I was assigned the duties and responsibilities of the Platoon Radio Transmission Operator for 2nd platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, roughly April of 2004. This position is assigned for a Sergeant (E-5), but I was put in this position as a Private First Class (E-2) as I proved myself competent, capable, and willing to take it on. I held this position throughout our training build up cycle, and while on a combat deployment in Iraq, where we participated in operation Phantom Fury, the invasion of the city of Fallujah, Iraq.
My duties and responsibilities as the Platoon Radio Transmission Operator (RTO) included:
- Responsible for the maintenance and operation of all platoon communications equipment, including the AN-PRC-119 “foxtrot” radio, AN-PRC-148 MBITR squad radios, and various inner-squad radio communications devices.
- Responsible for maintaining continuous communication with the 3 squads in the platoon as well as with higher command during operations.
- Responsible for sending regular reports and other types of communications to higher command as well as communicating message between unit commanders in the field.
- Responsible for assisting the Platoon Commander and Platoon sergeant is sending communications for resupply, air support, directing fire support, and coordinating with adjacent units across multiple communications channels.
- Responsible for the coordination of medical evacuations, resupplies, contact reporting, and status reporting to higher command.
While operating as the RTO both in training and in combat, I learned a great deal about unit operations at the Tactical and Operational levels while communicating between unit commanders. My Communication skills improved dramatically as I was required to report as much information as clearly as possible in as few words as possible during communication with unit commanders. I found myself communicating directly with high level unit commanders and worked frequently with officers and staff far above my pay grade. The various professional skills I gained during this time were:
- Communication Skills and conflict management
- Planning for communications and developing contingencies
- Unit/Department coordination and cooperation
- Supply and Logistics management
- Personnel Management
- Working with superiors and Advising them in communications
In addition to these professional skills, I gained a great deal of personal skills, as this was a very demanding position. I was only 19 years old at this point, and I was given tremendous responsibility in being the link between units operating in a hostile environment. These skills included:
- Time management
- Public speaking
- Dependability and Integrity
- Constantly seeking self improvement
- Adaptability and Flexibility
- Multi-tasking and handling of multiple duties and responsibilities.
- Initiative and Tact
- Keeping calm under significant pressure
- Confidence in advising personnel much more senior in rank than myself
- Remaining humble and respectful
Prior to our deployment to combat, I was awarded a “Meritorious Mast” for my professional conduct in this role and was promoted to Lance Corporal (E-3). After returning from combat, I was selected to be the Company Training Non-Commisioned Officer while still a “general population” ranked Marine. I had additional duties assigned to me as a Fire Team Leader as well.