Tulsa Marine Cryptologic Linguist Fights Insurgents In Afghanistan

Thursday, June 9th 2011, 12:00 pm
By: News On 6

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HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- For the Marines of 2nd Radio Battalion, Task Force Belleau Wood, communication is the key in determining whether or not people they see every day in Afghanistan are friend or foe.

U.S. Marines say it is impossible to tell who the bad guys are. They say the Taliban use farmers, women and children as shields.

Where Radio Battalion makes its money is in giving coalition units indication and warning of insurgent activity.

The battalion consists of linguists like Cpl. Scott Harvey of Tulsa who identify enemy communication and help units identify potential areas of enemy activity.

If they confirm any hostile intentions, they pass the information to the unit they are supporting.

In one instance, Radio Battalion helped stop an improvised explosive device attack by insurgents. Radio Battalion received communication concerning someone burying something on a road.

Looking through a pair of binoculars, Marines were able to spot two men digging. They also spotted wires going into the ground, which indicated the men were burying an IED.

The men were then caught and made to dig up the large pressure plated IED they had just planted.

For Cpl. Harvey, with Operational Command Element 2, Company Charlie, 2nd Radio Battalion, cracking the insurgents' code is not always easy, but when it works, it is a rewarding experience.

"It's difficult adjusting to the local dialect, terminology and phrases," said Harvey. "You have you to find a way to translate that into something that makes sense in English."

Harvey takes pride in the fact that his unit is able to give warning of an attack and ultimately save the lives of Marines.

"We have a direct effect on the situation and the tactical stance of the Marines in the area. There's no one else in the Marine Corps that can do the job that we do," said Cpl Scott Harvey.