MarineNet Access Using A Macbook MarineNet

Getting MarineNet To Work On A Macbook Computer

Anyone who has tried to access MarineNet using a Macbook computer knows that it can be a real headache. Why? BECAUSE IT DOESN”T WORK! Trying to get through all of the pre-TBS courses can be a lot more frustrating than it should be.

MarineNet is a very picky web application that requires lots of security certificates, and what not, to work properly. For the most part, MarineNet is only going to work in Internet Explorer. If you own a Macbook then you have probably discovered that Microsoft stopped supporting OSX as far as IE goes. This is a real pain. If Google, Mozilla, and Apple all managed to develop cross-platform browsers then why couldn’t Microsoft do the same? Simply put, they just didn’t want to. The last version of IE to work on OSX was like version 5.

This little trick doesn’t technically get MarineNet working in OSX, rather it uses emulation to create a Windows environment on top of the host. Doing this you can then run IE. The great thing is that Microsoft actually developed virtual machines specifically for this purpose. So everything outlined here is legal and doesn’t require any questionable special software.

Overview

In a nut shell this is what you have to do:

  1. Install VirtualBox
  2. Open VirtualBox
  3. Close VirtualBox (yes, you have to open it and then close it)
  4. Run a script in the terminal
  5. Launch Windows using VirtualBox

The amount of effort required to do this is minimal, but it will take about an hour when you include download and install time.

Install VirtualBox

You can either download VirtualBox directly by clicking here, or by going to the VirtualBox Downloads page.

It will take a bit of time to download the application.

Run the application and follow the steps to setup the virtual machine. You don’t need to allocate a huge amount of resources to the machine, since the goal is to just run IE.

The defaults should suffice, and lowering the amount of space used to something less than 8GB should be fine (although not tested).

Getting Windows XP With Internet Explorer 8

There are a few options for getting IE. You can choose which version you want to download and install.

I would NOT suggest getting anything greater than version 8 as it will take up a lot more system resources. MarineNet was tested with IE 8 and XP so there shouldn’t be any problems. IE 7 might even be a better option if someone wants to confirm it works with MarineNet.

  1. Open Finder
  2. Select Applications
  3. Search for Terminal
  4. Launch Terminal
  5. Run the following command (one line):

curl -s https://raw.githubusercontent.com/xdissent/ievms/master/ievms.sh | IEVMS_VERSIONS="8" bash

The IEVMS_VERSIONS option allows you to select 7, 8, 9, or you can remove it to install all 3 versions.

This may take a while to run.

The script downloads the Windows OS from Microsoft and then sets up everything automatically with VirtualBox. Therefore, you aren’t downloading some shady Microsoft version. In fact, I looked through the script code and found the exact location where the download is coming from

http://download.microsoft.com/download/C/C/0/CC0BD555-33DD-411E-936B-73AC6F95AE11/IE8-WindowsXP-x86-ENU.exe

Sometimes people are very weary about these sorts of “hacks,” but this is legitimate. You could even even download XP from Microsoft directly and then install it into VirtualBox manually. It isn’t too difficult, but why go through the extra trouble? Just run the script.

Run The Virtual Machine

You now have Windows XP installed along with Internet Explorer 8. To start the new OS just open VirtualBox and launch it from the side panel.

You will see Windows XP starting as if it were running on your own computer. Once it is up you can start using IE to access MarineNet.

30 Day Expiration

Since the VM was developed by Microsoft it should come as no surprise that it’s on a timer. To be exact, there is a 30 day trial period. All you have to do is create a snapshot using the VirtualBox application. Every time you start XP use the snapshot and it’s as if you are just restarting the trial.

If this doesn’t work, you could delete XP from within VirtualBox, and then run the script from earlier to do a fresh reinstall of IE.

Conclusion

This isn’t necessarily an “easy” thing to do, but it’s also not hard. If you can save yourself some time and headache from using the base computers then you might as well go for it.

