ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
It took Alexander Graham Bell almost three years to get the modern telephone up and working. The airmen of the 51st Combat Communications Squadron at Robins Air Force Base have just five days to get their entire communications systems package operational.
During a recent exercise at Robins the squadron trained on packing their kits, establishing a base and providing communication services while working through stressful situations.
“The Air Force requirement is that a communications squadron be packed up and rolling out in under 72 hours once they receive a deployment order, and providing core communications within 48 hours of arriving on location,” said Capt. Adam Byne, 51st CBCS RF Transmissions flight commander. “In this scenario we have limited manning, and in a real world environment we would have more bodies to pull from. And, we still met our goals.
“It’s good to know that we are capable of meeting a very stringent timeline, but that’s something we strive to achieve,” Byne added. “To see our guys do it with limited support, working through some real world issues, it’s a good thing to see.”
For this scenario the 51st set up a large communications package that can support up to 3,000 users anywhere in the world, by providing data support and voice communications, such as person-to-person capabilities over walkie-talkies.
“This is the first time in a long time that the 51st has done a total force exercise,” said 1st Lt. Cody Oakes, 51st CBCS Combat Plans & Support flight commander. “We’ve set up our exercise operations as we would in a real-world environment, from life support operations to force protection missions.”
In addition to normal operations, the unit can extend its services wirelessly during this exercise or in a deployed environment to our customers at an extended site.
The customers in this exercise were 116th Communications Squadron airmen, also based at Robins.
“The 51st has asked us to participate in this exercise, and they provide us the communications to allow us to do our job,” said Master Sgt. Derek Woodard, 116th Communications Squadron Plans and Programs NCOIC. “That gives our team the ability to exercise something we’re going to do real world. A lot of times we don’t get afforded that ability. This gives us the opportunity to exercise that, to train to it and come up with some great scenarios that allow us to be better prepared to do our job in the field.”
Not only did the airmen of the 51st work through different customer-support scenarios, the exercise also provided them with an opportunity to set up and use new equipment.
“A lot of these systems have not really been tested out in the field and will now positively impact the total force community.” Chief Master Sgt. Torry Hickson, 51st CBCS chief enlisted manager, said. “We’re exercising it here, we’re operationalizing it here and now it’s going to roll out to the rest of the force.”