By Lance Cpl. Daniel A. FlynnFebruary 5, 2009
SATTAHIP, Thailand - Every major exercise has thousands of moving parts, but none of those parts would function if there were no communications in place.
7th Communication Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force, establishes the lifeline that supplies the 3d Marine Expeditionary Brigade command element during Exercise Cobra Gold 2009.
Cobra Gold is a regularly scheduled joint/coalition multinational exercise and is the latest in the continuing series of U.S.-Thai military exercises designed to ensure regional peace and stability.
"7th Comm. is specialized in getting the most complete picture in the least amount of time for the command," said Staff Sgt. James H. McNair Jr., data chief for 7th Communication Battalion. "It's all about how fast information can be passed from unit to unit."
"The majority of the workload is all up front. We come out a week early and put in 16- to 20-hour workdays until we are up and running," he said.
According to McNair, about 30 Marines deployed with 7th Communication Bn. in support of exercise Cobra Gold.
"My job is to maintain communication between all the units out here, and there is always something new and interesting I have to do," said Lance Cpl. Roberto Valladarez, a radio operator with 7th Communication Bn.
During the first few days of an exercise, 7th Communication Battalion's job consists primarily of customer services, according to McNair.
"We ensure the network that the Marines are using is secure; meaning that important information is safe from hackers and other threats," said Lance Cpl. Gerald B. Foote, a data network specialist with 7th Communication Bn. "My job is worth waking up for," he added.
While deployed in support of exercises such as Cobra Gold, 7th Communication Bn. is completely self-sufficient. Its Marines supply their own power with generators. They set up hundreds of telephone lines, internet connections, computer systems and numerous other critical assets necessary for units to successfully accomplish their missions.
7th Communication Battalion has successfully completed their mission here with only about a third of the gear normally at their disposal, due to several other exercises the unit is supporting.
McNair said, "This has been a really high operational tempo, and we have a good crew out here who have worked really hard and are very dedicated to their job."