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Photo by Cpl. Rocco DeFilippis

Muxsters keep communications flowing throughout Iraq

21 May 2005 | Cpl. Rocco DeFilippis

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.”

*For more information about the Marines or news reported on in this
story, please contact Cpl. Rocco DeFilippis by e-mail at defilippisrc@acemnf-
wiraq.usmc.mil*
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