Photo Information

Gunnery Sgt. Lagarian Smith, cyber network chief with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, guides Cpl. Justin Henderson, a 13th MEU cyber network specialist, through troubleshooting techniques as they set up network communications aboard the USS Boxer during PHIBRON-MEU Intergration (PMINT) exercise Sept. 24, 2015. The exercise marks the first time 13th MEU Marines and Sailors with the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group get to work together at sea before their deployment to the Pacific and Central Command areas of responsibility in early 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by: Staff Sgt. Terika S. King/Relased)

Photo by Staff Sgt. Terika King

Network it out: Cyber Network Specialists help Marines communicate at PMINT

24 Sep 2015 | Staff Sgt. Terika King 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit

U.S. Marines and Sailors with 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group have been working around the clock to get Internet networks and cyber communication up and running aboard the USS Boxer, USS New Orleans and USS Harpers Ferry for the PHIBRON-MEU Integration (PMINT) Exercise.

Cyber network specialist Marines are tasked with providing command communications to the staff of the 13th MEU. They control the networks the computers are linked to which allows both Navy and Marine personnel on board to communicate with one another, other vessels and people ashore.

“Our mission is to provide the MEU with Internet services,“ said Cpl. Nicholas Tritto, a cyber network specialist with the 13th MEU.

To accomplish their mission, network specialists have had to work closely with the ARG Sailors.

“On ship, we don’t control the network. We only control our servers. We have to work hand-in-hand with the Navy to get our network online,” said Tritto, a native of Cairo, New York.

Connecting the Marine Corps servers to the Navy network was a challenge the Marines had to adapt to.

“We overcame problems by working long hours and trouble shooting problems with the Navy,” Tritto said. “We researched the gear, which programs we could and couldn’t use, but mostly, it was a lot of troubleshooting.”

Communication between the ships may seem like a big undertaking, but the infrastructure was already in place, allowing the Marines to focus on the programming aspect of the job.

“We configure our servers to authenticate ship to ship once a connection is established,” said Tritto. “The Navy is in charge of the infrastructure.”

In addition to the tangible hurdles, there were other challenges to adjust to as well.

“Relationships with the Navy and Marines have to be solid and strong in order for us as communicators to successfully configure, operate and maintain network services,” said Gunnery Sgt. Lagarian Smith, cyber security chief with the 13th MEU. “We’re addressing that by having patience with each other and understanding that we all have priorities. We work together to establish joint priorities so issues can get worked out in a timely manner.”

Whether ship to ship or peer to peer, all members of the command place a high priority on communication. The cyber security technicians have been working hard to establish those connections.

“My guys have been working extremely hard,” said Smith. “They’re putting in 12 to 16 hour days supporting the staff of the 13th MEU and subordinate commands.”

13th Marine Expeditionary Unit