KORAT, Kingdom of Thailand --
Marines from Marine Wing Communications Squadron 18, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Air Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, deployed to Korat Royal Thai Air Force base in Korat, Thailand, in support of MAG-36 during Exercise Cobra Gold 2011.
Twenty-six Marines make up the MWCS-18 detachment, located outside the command operations center, and they have been tasked with providing an entire aircraft group with communications capabilities.
“We provide all the capabilities for the MAG to communicate, from Secret Internet Protocol Router Network and Non-classified Internet Protocol Router Network to phone lines,” said Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Schepis, MWCS-18 detachment staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge. “Without us, the MAG would not even be able to operate.”
The detachment's ability to provide service begins with a piece of equipment they call the 93 van, a satellite dish attached to a mobile control unit that brings in information from Okinawa.
From there, the information travels to a device designated the Deployable Integrated Transport Suite, which breaks apart the information into separate SIPR, NIPR, and phone services.
The separated information then travels to the Deployed Support Interdiction Device, a firewall that protects all of the tactical communications service provided by the Marines at the detachment.
Sgt. Anthony Lebron, the detachment data chief says the sole reason they can provide all of the services is because of the outstanding Marines that man the equipment.
“I have complete confidence in every one of the operators,” Lebron said. “I have seen their performance and I completely trust them because of it.”
A series of antennas erected across the base allows the detachment to provide direct communications services to all the Marines stationed aboard Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base.
The 26 Marines at the detachment are the only Marines in Korat that can operate this equipment, according to Schepis.
“As the SNCOIC here, I have strongly relied on my junior Marines’ abilities to perform their jobs,” Schepis said. “They are all professionals, and I’m extremely proud of them.”
After Cobra Gold several of the Marines will pack up and head straight to the Republic of Korea for Exercise Key Resolve.
“We’re going from long, hot days in Thailand to the cold and wet of Korea,” Schepis joked. “But the hard work is all worth it for the training.”
For more information about Cobra Gold 2011, visit www.marines.mil/cobragold2011 or www.facebook.com/exercisecobragold.