Magazine article National Defense

Marines Test New Wireless Network

Magazine article National Defense

Marines Test New Wireless Network

Article excerpt

Portable, truck-mounted system allows battlefield data exchange

The Marine Corps and the Navy are investing $6 million in a pair of portable communications units designed to facilitate information exchanges during military deployments.

Recently, Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, fielded an ad-hoc wireless communication system called MEU enabler. It establishes lines of communication when Marines and sailors leave the ships to operate on land.

The MEU enabler is manned by a crew of 10 Marines who work from a van mounted to a Humvee truck that is linked to an 8foot satellite dish. The Corps, ultimately, wants each MEU to have its own source for tactical communications. The MEU has nearly 2,000 Marines and sailors, along with an air combat element, an infantry battalion, amphibious assault vehicles, combat engineers, an anti-armor section and light-- armored vehicles.

The crew integrates the new equipment with the existing communications network to provide services including commercial and defense switch network telephone service, and classified and unclassified Internet, e-mail and message traffic access.

But the MEU enabler only serves as a temporary ad-hoc system. The Marine Corps and the Navy now are working to field a follow-on system that, if it works as planned, will become standard equipment throughout the service.

The Joint Enhanced Core Communications System (JECCS) provides basic long-haul and tactical communications and network management services. It uses commercial off-the-shelf communications and information systems and some legacy equipment and software. The system is housed in an M1097 Humvee and provides a mobile communications node. The transmission device is a satellite dish and the communication devices can be tactical phones or laptop computers.

Wideband, satellite-based, global, secure and non-secure voice and data network connectivity to the MEUs comes via the Defense Information System Network (DISN). Network services available through JECCS include the Public Switched Telephone Network, Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN), Defense Switch Network (DSN), Defense Red Switch Network (DRSN), commercial (nonsecure) and tactical (secure) Internets, UHF and tactical satellite communications, VHF tactical communications and Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS) network. …

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