This is why coffee machines are banned in the Combat Operations Center - We Are The Mighty
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This is why coffee machines are banned in the Combat Operations Center

The Marine Corps operates continuously in every clime, place, day or night. The heartbeat of the battlefield is the Combat Operations Center. By design it will work with high tech machines or on the move with radios and whiteboards. The Communications Officer is in charge of setting up encryption and making sure the battalion commander has the ability to talk to his officers. Out of all the things that are a threat to readiness, the ‘Comms O’ will always ban the use of coffee machines.

Energy needs of the equipment

Combat Operations Center energy needs are strictly monitored. Every radio, from the PRC-119 (and variants) to the high-powered antennas used at the company level and above. They need a lot of energy to transmit radio waves. Different factors such as line of sight, elevation, interference, distance, and power sources dictate what cannot be used in the COC. The power output increases and decreases to match what is going on in the field. Battery charging is the priority for obvious reasons. It is easy to underestimate the drain a coffee maker can have. If a troop disregards the standard operating procedures, it can easily knock out the topology if it is running at max power to communicate with far flung platoons. The Comms Shop will adjust the power needs for what they expect. A Coffee machine is a wrench in the engine.

combat operations center
There’s no extra time or power for coffee makers here. Wouldn’t it be nice, though?

Ironically the culprits of disregarding the ‘no coffee machines’ ban in COCs are of the brass variety. The higher in the pecking order, the easier it is to dismiss a corporal watching in horror. Luckily, this is what training is for, to do the mistakes in the field and not overseas where they count. Time and time again, without fail, the first field op a battalion conducts will lose comm because an officer gave into the temptation of a hot cup of Joe.

Rock, paper, I out rank you

This one time, an unpopular Comms O, ranted for about 15 minutes to not use coffee machines during a Command and Staff meeting. Unbeknownst to him, the colonel specifically had gourmet coffee packed with the COC gear. Fortunately, the field op was an offense and defense exercise that did not require any live fire training. In the middle of the night a little red night turned on and the COC turned off. From a distance, one heard a rampaging Comms O barreling towards the tent ready to rip the perpetrator in two.

Inside he found the three of top brass fiddling with the machine. Of course, the lower enlisted got the ass chewing for not stopping the colonel and two majors from doing what they wanted. To their credit, the senior officers took the blame for what they caused. The Comms O said that ‘that is not how any of this works’. If they wanted coffee that bad, they could have told him and he would’ve fired up a new generator just for them.

This is one of those things that is learned the hard way that is never included in the ‘lessons learned’ report at the conclusion of a field exercise. It’s a womp, womp moment every unit goes through that they will not admit. The coffee maker is an EMP waiting to happen. It is unofficially accounted for when gauging the battalion’s energy needs. The good news is that it’s a problem identified, corrected, and not repeated past the first op as a unit. The coffee machine is banned unless the Comm O says so.

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