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Lance Cpl. Jimmy Trejo cuts a piece of conduit that will protect underground fiber optic cable at Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan, Nov. 3. Trejo, from Van Buren, Ark., works as a wireman for Marine Wing Communications Squadron 28.

Photo by Cpl. Justin M. Boling

Marines upgrade digital communications in Afghanistan

16 Nov 2011 | Cpl. Justin M. Boling

Coalition troops at Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan, now have better communications thanks to the nonstop efforts of a small detachment of Marines.

 A detachment of fewer than 100 Marines from Marine Wing Communication Squadron 28 worked for the past few months to upgrade communications at the forward operating base.

 Camp Dwyer serves as a base of operations for Regimental Combat Team 5 and elements from 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) in southern Helmand province.

 Regimental Combat Team 5 serves under 2nd Marine Division (Forward), the ground combat element of Marine Corps forces in southwestern Afghanistan. The Wing is the aviation combat element for the southwestern regional command of the NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.

 Prior to upgrading to fiber optic cable, Camp Dwyer relied on tactical data wires for its communications. These wires were set above the ground where they could be easily damaged, potentially interrupting communications.

 Moving the entire system underground safeguards communications between Camp Dwyer and other units operating throughout the Helmand province, as they conduct counterinsurgency operations, the communications squadron’s Marines said.

 “We provide the communication for the medical evacuation teams to be able to coordinate to save soldiers’ and Marines’ lives,” explained Cpl. Kayla Erianne, a radio operator with the Marine Wing Communications Squadron 28 detachment. “We’re also the ones that provide the morale lines back to the States, so that you are able to hear your loved ones’ voices and know that they’re OK.

 “We are taking everyone off the old tactical wire network and putting them on a commercial network that is more similar to what you would see back in the States,” said 1st Lt. Darnell Billups, the wire platoon commander for the detachment, and a native of Philadelphia. “This allows equipment to survive a lot longer.”

 Marines from many different specialties came together to install the 60 miles of fiber optic cable that will allow for improved data and voice communications for the Camp Dwyer troops.

 “The fact that we were able to do this in such short order and train here to become experts is directly due to the hard work of our sergeants and corporals,” said Billups.

 “Since we have been here we have been working up to this,” said Erianne, a native of Bridgeton, N.J. “I was only recently promoted to corporal and this was my first real chance to lead Marines. I have learned a ton every day, and it has made me a better leader.”

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