Military News

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Communication Airmen hardwire BALTOPS mission

by Senior Airman Michael Battles
39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

6/11/2015 - POWIDZ, Poland  -- In support of Baltic Operations 2015, a team of Airmen from the 1st Combat Communications Squadron deployed to Powidz Air Base charged with the responsibility of maintaining all communication requirements for the U.S. Air Force at the installation.

BALTOPS is a multinational maritime exercise in Poland, Sweden, Germany, and throughout the Baltic Sea, including participation from 14 NATO and three partner nations taking place June 5-20. BALTOPS is designed to enhance flexibility and interoperability, as well as demonstrate resolve of allied and partner forces to defend the Baltic region.

The three-person team; Staff Sgt. Dean Gage, 1st CBCS cyber systems supervisor, Senior Airman Ian Philips, 1st CBCS tactical network operations technician and Senior Airman Brendan Kennedy, 1st CBCS satellite communications technician, are the sole points of contact for BALTOPS communications at Powidz.

According to SrA Kennedy, upon arrival at a deployment location, the three Airmen work around-the-clock to ensure communications are setup within 24 hours, so all requirements for operations are met and running efficiently before the deployment teams arrives.

"You need communications or nothing will get done," Kennedy said. "We arrive early so that once boots hit the ground, they are good to go. If we didn't, everything would go to a standstill."

During rotational deployments such as BALTOPs each Airmen on the communications team is selected due to their specific skills sets.

"Each one of us comes from a different communications background," Gage said. "We handle completely different communication aspects here at BALTOPS, but those differences are what makes us a well-rounded team."

A large portion of the communication specialists' setup requires the team to establish a link with their home station at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Additionally, the team enables all network capabilities, programs, computers, phones and radio connections.

Along with setting up the initial communications, the team is responsible for resolving any communications issues the 100th, 916th and 507th air refueling wings may have during their 15-day deployment.

"Without us, the missions will go on," Gage said. "But the deployers will have overall limited capabilities. We setup everything from phones to laptops, Wi-Fi and email."

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