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
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.