CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Communication is a key element in every successful operation conducted by the Marines with 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.
Marines like Lance Cpl. John R. Camisa and Sgt. James Behrmann with the communications platoon worked around the clock to keep the battalion connected to the communication highway.
To do this, they established an intricate network of computers, phones and radios in the combat operations center (COC). This enables the battalion to communicate with both its higher commands and subordinate units within a week of their arriving in Fallujah.
“We arrived and within the first week we had the COC set up and communicating with all the companies,” explained Camisa, a radio technician and a 23-year-old Spring Hill, Fla., native.
The technicians’ jobs are far from complete after emplacing the network though. To keep the battalion and its subordinate units talking requires constant care, repair and upgrade to communications gear.
“There is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes on to make sure things are running smoothly,” explained Behrmann, Assistant Field Wireman Chief. “You never know when things are going to go down and need fixed. Sometimes it will be shortly after getting off work and you will get called right back in.”
Maintaining the unit’s communications network isn’t their only obstacle though. They received gear from 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, one of the units involved in the battle for Fallujah, Iraq, that was being used for seven months in this war-torn area. The Marines conducted function checks and preventative maintenance on the gear to determine what was needed to either keep it working or get it operational once more.
“The war-torn gear we received was not up to standards, so we took the initiative to set up the next unit for success by ordering the parts 1st Battalion, 8th Marines didn’t have the chance to get,” explained Behrmann.
The communications platoon is also providing training to the units on proper care of their equipment and train the unit’s Marines to be radio operators.
“Our radio operators are stretched out thin, so we train the Marines to be able to use, maintain and troubleshoot the communications gear we give them,” stated Behrmann, a 24-year-old Lake George, N.Y. native.
The actions of a radio operator during a roadside IED attack is an excellent example of how a trained operator and properly cared for gear can lead to a unit’s success and save the lives of Marines.
Corporal Derek Collins called in nine medical evacuations in less than 10 minutes for Marines injured during the attack. His quick actions and military bearing under pressure facilitated the wounded Marines successful evacuation to a medical facility for care.
“Corporal Collins was able to call in 9 medical evacuations quickly using his training and the properly working gear he had with him,” said Behrmann, a1999 Lake George High School graduate. “The faster he was able to get the info called in, the better prepared everyone at Camp Fallujah was to care for the wounded individuals.”
This is also a prime example of why it is important to conduct maintenance and clean communications gear as well as weapons. When communications go down between Marines, operations and lives are put at risk.
“Keeping the gear properly maintained and cleaned will help stop preventable communications loses between different groups,” said Camisa, a Springstead High School graduate. “The Marines may not be able call for fire, air support or backup if the gear is not properly maintained.”
Before and after each mission, communications Marines also conduct thorough pre and post combat inspections to help prevent loss of communications while conducting operations in Operations Iraqi Freedom.
“When there are problems with certain gear that happens over and over, we keep an eye out and make sure we check everything to ensure it is working,” Camisa explained.
Camisa and Behrmann along with the rest of the communications Marines in the battalion are a key element to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines success in making the city of Fallujah a stable and secure environment for Iraqi’s to prosper.
“Working out here is not an easy job but we get the job done with the gear we have. You have to make the mission happen no matter what and the Marines we have working in the communications shop help get it done,” explained Gunnery Sgt. Simon J. Dorsey, the battalion’s technician chief.