MCAGCC TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- A fundamental change is on the horizon concerning how the Marine Corps sends and receives electronic messages, and that change begins right here aboard MCAGCC.
The Corps is phasing in the Department of Defense-mandated Defense Messaging System to replace the current Automatic Digital Network.
The Marine Corps Communications and Electronics School held a graduation ceremony April 12, sending its first class of 12 DMS-qualified Marines out into the Fleet Marine Force. The Marines were hand picked for the initial DMS class from graduates of MCCES's Entry-Level Small Computer Specialist course.
"This is a unique challenge," said LCpl. Patrick Coffey, 19, of Oswego, N.Y. "No one else has had to deal with the things we're dealing with yet."
Under the old Automatic Digital Network, electronic messages within the Marine Corps went from the sender to a centrally-located communications center, and then on to the recipients. The DMS system makes that process more efficient by moving messages directly from desktop to desktop, effectively cutting out the middle man.
But such a change requires major retooling throughout the Marine Corps, including upgrades in hardware, software, procedures, personnel and facilities, explained GySgt. Eric Krievs, chief DMS instructor, who also organized much of the new course.
Krievs and the rest of the MCCES DMS team first got word from the Marine Corps that they would build a new course from the ground up in July 2000. By February 2001, DMS Class 01-01 was up and running.
"We started from scratch," Krievs said. "We had no rooms, no curriculum and no equipment."
Col. David Maltby, MCCES commanding officer, congratulated the DMS team on getting the high-tech course off the ground on such short notice. He added that, even with such hasty preparation, the new course is the equal of any DMS class currently offered in any of the armed forces.
"The Army and Navy DMS courses are 25 training days, versus 33 training days for Marines," Maltby said. "Since we have to deal with both shipboard and land-based operations, we felt it necessary to teach more rigorous DMS training."
Graduates of MCCES's first DMS class will be dispersed among the 20 communications centers throughout the Marine Corps.
"It's pretty exciting to be a part of something so new," said PFC Dale Secco, 18, of Wheaton, Ill. "It seems like this will be pretty interesting out in the fleet. We're all eager to see where it goes."