If there are any questions, post them in the comments section and we can try and work through them.

Candidates Doing Push-ups OCS Workouts

Marine OCS MCMAP Circuit Workout

Throughout Marine OCS candidates are exposed to a small amount of training from the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP). There will be much more MCMAP training at The Basic School. These sessions are generally not very physically intense, since you will only be doing basic punches, kicks, and a few other things. However, there was a very intense workout involving MCMAP that I can recall from my time at OCS. It has been a long time, so parts of this routine may be a little butchered.

MCMAP Circuit Workout

The workout is essentially a circuit filled with body and buddy exercises along with martial arts.

There is going to be something like 8 different stations setup as in the diagram below.

mcmap-workout-diagram

Each station is an exercise with the corners being martial arts related. There are also exercises used when traveling between stations. The distance between stations is about 15-20 meters.

Here is an example set of exercises that closely resembles the ones from OCS:

  1. Lead/Rear Hand Punch –> Buddy Drag to station 2
  2. Crunches –> Buddy Drag to station 3 (partner does it)
  3. Front Kick –> Low Crawl to station 4
  4. Push-ups –> High Crawl to station 5
  5. Uppercut –> Fireman’s Carry to station 6
  6. Squats –> Fireman’s Carry to station 7 (partner does it)
  7. Round Kick –> High Jump to station 8
  8. Burpees –> Lunge to station 1

Time

Each station should last for about 2 minutes. THE PUSH-UPS ARE GOING TO KILL YOU! This doesn’t include the time to takes to travel between stations. The PTI will wait for everyone to reach their station before starting time.

Repetitions

Candidates will do the rotation at least two times with a few minutes to rest in between. If there is extra time you can expect to keep going. That’s just how things go at OCS.

MCMAP Instructions

If you aren’t already familiar with some of the MCMAP techniques you can look at the publication. The moves are simple enough where you can learn them just by reading the instructions. You will get more training and critique at OCS. During the circuit candidates will have pads to use for punching and kicking

Home version

Not everyone out there is going to have the equipment, or even a partner, to do the workout described above. Therefore, you should modify it accordingly to suit your needs and environment. The martial arts exercises can be done without a partner, or pads. If you can’t do the buddy drags and fireman’s carry then just repeat the crawls. There are no excuses when it comes to getting fit.

Improvise, adapt, and overcome

 

Crew Served Weapons Instruction The Basic School

The Basic School: Patrol, Combined Arms, and Crew Served…

There are several Field Exercises that you will have to undergo at The Basic School.  This will provide an overview of the Combined Arms and Patrol FEXes along with a brief note on Crew Served Weapons.

Patrol FEX

Patrolling is basically what it sounds like: organizing a squad to conduct reconnaissance of the area or make contact with the enemy. Your combat order for FEX I gets more complicated than SULE II orders were at Officer Candidates School. Patrol takes it to a whole new level. It’s difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t been introduced to non-OCS combat orders, but to sum it up in a nutshell: with a patrol you have no idea where the enemy is, only a vague idea of what their doing, and your job is to figure out what their up to and disrupt it. You’ll be covering a huge area over the course of about 4 hours, so the level of detail that has to go into your order is overwhelming.

Patrolling itself is exhausting, because you’re walking through incredibly rough terrain carrying 50lbs and up. Every now and then you take enemy contact, enemy indirect fire, or something else that requires you to run. Be prepared to get physically worn down during Patrol FEX. This applies to all FEXes, but patrol FEX especially.

It’s not easy.

Combined Arms FEX

Combined Arms FEX is a great experience. It’s only a day long, but during that day you’ll act as an artillery / mortar forward observer and call for fire on targets 1000-2000 meters away. The sound of the round impacting literally shakes you, even though you’re a mile away. The bleachers by the tower actually shook when a round hit the deck.

