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Sgt. Chris M. Bess, site manager for Support Wide Area Network and Wireless Point to Point Link training exercise, Communications Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 27, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, assembles the dish that connects the Master Reference Terminal to satellites, giving commanders vital internet, email and telephone capabilities. The Marines of 2nd Communications Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 27, 2nd Marine Logistics Group trained with the systems Feb. 24, 2010 aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., to train ensure proficiency with both systems. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Meghan J. Canlas)

Photo by Cpl. Meghan J. Canlas

Keeping communications strong

26 Feb 2010 | Cpl. Meghan J. Canlas

Wars could not be fought without communication.  It’s rumored that one of the downfalls of Napoleon Bonaparte was his terrible handwriting; his officers misunderstood the written orders and failed to execute them properly.  Imagine what the battle of Iwo Jima would have been like without communication.  The Tet offensive?  Fallujah?  Ever since the inception of the Marine Corps, Marines have been known for their ability to receive and carry out orders efficiently and effectively.  To keep this warfighting practice alive, Marines of Communication Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 27, 2nd Marine Logistics Group stay busy keeping the lines communication open.

The Marines trained aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 24 with the Support Wide Area Network and Wireless Point to Point Link to ensure proficiency with the systems that keep commanders connected to their units with internet, e-mail and telephone services while deployed.

Cpl. Kenneth V. Holvenstot, one of the training instructors with Comm. Co., said he’s seen the problems that occur with a lack of training and tries to ensure all the Marines are proficient with both systems.

“A lot of the Marines don’t have basic SWAN knowledge, so we’re going with simple steps,” he said.  “We’re teaching them proper setup, how to access the satellite and trouble shooting.  Sort of the crawl, walk, run method.”

Both systems can be used for all three communication services, but there are pro and cons to both.

“SWANS are more reliable, and because they use satellites we can set them up anywhere no matter how far apart [forward operating bases] are,” said Sgt. Chris M. Bess, the site manager for the exercise.  “WPPLs are faster than SWANS, but they can only reach 50-miles and require line of sight.”

Both the SWAN and WPPL act as a sort of wireless internet router.  In the same way that multiple computers can access the internet by connecting to the same router, multiple SWANs receive services by connecting to the Master Reference Terminal which connects to satellites.

“We consider SWANs to be a sort of hub and spoke system,” said Bess.  “The MRT is the hub and each SWAN is another spoke.”

With the Marine Corps presence in so many different theaters of operation, the SWAN and WPPL remain invaluable assets.


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