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Marines with Marine Wing Communications Squadron 48, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, build an OE-254 very high frequency voice communication antenna during Communication Exercise (COMMEX) at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., June 15. COMMEX is an annual training drill period for Marine reservists to practice and hone their skills in their military occupational specialties, and to establish and maintain long-range communications.

Photo by Cpl. Nathaniel McAllister

Communications squadron 48 hones skills during Communications Exercise

28 Jun 2018 | Cpl. Nathaniel McAllister 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

Once a year, active-reserve unit Marine Wing Communications Squadron (MWCS) 48, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW), conducts a Communication Exercise (COMMEX) at Marine Corps air Station Miramar, California; Camp Pendleton, California; and Great Lakes, Illinois, June 14 to 20.

This exercise is meant to help reservists practice and hone their military occupational specialty skills within the communications squadron, as well as work with 3rd MAW to establish and maintain networks and servers.

“This is the annual training event for the squadron for this fiscal year,” said Maj. Sean Wills, executive officer of MWCS-48. “This particular year, we ended up doing a large-scale, squadron-level communications exercise. This is a two-week period where the squadron came together for the first time in more than four years because the squadron is separated between Great Lakes and Miramar.”

3rd MAW had a small part in the exercise, providing resources such as equipment and ample training area that allowed enough space for 4th MAW assets to be properly utilized. In return, 4th MAW shared the results from the use of the Tropospheric Scatter Microwave Radio Terminal (TRC) 170—a multichannel terminal capable of transmitting digital information in a secure manner over a distance of 100-150 miles—with 3rd MAW. The TRC-170 is an aging, but still relevant, piece of equipment and 3rd MAW is using the data to potentially extend the lifecycle of the radio terminal. 
Because reservists only train in their military occupational specialty one weekend a month and two weeks in the summer, there have been some challenges with preparing for COMMEX. For instance, reservists maintain civilian jobs or attend school when not participating in drill so it limits the time they are able to focus on their military training. Active-duty Marines are required to become subject matter experts for the reservists to reference. While the reservists are excited to train, they still have the stresses of their daily lives, which may also take them away from their families. 
In addition to being away for drill, Sgt. Maj. John Scarborough, squadron sergeant major for MWCS-48, said he has to travel periodically with his civilian job as well, and to different Army bases teaching police skills to different units.

“My kids are 9, 10 and 12, and they’ve learned that sometimes daddy’s work takes him away,” said Scarborough.
Through all of these adversities, 4th MAW is completing its mission essential tasks on time and correctly, as well as giving the Marines training time to better themselves, Scarborough continued. 
The exercise was an opportunity to focus on giving Marines time to train and gain hands on experience, show the squadron how it can support the active forces and, ultimately, fit into the big picture.

“All reservists want to do is contribute to the fight,” said Lt. Col. Brian C. Pate, commanding officer of MWCS-48. “The way we do that as reservists is by providing trained and ready Marines or units that can perform the same functions as our sister units.”

This mindset gives the Marines determination and motivation to do their best to get their mission accomplished, added Pate, who said “being a reservist or being affiliated with the Corps and being able to train like this makes them better in their civilian life because they carry all the traits that we value as a Marine into their daily lives.”

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