MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Marines commanded by 2d Marine Regiment executed a Line of Sight Communications Exercise that focused on the readiness of the AN/MRC-142D multi-channel radio system and the Tactical Elevated Antenna Mast System (TEAMS) on Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 17-19, 2021. Although the exercise was centered on both radio and antenna employment, the main focus was the development of teams at the sergeant and below level.
The communications exercise is a regiment-planned event that incorporated multiple training areas spanning 15 miles (24 km) in Camp Lejeune. The three day exercise included sergeant led instruction and practical application. It later advanced to timed employment drills. The Marines became proficient in both day and night employment while reducing setup times from 90 minutes to 60 minutes. The exercise culminated in the employment of the system in a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) environment in Mission-oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) Level 4.
The AN/MRC-142 and TEAMS can be found throughout the MEF at communications battalion, communications squadron, MLG and Division Communications Company, and at the regimental communications platoons. The AN/MRC-142 was originally procured by the Marine Corps in the 1990s to support ship to shore communications during amphibious operations and also supported limited mobility for Division to Regiment communications. With technology increases, the AN/MRC-142 has increased bandwidth from 144K to 16M and operates in the Ultra High Frequency Spectrum. It also has a 35 mile max effective employment range. Fully erected, the TEAMS stands over 100 feet (34-meters) and provides obstacle clearance for line of sight systems like the MRC-142.
Outside of backyard communications exercises, the TEAMS and MRC-142D had not been employed at the regiment for some time. This is largely due to investments in force design and the introduction of smaller and more mobile capabilities to limit signature and enable quicker setup. “Command Operations Centers need to be lethal, survivable, and sustainable. Commanders must weigh the risk associated with each and decide whether big bandwidth systems enabling lethality are worth decreases in survivability and the logistics train supporting sustainability,” said 1stLt Utah Gentry, assistant communications officer, 2d Marine Regiment.
Master Gunnery Sgt. Espeut, communications chief, 2d Marine Regiment added, “This is a readiness exercise that validates capability. Operational equipment and trained Marines lead to capability. For the MRC-142 and TEAMS, we have gotten away from this system for a number of reasons including long setup and teardown times and physical and electromagnetic signature. The current operating environment doesn’t allow for the employment of these systems outside fixed forward operating bases in counterinsurgency type fights. Furthermore, compartmentalized terrain associated with expeditionary advanced bases just doesn’t call for this type of system, especially with its red beacon.”
The communications exercise meets II MEF goals of readiness, sustainment, and demonstrated capability. It enabled small teams to operate independently; a stance consistent with distributed operations. The Regiment added more capable operators who now have the ability to execute should the AN/MRC-142 and TEAMS be needed for the next fight.