MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
It sounds like a dramatic scene from a big budget action film: a Marine leaves his office and heads outside for a much needed break. When walking across the parking lot, he trips a sensor nearby. Two cameras hidden in what appears to be an innocent pile of leaves takes snapshots of the Marine. The scene then cuts to a nearby building where Marines are analyzing his movements.
Marines with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit Command Element performed an operational check of their ground surveillance equipment March 10, 2011. The system monitors areas of interest in order to monitor trends, detect ground vibrations, audio, and visual information, then relays the information to ground surveillance Marines in order to gather information about an area. Photo surveillance is set up using a pair of triggers, one on each side of the cameras. When one trigger goes off, images are taken of what’s moving in the area and other pertinent information.
“When a vehicle or personnel walk from this trigger to the next trigger, it will tell me what’s moving, how many are moving, what direction, and how fast they’re going,” said Lance Cpl. David Trudell, a sensor surveillance operator with the 22nd MEU. “This way we can call in and say, ‘hey, you have this-sized element moving from east to west on this road at this time, at this speed,’ which is useful to set up possible ambushes. Or maybe there’s an enemy patrol in the area; very useful information for intelligence to have.”
The 21-year-old Detroit native added, this system eliminates the need to have Marines survey the area and end up in a potentially dangerous situation. All they need to do is replace the batteries. Their skills in surveillance add to their value when attached to an infantry platoon.
“It’s a lot easier to have sensors out there on the ground to watch an area than to have a four man team or two man team to watch the area,” said Trudell. “The two most important things are intelligence and logistics. You don’t need the food, water, ammunition to keep those guys going; not to mention these Marines can be used elsewhere. It’s the biggest sell we have.”
The Marines and sailors of the 22nd MEU are currently deployed with Amphibious Squadron 6 aboard the USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and will continue to train and test the MEU’s ability to operate as a cohesive and effective Marine Air Ground Task Force.
The 22nd MEU is a multi-mission capable force comprised of Aviation Combat Element, Marine Tilt Rotor Squadron 263 (Reinforced); Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion 22; Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; and its Command Element.