As an aside, calling for fire and constructing fire support plans are EXTREMELY important skills both for academic tests and for your tactical billets on FEXes. Spend a lot of time studying them when you get there. Also, if you’ve tossed out artillery as an MOS that you don’t want you should still come to TBS with an open mind.

Learning about Fire Support is one of the most legitimate things you’ll get out of TBS. The Marine Corps’ ability to effectively use IDF assets like artillery and mortars is what allows us to actually practice maneuver warfare and put the bad guys in a combined arms dilemma. When learning it you start actually feeling like an officer with real Warfighting skills.

Crew Served Weapons

Crew Served Weapons Instruction

There are a few introduction classes to crew served weapons organic to infantry, which are basically mortars, medium machine guns (M240), heavy machine guns (M2 .50cal, Mk19 grenade launcher), and various anti-armor weapons (SMAW, Javelin, etc). The ones you’ll actually be employing at TBS are the M240 and possibly the .50cal on patrol FEX, though you’ll learn the basic operations of most of them. There will be a FEX for this as well.

Communications Network Router Communications

Communications School: FEX I, Mastery I, and Certifications

There are 3 components of Communications School that will be covered here. They are all major events and each marks a point of increased pace in the POI.

FEX I: SINGLE CHANNEL RADIO

While Communications School Field Exercises are by no means a nice holiday jaunt, they do involve far less hiking, walking, and otherwise physically wearing yourself down compared to The Basic School. That said, they are incredibly demanding, especially for billet holders.

Here’s how it’s set up.

Your class is split into three groups: RCT-6 (Regimental Combat Team 6), 1/6 (1st Battalion 6th Marines), and 2/6 (2nd Battalion 6th Marines). Essentially, that means a higher (regiment) and two subordinate units (battalions). Students essentially represent the comm platoon for each unit. Each site gets maybe 12 humvees and a 7-ton to play around with, all of which have power amplified radios. A number of man-pack radios, remoting devices, antennas, a COC (combat operations center) tent, generators, and all the gear you need to set up a Command Post is also available.

Each group goes to a different spot in the training area , and attempts to set up comm and talk to each other. Periodically the units will conduct “attacks” (aka, the imaginary grunts are attacking), and the group will have to split into a “tactical” command post and a “main” command post, and leap frog to maintain control of the battle. This is quite a process that requires extensive practice setting everything up, taking it down, packing it into humvees, and setting it up again. All in all, the idea is to simulate supporting your CO (the battalion or regimental commander) with continuous radio comms during kinetic combat operations. As you will discover, this is not an easy task. You’ll spend most of your day troubleshooting a certain net that’s giving you issues or planning your next move.

Bottom line:

  • FEX I = not a lot of sleep
  • Billets are really tough
  • A lot of learning occurs.

MASTERY I

Masteries make up the majority of your grade at comm school. Essentially, you’re given a scenario and come up with a plan. For example:

  • You are the Communications Officer for 4th Marine Regiment
  • You about to invade Country X
  • You are given the ground scheme of maneuver.
  • Plan communications

You’re given about three days to accomplish (e.g., Friday and the weekend). You will spend all three days working if you want to get it done relatively well. As you might expect, it’s not nearly as simple as it sounds.

During that three days come up with a plan, use some systems planning and engineering software to model it, and make a power point with fancy maps and slides. You brief it to a Captain who grades you.

There’s not a lot that can be said about Mastery other than that, because quite a bit of it is a closely guarded secret for integrity purposes. During that 3 day period, you’re literally not allowed to talk to other students about anything comm school related.

DATA / CISCO / CCNA

If you go to comm school, data will hit you fast and hard immediately after your first mastery. As of right now (this may change in the future), Communication Officers cover the CCNA Module 1 certification test in a period of one week. It takes most people about a semester, and you will do it in a week.

A little over half the class failed the certification test and had to try again. It can be done even with no technical background. Study hard and you will be fine.

