ZEIMER, Iraq --
ZEIMER, Iraq– In today’s logistically intensive War on Terror, the ability to efficiently communicate is critical to mission success.
Relaying an enemy position to adjacent units, calling in possible improvised explosive devises, or attempting to track a company’s patrol through Iraq’s streets could not be accomplished without the skill and knowledge of a Marine field radio operator. Marines like Cpl. Carl Barnett, a field radio operator with Company A, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, are responsible for the management of this critical asset.
“The Marine Corps is beyond the days of hand and arm signals,” explained Barnett, 22, from Crossett, Ark. “It must be able to relay time sensitive and pertinent information to adjacent units.”
The responsibilities of these operators go beyond the average field radio. They are in charge of all point-to-point communications, satellite communications, ultra high frequency (UHF), very high frequency (VHF), and high frequency (HF) radio communication. Their equipment ranges from handheld radios used for small-unit communication to satellites capable of reaching air support hundreds of miles away.
“On the battlefield, communication is every thing; it is a must,” said First Sgt. Richard L. Gammon, Company A First Sergeant. “Without the asset (the operators) provide the mission would crumble.”
Gammon said though the company may be able to function without field radio operators, essential and mission critical aspects of the company would not function properly.
Marines also rely on communicators to call in possible casualty evacuations, intelligence updates, current position reports, and all other pertinent operational information.
Besides mastering each communications system, the operator must have the knowledge to accurately relay pertinent information using the proper radio procedures; an ability that should be second nature to them, said Gammon.
The field radio operator’s job starts well before combat operations begin. They must ensure their equipment is properly maintained and that all radios have the correct encryption to accurately receive and send transmissions.
“No one leaves the confined safety of the base without working communication,” explained Barnett. “If something were to happen (the combat operation center) would have no way of knowing without communication.”
Some Marines would venture to say that field radio operators hold one of the most important jobs in Iraq, but regardless of opinion, it is clear that without them the timely transfer of information would falter.