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Cpl. Alex J. Joursey, a construction wireman with 9th Communications Battalion, attached to the Camp Baharia Technical Control Facility, prepares a pedestal for new telephone service at Camp Baharia, Iraq, Jan. 1. Field wiremen set up a commercialized telephone system on the camp that improved Defense Switched Network capabilities.

Photo by Cpl. Chris T. Mann

Making the switch

5 Jan 2009 | Cpl. Chris T. Mann 1st Marine Division

Field wiremen with Communications Technical Control Facility Detachment, a joint unit made up of Marines from Regimental Combat Team 1 and 9th Communications Battalion, set up a new multifaceted digital switch on Camp Baharia, recently.

 The new switch was part of a larger scale commercialization project to enable personnel aboard the camp with improved Defense Switched Networking, which provides worldwide non-secure voice, secure voice, and facsimile services for the DOD. 

 Staff Sgt. Jarris D. Mayfield, the detachment’s communications chief from High Point, N.C., said he and other Marines with the detachment spent months coordinating with other communication elements and adjacent units across a large area of operations to make the switch as seamless as possible.

The Marines’ efforts helped to provide a successful migration to the new switch from a smaller, less capable one to support the growing number of personnel on the camp.

Service members from nearby Camp Fallujah and others serving throughout the city relocated here as part of Coalition forces’ plan to reposition into strategic overwatch. The number of service members living on the camp has more than doubled from the approximately 1200 living here prior to the move.

 Because of their coordination efforts, it “took only a total of three hours to reestablish communication between units across the entire AO and have all users fully operational,” said Mayfield.

“The (short) amount of time that it took us to install the new switch is completely unheard of, and wouldn’t have been possible without all the hard work and dedication that our Marines put into the project,” he said.

 During the months leading up to the migration, the Marines worked two shifts to run nearly 60,000 feet of new communication wire and test termination points around the camp.

 “The process was very time consuming, to test all the circuits on the switch, and our office sounded like it was receiving phone calls all day long,” said Cpl. Michael J. Ruiz, a 25-year-old switchboard operator from Cuero, Texas, with the detachment.

After installing the new switch, the wiremen assigned new telephone numbers to all of the camp’s existing phones lines and installed new lines where they were needed.

 “Commercialized switching is a fairly new thing for the Marine Corps, and everyone here worked really hard to get this thing set up,” said Ruiz.

The Camp Baharia Communications Technical Control Facility is the first successful Joint System Control Site at the regimental and battalion level. With a joining effort between Marines from 9th Communication Bn. and RCT-1, this hybrid team supports commercialized capabilities for Camp Baharia and a majority of RCT-1’s area of operations.

1st Marine Division