So what exactly is it that you learn? Basically you learn how to set up computer networks and how the internet works. It’s actually incredibly interesting, but difficult to understand at first. You learn how to plan, install, program, and operate routers, swtiches, and other network equipment. The modern battalion commander has a wide variety of command and control applications available. Programs allow them to see where all their units are, chat, email, or even Skype higher command. Communications Officers learn how to set that up.

In addition to being interesting, this portion of the course also gives you the first part of a major civilian certification from Cisco (the company that provides network hardware for most major corporations), and SERIOUS job credibility should you choose to leave the Marine Corps. People pay good money to get these skills. You’ll get the certifications, and the experience, for free.

Communications Satellite Being Setup Communications

The Start Of Communications School

Before getting too much into communications school, let’s start with what the 0602 MOS is all about. At TBS you learn NOTHING about what Communications Officers actually do. Comm actually has a bad reputation because the one or two classes you get about it are so damn boring, and comm rarely works right when clueless lieutenants are trying to use it.

All in all, if you went through TBS with no outside knowledge of what the job is all about, you would really have no good reason at all to pick it.

WHAT DOES A COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER DO?

Communications Officers “enable command and control.”

What this means is that it’s our job to plan and set up the means by which the commander is going to develop his situational awareness and give orders to his subordinates. For example, planning and setting up a vast array of technical systems: various radios that work on different frequencies, computers, and satellite communications. For instance, several of our radios can be hooked up to a computer to transmit data instead of voice. Let’s say you have a recon unit out at a listening post. An enemy convoy drives by, and they take a picture of it. They can send that picture back to the Chain of Command via radio.

It would be impossible to go into full detail of the capabilities that comm can provide to the commander. Suffice to say that with rapidly developing technology it’s a vast, growing, and really engaging field.

So that’s what comm provides, but what does a Communications Officer do?

They are a unique kind of officer in that they wear two hats. An infantry battalion’s 0602 is simultaneously a staff officer (the S-6) and a platoon commander (in charge of about 60 Marines).

Communications Satellite Being Setup

As a staff officer, you’re responsible for working with the rest of the battalion staff to plan operations; obviously your job is to plan the comm side of the operation. At communications school, you’ll be one of the few 2ndLt’s that gets schooled up on the Marine Corps Planning Process, or MCPP, which is essentially how a staff writes an Operations Order at the battalion level and higher.

As a platoon commander, you’ll have anywhere from 60-80 Marines under your charge. They’ll be split up into sections, such as radio, data, and wire. Each section will have a chief (probably a SSgt), and your platoon will have a comm chief (probably a MSgt). That’s a wealth of knowledge, experience, and leadership to rely on and learn from.

The opportunity to be a staff officer (where your peers on the staff will be senior 1stLts, Captains, and Majors), and a platoon commander with 4 subordinate SNCOs to rely on and learn from is truly unique. Combine this with an interesting, technical, and increasingly important skill set, and the MOS becomes even more exciting.

Now, infantry battalions aren’t the only places that 0602’s can go, so you can expect even more available opportunities.

COMMUNICATIONS SCHOOL

First of all, it’s much less miserable and daunting then The Basic School. Although, this is true with just about every MOS school except Infantry Officer Course (IOC).

It seems that once you hit your MOS school, the “evaluating” issue is less important than it was at OCS (where they were trying to see if they even wanted you or not), and TBS (where your standing determined your MOS and future career). At communications school, they just want you to learn the material so you can be a good at the job. The staff of mainly Captains are extremely accessible, friendly, and knowledgeable.

All that said, it’s definitely a tough course. A lot of information is condensed into a relatively short period of time. Six months is SHORT compared to the information we’re expected to absorb. The POI is divided into “annexes” that cover specific aspects of comm. For instances, the end of the Bravo annex is about single channel radio.

There are 3 Field Exercises, which will be covered in later posts.

Communications school was located in Quantico on mainside. It has since been moved to 29 Palms. The location of the MOS school shouldn’t drastically affect your decision, but those with families may be concerned about living 6 months in the desert.