AN NASIRIYAH, Iraq -- Standing in the middle of an old Iraqi Army training camp here, Marines and Sailors of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) communicate through today's newest technology to keep them in touch with other Marines on the battlefield and with their family back home.
The small group of Marines with the Joint Task Force Enabler give the entire 15th MEU (SOC) capabilities to send and receive both secure and non-secure e-mails and voice communication nearly anywhere in the world.
In addition to providing secure transmissions, the 15th MEU (SOC) has the ability to communicate through video teleconferencing for the first time while deployed, according to Cpl. Benjamin C. Banks, 27, a Payette, Idaho native, JTFE data chief.
Joint Task Force Enabler Marines allow military leaders to control their units when they are physically away from them on the battlefield.
There is no greater asset than communication on the battlefield according to 1st Lt. Kimberly A. Primerano, 25, a King George County, Va., native, JTFE officer in charge, S-6. Solid communication gives sound command and control abilities to commanders.
In addition to communication, command and control, the JTFE also brings modern communication techniques to the Marines and Sailors of the 15th MEU (SOC). The JTFE brings the MEU e-mail access, phone calls, and Internet access, all while staying ready for combat, according to Sgt. Renrick N. Lett, 27, an Indianapolis native, platoon sergeant for S-6, CE.
Besides providing flowing communications to everyone in the MEU, they are also a flowing organization with tear down and set up of the JTFE equipment.
"We flow with the battle," said Gunnery Sgt. Charles W. Englert Jr., 37, a Jersey City, N.J., native, JTFE communications chief, S-6, CE. "It's good practice to become proficient tearing down and setting back up again."
To train for desert environments, they travel to Marine Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., during Combined Armed Exercises to help them prepare for their future deployments. As well as training at the MCAGCC, communication Marines train at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., to become adjusted to working in desert temperatures.
"During the workup cycle, we can troubleshoot problems we have in the field and be more efficient when we do it for real." Englert said.
Serving as a communication lifeline to the 15th MEU (SOC), the Marines know when something is wrong with the phones or the Internet within five minutes, according to Sgt. Michael D. Walker, 23, a Houston native, wire chief for JTFE, S-6, CE.
The only means of communication 50 years ago was either sending a hand written letter or talking over the radio. Now, phone technology has proved its importance on the battlefield.
"Phones have been around a lot longer than e-mail and will always be needed," Walker said. "I think people have a lot more confidence in talking to someone over the phone, instead of e-mail, because they actually heard it from that person."