Marine Corps News Release
Release #: 265
Division of Public Affairs, Headquarters, United States Marine Corps, Washington, DC 20380-1775
Commercial: (703) 614-7678/9 DSN: 224-7678/9 FAX: (703) 697-5362

Date: 04/25/97
Story by Cpl. Steven Williams, MCB Hawaii


SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Oahu, Hawaii, (April 17) -- Like a spider weaves a tangling mesh of lines to trap its prey, 1st Radio Battalion, set up its lines to engulf its enemy during Exercise Distant Dragon, April 7-10.

With units located in Twentynine Palms, Calif., Naval Air Station Barbers Point, Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, and here, the Marines, joined by Alpha Company, 125th Military Intelligence Battalion, had simulated enemies trapped in their web of communication.

"We are the eyes and ears for I and III Marine Expeditionary Forces," said Sgt. Benjamin A. Smith, cryptologic communicator. "We can set up anywhere in the world and, by use of satellite, provide signals intelligence and information for any counterpart of any service."

"We are one of the most important aspects of combat," said Lance Cpl. William P. Burns, morse code operator. "Units can not operate without someone telling them where the enemy is and the other information we provide."

"Without intelligence, no one will know what's out there," said Smith. "They could be in a world of hurt."

The exercise was centered around a fictional combat scenario involving Oahu. The land was divided into countries called Mauka, Makai, Audi Pacifica, and Hono. Although Alpha Company, 1st Radio Bn., was actually located thousands of miles away in Southern California, it acted as if it was just 25 miles away.

"Communicating with units at that distance gives us a lot of practice troubleshooting," said Smith. "We're not always going to be close in a combat environment. We have to learn how to work out our problems from a distance."

"The units get plenty of practice with the equipment and stay pretty proficient on base," Smith said. "But this gives us a chance to test everything we've learned. Plus, by coming to the field, we learn how to adapt to any situation. Everything's not perfect like it would be in garrison. We learn how to be very flexible." (Cpl. Steven Williams, MCB Hawaii)