Photo Information

U.S. Marine Cpl. Brendan Terrible (foreground), a radio operator, and Lance Cpl. Levii Khalfaoui McLeod, (background), a data systems administrator with 7th Communication Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, adjust a horizontal dipole field expedient antenna while reinforcing 3D Marine Expeditionary Brigade during exercise Yama Sakura 81 on Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan Dec. 10, 2021. Yama Sakura 81 is the largest joint and bilateral command post exercise (CPX) co-sponsored by U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) and the JGSDF designed to increase joint force lethality, enhance design and posture, and strengthen alliances and partnerships (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sergeant Andrew Ochoa).

Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Ochoa

Marines from 7th Communication Battalion first in, last out for Yama Sakura 81

13 Dec 2021 | 2nd Lt. Jed Arend 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade

OKINAWA, Japan – U.S. Marines from 7th Communication Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, reinforced Marines and Sailors of the 3D Marine Expeditionary Brigade during Exercise Yama Sakura 81 as well as soldiers from Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade, Dec. 7 to Dec. 12, 2021 at Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan.

7th Communication Battalion’s mission is to establish, maintain, and defend communication networks and services simultaneously for Marine Air Ground Task Force command elements, Marine component headquarters, and/or a Combined/Joint Task Force headquarters in order to facilitate a commander's ability to command and control forces.

“We are glad to support the mission of the 3D Marine Expeditionary Brigade,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Patterson, Commanding Officer of 7th Communication Battalion. “Not only does this provide the MEB a critical capability and expand their ability to conduct assured command and control at distance, it also provides a live training environment where the exercise depends on our communication Marines proficiency as they solve problems and provide situational updates to the staff. We couldn’t be happier to step up to the plate for the MEB during Yama Sakura 81 as well as any other operation or training event in the future.”

As Yama Sakura 81 gets underway, 7th Comm Bn prepared to support nearly 200 users on multiple network systems. Before the exercise began, 7th Comm Bn performed a week-long Communication Exercise to test the equipment and the configurations that were planned for the Yama Sakura. This allowed Communication-Electronics Maintenance Marines to test and inspect equipment for operability, serviceability, and efficiency prior to the start of the exercise.

“7th Communication Battalion is the execution arm of the MEB G-6,” said Lt. Col. John Sisson, Assistant Chief of Staff, G-6, 3D MEB. “They provide the majority of personnel and equipment to install, operate, and maintain the communication infrastructure. Without 7th Communication Battalion’s support, we cannot accomplish our mission.”

The communication Marines installed, operated and maintained communications equipment at various sites throughout Camp Courtney and at Camp Ainoura where the ARDB performed their operations. Hundreds of meters of cables were laid out at various sites to enable connectivity on all operational networks.

“Communication is one of the largest pieces of this exercise,” said Cpl James Hale, a data systems administrator with 7th Communication Battalion, III MEF Information Group. “I have real world experience from working with the 31st MEU, so I’ve been able to use my experience to train the new Marines on how to operate and troubleshoot issues. This is the closest they will get to real-world operations, and it’s a higher tempo than they’re used to, so they are really doing well to work around the clock to maintain comms.”

During the exercise, the Marines made configurations to the network as needed to provide quality service on the systems to the users to reduce lag time and to maintain the network, server, and transmissions systems throughout the exercise.

Communications personnel involved in YS 81 consisted of Marines from the Communications-Electronics Maintenance community (28XX) and Communications community (06XX) who all played a part to install, operate, and maintain communications during the entirety of the exercise. These Marines are regularly the first in the fight to setup the exercise site and the last to leave.

Yama Sakura 81 is an annual command post exercise that focuses on improving the interoperability between JGSDF and U.S. Forces. Beginning in 1982, Yama Sakura has provided the opportunity for both forces to continually work together ensuring that they can rapidly react to counter aggression against Japan and other allies and partners. Training events like these are essential to maintaining peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region.

This year, 3D MEB and the ARDB play a part in the larger U.S. and JGSDF’s Army exercise events. Marines from other III Marine Expeditionary Force major subordinate commands reinforce the 3D MEB with non-organic structure and equipment, enabling 3D MEB to a provide rapidly-employable C2 node to conduct expeditionary advanced base operations as may be required against a near-peer adversary. 3D MEB remains a resilient and ready force and is III MEF’s crisis contingency task force.


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