NEWS | Feb. 8, 2018

Marine Wing Communications Squadron-18 Conducts Exercise Warrior Challenge 18

By Cpl. Jessica Etheridge

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan -- More than 100 Marines with Marine Wing Communications Squadron 18 (MWCS-18), Marine Air Control Group 18, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, participated in exercise Warrior Challenge 18, detachment alpha’s internal squadron exercise, throughout Okinawa, Jan. 18-31, 2018.

The exercise allows participants to rehearse the establishment of a tactical air command center (TACC) level communications architecture in order to increase Marine’s technical skills, build unit cohesion, and rehearse the communications support prior to the execution of Key Resolve 18, an annual command post exercise conducted with the Republic of Korea (ROK) Armed Forces focusing on strengthening the ROK-U.S. Alliance.

“All this training leads to the proficiency of the Marines,” said 1st Lt. Donovan Bates, the officer in charge of exercise Warrior Challenge 18, MWCS-18, MAG-36, 1st MAW. “It gives them the basic level of knowledge needed to go out and support our exercises for any expeditionary operations or training events we have throughout the fiscal year.”

The TACC is the operational wing command post from which the aviation combat element commander and his staff, plan, supervise, coordinate, and execute Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) air operations. It integrates the six functions of Marine aviation with the MAGTF command element. The TACC provides functional interface for employment of MAGTF aviation in joint and coalition operations.

Throughout the exercise, network administrators, data systems administrators, Air Contingency MAGTF (ACM), and field radio operators cross-trained to facilitate the ever evolving progressive transformation of their 06XX military occupational specialty school.

“MWCS-18 is taking the first steps to provide training to Marines that have not been exposed to the new requirements,” said Bates, a native of White Bear Lake, Minnesota. “This is essential to the transformation of the command and control abilities that allow the Marine Corps to best deliver and defend the command and control network.”

Force modernization requires the Marine Corps to adapt to the ever changing information environment by standardizing the information management processes. This permits commanders in the air, land, and sea to make faster decisions to overcome the enemy and preserve the lives of service members. This transformation also allows command and control to increase mobilization and deployment abilities, ensuring the U.S. maintains a decisive advantage over her enemies.

“Because of the [communication] squadron’s high operational tempo, we need to get these guys trained up,” said Gunnery Sgt. Timothy Bos, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge of exercise Warrior Challenge 18, MWCS-18. “We need to get their [billet descriptions] established and just give them the ground work to go out and do their newly assigned jobs quickly.”

During the exercise, the ACM plays a major role in the overall technical proficiency that detachment alpha will be required to provide during exercise Key Resolve 18 in the spring.

“Within a matter of hours, the ACM or radio data team, which is kind of the generals’ personal communications team, can deploy rapidly and establish communications in a very short time,” said 1st Lt. Jordan Duncan, the ACM, OIC for detachment alpha, MWCS-18, and native of San Diego. “This increases command and control in high intense situations.”

Although throughout the communications community they work side-by-side to get the job done, the mission can’t be completed without each 06XX doing their part.

“We are starting from the bottom, learning the small things so we can build ourselves up,” said Pfc. Katherine Reynosa, a network administrator with detachment alpha, MWCS-18. “I feel more confident in what I am doing and more experienced.”