ITX is a month long training event the Marines go through prior to deployment, and the Marines of Comm. Plt., provided communication throughout the entire exercise.
Individually the AN/PRC-117G can attach to a laptop to send data and pictures to one another, and it allows the Marines to chat with one another, said Cpl. Grant Moulden, a field radio operator serving with Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.
“If a scout sniper is deployed and he comes across someone doing something wrong like burying an improvised explosive device he can connect this lightweight radio unit to a laptop and send photos and data back to his command,” said Moulden, 22, a native of Muscoutah, Kan. “Then the sniper can talk to his command about how to deal with the hostile target.”
Also, something that most people do not know about the AN/PRC-117G is that it has a second capability that uses the Adaptive Networking Wideband Waveform, commonly known as ANW2, to supply the Marines with internet capabilities, Moulden added.
While the AN/PRC-117G is impressive, the (SWAN) adds even more capabilities to the unit.
The (SWAN) is an integrated, IP-based communications system that uses commercial satellite terminals, network baseband equipment, wireless systems and various software to provide deployed Marines with robust communications capabilities.
“Alone the (SWAN) pulls internet access from our communications headquarters through specific pre-determined satellites and into our computer,” said Cpl. Steven Rice, a data network specialist, serving with the battalion. “Then we add a switch that allows us to push the internet to our other computers near us using CAT 5 cables (category 5 unshielded twisted pair cables).
When both these two types of gear are working together it allows the Marines to do even more.
When hooked to the (SWAN), this radio pulls internet connection from the satellite through the (SWAN) and into the AN/PRC-117G, Moulden said. Then it distributes the non-classified internet protocol network (NIPR) and secret classified internet protocol network (SIPR) to neighboring computers in the network.
“It really is a fascinating piece of gear to work with because you can be in the middle of no-where and pull internet in places where you can’t get phone service,” said Rice, 22, from Littleton, Colo. “Overall it is an awesome piece of gear to have especially when you bring the two together.”