Military News

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

100th CS Airman keeps base connected

by Gina Randall
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

10/2/2015 - RAF MILDENHALL, England  -- As military members and civilian personnel go about their day-to-day tasks, they may not think about how communication plays such a vital role in their business.

Each time they open an email or place a call, it's the men and women in the 100th Communication Squadron who make it possible.

"I monitor the network status on RAF Mildenhall, and take care of all the phones and video teleconferencing machines," said Staff Sgt. Christerfer James, 100th CS Cyber Transport technician supervisor. "The VTCs are needed so base agencies can video-teleconference with other locations around the globe to provide wartime decision makers briefings, allow people to testify remotely for court proceedings, and help with training requirements. We take care of the secure internet protocol router Network, for all of the secure systems for the base, which processes air tasking orders and other classified communications."

This is a very demanding role as communication is so vital to getting the mission done.

"There's never a typical day in our shop," James said. "We're constantly busy, monitoring the base network. Anything that goes down, we're the first responders to go and fix it. However, we mainly deal with customers moving offices. We have customers requiring new phones and computer drops, where we go out and program the port and patch it, then make sure the phone and computer work. Occasionally, we do have analog lines, but they are being phased out with new technology."

The Airmen are not only able to fix systems in order for people to communicate; they are communicators themselves, building a rapport with customers around base.

"To be honest, the most rewarding thing about my job is not the job itself, it's more the people I get to interact with," said James. "I've been at Mildenhall for about six years now, so I know a lot of people around the base and they know me. Getting to know them and seeing how they do their job gives me a better understanding of what they need. When they do call up and say, 'We need this set-up done relatively soon,' I say 'OK, you need this and this.' I can have everything all planned out so when I go out there I can make it short and sweet and fix everything in one go. The people I meet and can help are definitely what I love about the job."

Even with limited resources they continue to provide quality service with less people.

"We do a lot with a little," James added. "We only have 10 people in our shop right now and we're taking care of the entire base. All of them are well trained, knowledgeable and eager to learn. It's hard trying to manage an entire base with so few people, but we do, and I believe we do a great job! We always perform our customer courtesies each time we go out."

The U.S. military has a good working relationship with their British counterparts.

"We have a great relationship with British Telecom," James said. "They control the fiber and the analog lines on base. So when the customer requests a new fax line and analog line for the building entry point, we ask BT to come out and patch the port. Or if we have a new building we need BT to go out and blow fiber, connecting fiber from one building to another. They come out, run the fiber and test the line. We make sure it's good, install the switch and add our network components to it."

James has the opportunity to know that he's making a difference in keeping the base operating.

He is passionate about what he does for the base, and his country.

"I definitely want to continue in this career field," said James. "I want to see how the Air Force is going to transition from the analog lines to the digital internet protocol address. It's fun, I enjoy coming to work, and I enjoy my job and meeting people. The work can be stressful, but you know there are people to help you out."

His chosen Air Force career will help to find him employment after retirement from the military.

"This career field has more options in the civilian world," James said. "I would like to be in the Air Force for 20 years and I wanted a career field that helps in seeking employment outside. Communications is always thirsty for employment on the outside, new bodies, different ideas."

The 100th CS shop's leadership is proud of what their Airmen and their team do each day.

"Sergeant James has become a lynch-pin in our work center and we are proud to have him with us," said Tech. Sgt. William Baine, 100th CS NCO in charge of Infrastructure. "He has continually shown that he is willing to go the extra mile to ensure our customers have the required communications access they need to never let an air tasking order fail."

Communication makes the mission happen, so for James and his team, they work day and night to provide the best customer support possible to keep pilots in the air and help the people that keep them there.

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