Photo Information

Haditha, Al Anbar, Iraq (June 9, 2005) - The D-DACT, the newest technological weapon on the war on terrorism.. (Official USMC photo by Cpl. Ken Melton)

Photo by Cpl. Ken Melton

3/25 train with new tracking system

29 Jun 2005 | Cpl. Ken Melton 2nd Marine Division

Marines with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment recently began training with the Dismounted Data Automated Communication Terminal (D-DACT), a personnel tracking system that is the next step in technological warfare in the war on terrorism. The D-DACT is a handheld system that allows global positioning, digital map routes, overlays, messaging and automatic injection of unit location to the level of the squad leader, according to the AN/PSC-13 Operator’s Guidebook. “This is the first time this piece of equipment has been used in the field,” said Lance Cpl. Aron M. Kluk-Barany, a system analyst with Marine Corps Tactical System Support Activity and a trainer for the class. “We are here to teach these Marines how to use the system so they can in turn teach it to others who will use it in the field.” The D-DACT allows the ground units to see the battlefield, their position and the enemy’s position. It also uses satellite imagery that can be used to see people and structures. “During the four day class, we discussed the ins-and-outs of this system and explained all the advantages of it,” said the 21-year-old Cleveland Heights, Ohio native. “We worked with the trainers and watched them start the beginning training phases with other Marines, and answered any questions about the system that were brought up.” The students and future instructors took an immediate liking to the system and were eager to learn as much as they could in a short amount of time. “It’s like having a digital map in the palm of your hand,” said Sgt. Daniel J. Byrnes, a student/instructor for the course, and a radio watch supervisor for 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines communication section. “You can create overlay symbols for future and current ops and send them to other D-DACTs.” Creating overlays is just one of the many useful features of this system. Using the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio Systems (SINCGARS), users can plan maneuvers, determine troop locations, call for medevac, resupply, fire support, and give situation reports. It also has a text message function that allows users to keep in communication with other users in the field. “The text messaging feature is one of the most useful features and it will cut down on the radio chatter,” said the 27-year-old Strongsville, Ohio, native. “It will update your position every few minutes and you can send all information up to higher headquarters also.” Even though the system is user friendly and easy to learn, it still has a few setbacks. “The connecting cables between the SINCGARS and the D-DACT are hard to connect and the size of the maps fills up the memory card quickly (1GB),” said Lance Cpl. Sean M. Hathaway, a radio operator, and student/instructor in the class. “It also has no communication with the Blue Force Tracker system (a vehicle mounted system similar to the D-DACT).” “The system is still in its early stages, but it’s still really useful and by testing it in the field, I know that it will only get better.” As the class concluded, the excitement of being able to teach the system to the lower echelon units on the battlefield was mounting. “This is a great addition for infantry units,” Byrnes said with excitement in his voice. “This is but another weapon that will help save more troops’ lives and crush the enemies. You’ve got to love technology!”