This statement may seem strange coming from Lance Cpl. Jason V. Edds,
an Oklahoma City native who describes himself as "never having been a
very outgoing guy."
Nevertheless, 20-year-old, soft-spoken Edds performs a vital role in
keeping counter-insurgency operations moving along smoothly for his
fellow Marines with the 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, here.
Without him and his Communications Platoon teammates, missions to
uproot terrorists here simply wouldn't happen.
Edds, a 2004 U.S. Grant High School graduate, works as one of
approximately 40 field radio operators who assist their battalion in
and around the former terrorist hotbed of Fallujah. He works largely
out of the camp's 'ant farm,' an array of OE-254 communications
antennas and field radios located apart from the unit's command
headquarters. There, Edds routinely inspects communication equipments’
wires and connections, ensuring that they are clean and functional.
"We make sure all the comm stays up in the battalion, and that we're
able to talk to our bases out in town. We take care of the gear here
to make sure that happens," Edds explained.
Currently, the battalion's infantrymen occupy four bases in the area:
Camp Baharia's combat operations center, two in Northern Fallujah, and
one inside the nearby rural community of Saqlawiyah, a township many
insurgents fled to after Coalition forces wrested Fallujah from them
last year. Several miles separate each of the camps.
As radio operators, Edds and his team ensure the different bases
maintain clear, constant communication, both with each other and their
respective higher commands.
Edds described the ant farm he helps man as Baharia's re-trans
station, an outpost that receives incoming radio traffic and sends
messages to the battalion's infantry companies in Fallujah.
In addition to maintaining this ant farm, radio operators work out of
the downtown bases to keep comm up on their end. Like Edds, they clean
and check their equipment, but also keep a strict sense of security in
mind as they accomplish their tasks.
The Marines regularly input encryption data, known as crypto, into the
radio waves used to transmit the messages. This scrambling data
garbles the information in between the starting and ending points,
enabling unit personnel to discuss classified information via radio.
The sizeable task of maintaining his unit’s communication capabilities
and keeping operational security airtight falls on Marines like Edds,
who recognize the weight of responsibility the job carries.
“We’re one of the most important assets the battalion has,” Edds
stated. “If we didn’t have comm during operations, the commander
wouldn’t know what was going on, and his Marines wouldn’t know what to
do. Operations would pretty much stop without comm.”