CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Marines with 9th Communication Battalion, currently attached to 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Combat Logistics Battalion 15 are working around the clock to perfect the communication’s command and control center for Exercise Iron Fist that will commence late January.
The annual exercise provides Marines and Sailors from 15th MEU and units from I Marine Expeditionary Force the opportunity to train with the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force. The exercise is composed of live-fire ranges and amphibious operations that prepare service members for contingencies and crises throughout the Pacific.
Though the JGSDF doesn’t arrive until mid-January and the exercise doesn’t begin for a few weeks, early communication capabilities are essential between the different elements of the two-month exercise.
1st Lt. Jennifer L. Mozzetta, data and wire platoon officer in charge with 9th Comm. Bn., said it is her goal to have the site completely operational by the end of the week.
“This is day three of the Iron Fist prep,” Mozzetta said. “Right now we have set up our site, but we are still working on getting connectivity with the satellite.”
Between the three units, approximately 40 Marines are gradually making the mission seamless.
Staff Sgt. Christopher Phibbs, data chief with 15th MEU, knows what needs to be accomplished, having been apart of the exercise in 2012.
“Most of the Marines I have working for me are fresh out of [communication school], so, they are baseline data Marines,” Phibbs said. “I’m trying to get them up to speed on exactly what their job is and how important it is that they truly grasp and master these concepts. But, they are doing well and understanding what I’m teaching them.”
Both Mozzetta and Phibbs said the Marines, if not already, will understand that this exercise lives, dies and breathes on the services they are providing.
“I’m excited,” Phibbs said. “This is the first time since the deployment that we can get hands-on with the gear. There’s only so much training you can do without live bird access. This is really going to give these Marines an opportunity to truly see what the MEU from a communications aspect is capable of doing and what they are responsible for getting done.”
Mozzetta said Exercise Iron Fist is an opportunity for Marines to not only work with an international military, but also prove their skills worthy of a deployment in the future.