MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT TRAINING CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Marines from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit's Signal Intelligence Team (SigInt) recently tested the limits of their communications equipment here. The team utilized the AN/PRC-119 field radio in a variety locations surrounding Camp Wilson to test the effective range of the equipment, and to refine their radio operating skills. The team left Camp Wilson here, stopping every two miles to perform radio checks with the Operation Command Element (OCE). At each stop, they tested signal clarity and used terrain to test reception quality in the presence of natural obstacles. “A tiny little thing will destroy your (communications) net,” said Cpl. David Hassan, field radio telephone operator and linguist, referring to the fact that obstacles can disrupt radio frequencies. “You really need to work with it to know when you’re going to get (communications).” SigInt missions include tapping into ambient radio frequencies to gather information. They send the information back to MEU intelligence analysts who then apply the information to mission planning. This field training is critical, as the unit rarely enjoys this authentic environment. “It doesn’t do anyone any good if we can’t pass our information to the rear,” said Sgt. Brian N. Stevenson, team leader, SigInt support team. The training refreshed their knowledge and helped to familiarize the Marines with the types of terrain they can and may encounter if tasked to join the fight in the Global War on Terrorism. The experience prevents them from making the tedious errors that could inhibit communications during real-world operations. “In most cases, (discrepancies are due to) a lack of experience,” Stevenson said. “That’s the whole reason we do this. The next time we go out, they’ll know.” Stevenson emphasized the fact that basic radio operations and transmission locations are fundamentals to the SigInt mission. Pushing key information to unit leaders can transform an impending tragedy into a decisive victory in combat. “We can actually do something that can make an instant difference on the battlefield,” he said.