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CHIPS Articles: Task force Marines place first in innovation challenge

Task force Marines place first in innovation challenge
Solution for radio frequency range of vehicle-mounted radios
By 1st Lt. Heather Chairez, Marine Corps Forces South - September 18, 2020
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Three communications Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Southern Command developed a solution to limited radio frequency range capability that won them first place in 4th Marine Logistics Group’s Innovation Challenge on Sept. 9.

This innovation challenge asked Marines and Sailors, of all ranks, to bring their new ideas and solutions to current capabilities gaps to MLG leadership.

For Sgt. Raul Sanchez, Sgt. Adan Hernandez, and Sgt. Dayne Daylong, the capability gap was the limitations of the radio frequency range of vehicle-mounted radios, and they were determined to solve it.

““...The SPMAGTF-SC is no longer reliant upon vehicular assets for over-the-horizon VHF and is now able to have the command operation center communicate up to 18 miles away, keeping in touch with the Marines and Sailors at training areas all over.”

~ Sgt. Raul Sanchez, a field radio operator

The lack in the readiness of vehicle-mounted radios led to a loss in the primary source of communications on very high frequency, or VHF, during SPMAGTF-SC exercises, said Daylong, a transmission noncommissioned officer.

The Marines identified the issue and worked to develop a solution of a man-pack antenna that would replace the older equipment.

“I had a baseline of knowledge on how to work with antennas,” said Sanchez, field radio operator. “We then took the initiative to enhance our understanding with videos and thorough research in order to approach our problem.”

With $15 worth of material and thirty minutes to build, the team developed the new antenna that could push VHF communications three times as far as the current capabilities.

“It is more cost efficient, longer range, and has a significant reduction in electronic signature through a directional, low-powered antenna,” said Sanchez. “The SPMAGTF-SC is no longer reliant upon vehicular assets for over-the-horizon VHF and is now able to have the command operation center communicate up to 18 miles away, keeping in touch with the Marines and Sailors at training areas all over.”

The innovation challenge allowed service members of all ranks to speak about potential solutions to modern day problems, said Sanchez.

“We may not have been the highest ranking individuals on the panel, but we were able to prove our communications problem and solution effectively,” said Sanchez.

The team received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals for their work, presented by Brig. Gen. Karl Pierson, the commanding general of 4th MLG, at Camp Lejeune on Sept. 15.

The task force serves as the crisis response force assigned to U.S. Southern Command and is prepared and postured to deploy to the Latin American and the Caribbean region to work alongside partner nation militaries, enhancing combined crisis response efforts.

For Marine Corps news go to www.marines.mil/News.aspx.

U.S. Marines hold a cash prize during an award ceremony at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Sept. 15. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Benjamin Larsen/Released
A U.S. Marine assembles his teams’ improved very high frequency antennae they created at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Sept. 16. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Benjamin Larsen/Released
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