CAMP AL QA’IM, Iraq -- It can be said communications is one of the central ingredients of modern combat operations in Iraq. Marines must be able to communicate with one another through the use of secure technology in order to plan, coordinate and execute missions vital to the success of the overall mission here.
This is where Sgt. Leonard C. Murray, tactical data networker and data chief, Communications Platoon, Headquarters & Service Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, comes in.
Working with a team of eight Marines, Murray’s responsibility is management of the communications networks on Camp Al Qa’im and various battle positions Marines of the battalion operate from.
“I’m in charge of various networks to include NIPR, SIPR and the EPLARS,” said the 33-year-old native of Chicago’s South Side, referring to the internet protocol routing network, the secure internet protocol routing network and the enhanced position and locating reporting system.
“We build it as we go and it’s constantly growing. We have to run the wire and have to monitor it,” Murray said.
His job also takes him out of Camp Al Qa’im. On a routine basis, Murray and the Marines under his charge head out to the various battle positions to install and troubleshoot the EPLARS, Enhanced Precision Locating And Reporting System.
“The EPLARS is a redundant link between the (battle positions) and the headquarters,” said Murray. “They have the ability to call in (medical evacuations) and other reports over it.”
The job, however, is not without its challenges.
“The biggest thing is the training of my Marines to be proficient in the gear we use out here,” he said.
Added to this challenge is the fact that Murray originally started out in the Marine Corps as a machine-gunner.
“I went to the school but out here it’s been kind of a ‘learn-as-you-go’ sort of thing,” he said.
Murray doesn’t let this affect him, however.
“Success comes to those who become success conscious,” he stated.
According to Murray, the civilian equivalent of his job and responsibilities is that of a corporate network administrator, which has a salary anywhere from $60,000 up to $150,000.
So why does Murray stay a Marine?
“I love being a Marine because here I get to do this job in a combat environment,” he said. “It’s all about the uniform; I couldn’t see myself in a suit and tie.”