CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, Ar Ramadi, Iraq -- If there’s one Marine to ask about what’s going on in the 2nd Marine Division, it’s Cpl. Christopher Xavier Bowman. He’s got the scoop on all the action.
Bowman, a common picture manager, provides a direct link to real-time action on the battlefield to the general and his staff. On a daily basis, the division’s subordinate commands submit reports to the headquarters here and Bowman compiles that information for the division.
By virtue of his military occupational specialty and rank, the 21-year-old Madison, Tenn., native, has become the man in charge of the Command and Control Personal Computer system, which tracks all troop movements and locations.
“I’m a bona fide computer geek” proclaimed Bowman, a 2002 Hunter’s Lane High School graduate. “I like it because I get to see everything that happens first”
Bowman has a no nonsense approach to his work. After all, he’s dealing with some very serious information that will be used by commanders to make decisions that shape the course of operations here.
“Everything that goes on inside the combat operations center is classified ‘Secret’ or higher. That kind of sensitive information cannot be taken lightly.”
This is Bowman’s first deployment for Operation Iraqi Freedom and he’s doing everything he can to make the most of his experience. He wants to walk away from this deployment and look back at it as a learning experience – just like he did for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan this time last year.
“I’ve always been interested in computers, but I never had any formal training,” said Bowman, whose small, ovular spectacles, belonging to a scholar, is in direct contrast to his more than six feet tall presence. “The Marine Corps has given me everything I need to be confident to take on any computer job within my scope of expertise.”
He puts his newfound expertise to use assisting the Marines junior to him.
“First and foremost, I’m a leader and mentor to my junior Marines,” added Bowman.
Bowman plans to add to the knowledge he has gained by continuing his college education while deployed here in the desert. It’s a challenge few take on, but for him it’s worth it and he believes his command will benefit as well.
“I’m looking into taking some online courses at U.C. Berkley,” said Bowman. “It’s got one of the best programs for computer education in the nation and while I’m active duty it’s free.”
Bowman has a different view of computers than the average person might. While most people see a webpage, he sees the information and contemplates the method in which the next generation of war will be waged.
“Who knows, we could see something like a cyber-nine-eleven in the future,” said Bowman. “I just finished reading a science fiction book where a computer took over a power grid and decimated an entire city.”
He occupies himself in his free time reading books about technology and science fiction. He says it helps him proof read and edit the reports before he posts them.
“Reading keeps me sharp,” said Bowman. “I prefer proof reading and editing because I like to make sure things are accurate before they’re posted.”
Bowman takes great pride in the accuracy of his work, but he knows that no matter how well he does his job, computers have a way of their own. And things can quickly come crashing down.
“The design and execution of our computer systems leaves me in awe,” said Bowman. “I firmly believe computers will have a greater role in future warfare. Anyone can see the cutting edge technology we’re already using like unmanned surveillance aircraft.”
Bowman plans to enter college full time when he ends his active service next summer. His plans are to continue what he started in the Corps and build off of that foundation.
“There’s just so much out there; what I’d really like to get into is network security,” said Bowman. “So in the meantime, I’m going to take advantage of my situation and learn everything I can in the time I have left.”