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Muxsters keep communications flowing throughout Iraq

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200552175934
Story by Cpl. Rocco DeFilippis

AL ASAD, Iraq (May 21, 2005) -- In today’s Marine Corps, communication between the separate entities is essential for planning and executing operations. The ability of units to communicate across the vast expanses of Iraq becomes crucial to operations throughout the country.

The Marines of Marine Wing Communication Squadron 28’s multi-channel radio operators platoon ensure the constant flow of data throughout the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) area of operations.

The multi-channel radio, or MUX, operators allow service members at outlying posts to communicate with higher headquarters here and throughout the area of operations.

“We provide the ability for everything from tactical data transfer to non-secure telephone,” said Lance Cpl. Ryan J. Tower, multi-channel radio operator and native of Parsippany, N.J. “We allow the distant ends to communicate.”

Basically, communications Marines in a forward operating base combine all the forms of communications, internet and phones, into one signal through a process called multiplexing.

Satellite transmitters then bounce the signal off the troposphere, a layer of the atmosphere that extends 46,000 feet above ground. The MUX Marines here receive the combined signal and route it to another section in MWCS-28 who decodes it and passes it on to the agencies within the wing who need it to plan and coordinate the mission.

“Because the MAW is spread throughout Iraq, open lines of communication are essential,” said Sgt. Michael T. Fitzgerald, multi-channel radio operator and native of Owensboro, Ky. “Without the capabilities we provide, Marines out there could not coordinate air and ground support, plan and track missions or even make a phone call home.”

One of the challenges the Marines face is the fact that the troposphere adjusts throughout the day. In order to get maximum efficiency for transmission the equipment must be able to reach the troposphere.

“The troposphere lowers each night,” said Lance Cpl. Bradley E. Ellis, multi-channel radio operator and native of Bismark, Ill. “We have to adjust the signal and the equipment to ensure the data continues to flow.”

In addition to providing communication to remote areas, the Marines of the MUX platoon allow units across Al Asad to communicate with the command center here.

The communications Marines use the transmitters to provide wireless communication here.

“Instead of having to run miles of wire or fiber optic cable, our equipment provides wireless avenues of communication across the air base,” Tower said. “Not only do we ensure Marines hundreds of miles away can communicate with the command center, but Marines on the other side of the base too.”

As operations continue throughout the Marine Corps’ area of responsibility, the efforts of the communications community remain paramount to the success of the mission. From MUX and wire, to radio, data and maintenance — each section ensures the communications light is green.

“[In communications,] everyone has their part,” said Staff Sgt. JohnDavid S. Acuff, MUX staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge and native of Kings Mountain, N.C. “Each part is equally important — because without each piece, the entire chain will go down.”

“The whole point is to support the Marines on the ground,” Ellis said. “We take great pride in our job, knowing that what we do allows the MAW to perform like it does each day.”


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