26th MEU learns to maneuver on digital bridge;

14 Jul 2006 | Staff Sgt. Trent Kinsey

Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit learned about a valuable addition to MEU communications, today, during a field training exercise here.

The Enhanced Positioning Locating Reporting System (EPLRS), recently acquired by the MEU, is an asset that will help bridge a gap between traditional radio communications and 21st century digital technology.

Communications section representatives from the MEU's command element; Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Bn., 2nd Marine Regiment; and Combat Logistics Bn.- 26 sat in a field expedient classroom receiving instruction on the digital radio system, which has been used by the Marine Corps for approximately 5 years.

"EPLRS has been in existence for a while," said Pedro J. Zenquis, Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity.  "They [the Marines] haven't been using it a lot, because the Marines haven't been trained."

Zenquis, who was on hand to show the Marines the functions of the system and how to set up the radios, said the training for the Marines became important when unit commanders learned of the EPLRS capabilities.

"It's been getting command interest because of its use in Iraq," he said.

Zenquis stated the system, which can be mounted in a vehicle or man-carried, has the capability to let commanders in the field receive information from a command on ship in limited digital data formats.

This system will allow the MEU to extend its data services to its units ashore, said Maj. Jaime Macias, Communications Officer, 26th MEU. 

"Before, we had only single-channel voice," said Macias.  "This will extend our digital network."

The enhanced ability of the MEU command to push data to its forces is particularly important in the emerging environment of distributed operations. The requirement for commanders in separate, sometimes austere locations to piece together an image of the battle-space using only spoken word will be reduced with the introduction of a shared operational picture in data form.

With the EPLRS now resident in the BLT, CLB and command element, as well as the ships of the ESG, the MEU will work towards integrating the system into its pre-deployment exercises.

"Our intent is to train and then deploy it during TRUEX [Training in an Urban Environment Exercise]," said Macias.

As the communications Marines continue bolstering their skills with the new equipment, the MEU will continue preparing for a scheduled early 2007 deployment in support of the Global War on Terrorism.

For more information about the 26th MEU, go to www.usmc.mil/26thmeu.