NMCB 133 Completes Joint Communications Exercise with Marine Forces

Story by ETC Joshua Clower, NMCB 133

Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 Det. Guam completed their joint Communication’s Exercise (COMMEX) onboard Naval Base Guam, Oct. 19.

SANTA RITA, Guam (October 19, 2020) Electronics Technician 2nd Class Ian M. Tuck assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 det. Guam conducts a high frequency (HF) communications check over voice with Marine Wing Communications Squadron 18 (MWCS-18) during NMCB 133’s joint communications exercise (COMMEX). During the exercise ET2 Tuck conducted voice and data communication checks with NMCB 3 Det. Japan, MWCS-18, Marine Air Support Squadron 2 (MASS-2), and Marine Air Control Squadron 4 (MACS-4) stationed on Okinawa, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Electronics Technician Joshua J. Clower)

NMCB 133’s joint COMMEX consisted of establishing a high frequency (HF) 3G voice and data circuit utilizing the AN/PRC-150 radio and RF-1912 “bowtie” antenna with NMCB 3 Det. Japan, Marine Wing Communications Squadron 18 (MWCS-18), Marine Air Support Squadron 2 (MASS-2), and Marine Air Control Squadron 4 (MACS-4) stationed on Okinawa, Japan. They also conducted voice and data checks leveraging the mobile user objective system (MUOS) satellite radios with help from 30th Naval Construction Regiment (30NCR) communication department to communicate with NMCB 3 Det. Japan and NMCB 3 Det. Tinian.

NMCB 133 conducted training the week prior for the 12 Seabees in the battalion’s communication platoon in preparation for COMMEX and Mount Out Exercise (MOX).

“The training leading up to the exercise is extremely helpful, it’s good to get the hands on experience with the radios and not just reading a power point about them. Combining your book knowledge with the practical hands on is what really makes you an effective communicator.” said Yeoman 2nd Class
Cameron B. Owens, a member of the battalion’s communication platoon. “It’s really refreshing to see that all the training and qualifying we do serves of great importance. As the lead communicator at the North West Field (NWF) on Andersen Air Force Base during our MOX there were multiple times where I had to troubleshoot the radios, work independently and directly with Chief Clower and ET2 Tuck to resolve issues due to connectivity. It’s really gratifying to pull the trigger on what I have learned and keep communication flowing. Seeing the big picture first hand of how we as a battalion would fit into the wartime picture frame was highly motivating to experience.”

The purpose of a COMMEX is to demonstrate capabilities critical in expanding national strategic initiatives through relevant enterprises in support of major combat operations (MCO). “Being able to take lead on coordinating with adjacent units and building the communications plan was a valuable experience,” said Electronics Technician 2nd Class Ian M. Tuck, the battalion’s subject matter expert on tactical communications and driving force behind NMCB 133’s COMMEX. “Seeing the voice and data circuits coming through as clearly as they did, over a 1,400 mile distance, was extremely satisfying from a communicator’s perspective.”

NMCB 133 wanted to push the envelope with their communication assets by seeking other units to join in on the HF shot to test their interoperability. The NMCB 133 communication’s team, consisting of a technician, a Chief and an Officer, reached out to the Marine forces located in Okinawa and was met with multiple units interested in participating. The communication team was able to test different packet sizes through HF data and received multiple, clear communications checks from the participating Navy and Marine Corp units.

The NMCB 133 communication team worked closely with Staff Sergeant Jesus Aguilar, Transmission Chief for MASS-2, in the preparation phase of the COMMEX. The Marine communicator’s exceptional knowledge and familiarity with the Systems Planning Engineering & Evaluation Device (SPEED) program was invaluable in determining if the HF shot was even feasible with the 1,200 nm distance from Guam to Japan and built the HF antenna in the program to get accurate time of day reporting which is critical when deploying any type of HF communications.

“Being able to shoot, move, and communicate is essential enabler to what Seabees bring to the fight. Our COMEX demonstrated to our gear works, and the skills developed translated seamlessly to this area of operations from our homeport in Mississippi,” said Lt. Cmdr. Austin A. Rasbach, Officer in Charge (OIC) of NMCB 133 Det. Guam. “The NMCB 133 Detachment Guam team reinforced interoperability and our distributed maritime operation capability by engaging and communicating successfully with multiple Navy and Marine Corps units across the radio spectrum while geographically separated by thousands of miles.”

NMCB 133 is forward-deployed to execute construction, support Major Combat Operations and theater security cooperation in the U.S. 7th Fleet areas of operation.

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