ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee, chief of the Air Force Reserve and commander of Air Force Reserve Command, and Chief Master Sgt. Timothy White Jr., senior enlisted advisor to the chief of the Air Force Reserve and command chief master sergeant of AFRC, visited the 55th Combat Communications Squadron, April 29.
The 55th CBCS was participating in the Total Force Expeditionary Communications Rodeo, hosted by the 5th Combat Communications Group here.
The rodeo, over the course of two weeks, provided an opportunity for units in combat communications across the Air Force to gather in a joint environment and practice their skills in a simulated deployed location.
Staff Sgt. Michael Barnes, 55th CBCS cyber transport technician and rodeo participant, said that the rodeo consisted of specialized classes, training scenarios, equipment tests and running though the set-up and tear down of a forward operating base.
However, the best benefit, according to Barnes, was the opportunity to network.
“Coming together like this allows us to network with Airmen in other combat communications units,” he said. “Our shared experiences here will allow us to roll into a deployment already having connections and to already be like family.”
Another benefit of the rodeo was the sharing and exchange of job knowledge and techniques.
According to Airman First Class Marquel Cummings, 55th CBCS cyber transport technician and first-time rodeo participant, learning from others in real-time scenarios showed how there could be more than one solution to any given problem.
“A lot of people have different experiences and different solutions,” Cummings said. “I saw how other units approached problems differently and in a way that never would’ve occurred to me. Now I know and I can use that.”
The rodeo culminated in a visit from the two AFRC senior leaders.
During the visit, Scobee emphasized the importance of combat communications by relaying a story from one of his deployments to the Airmen in attendance.
“When I was in the Gulf War back in 1991, as we set up operations, we made the mistake of thinking that bringing in airplanes was the most important thing,” Scobee said. “It took us two weeks before we could turn a wheel because we did not have communications set up there. That was when I realized, okay, get a viable runway and set up communications. That’s the way it’s got to be.”
Scobee also took the time to recognize high performers in the rodeo for excellence.
Tech. Sgt. James Marsh and Senior Airman Dezhane Lastrapes, 35th Combat Communication Squadron from Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, and Staff Sgt. Joshua Cloud, 23rd Combat Communications Squadron from Travis Air Force Base, California, each received a coin and handshakes from Scobee and White.
Cummings was also a recipient of recognition and a coin from Scobee, after delivering a job brief and answering questions on his role in the combat communications rodeo.
“We make sure everyone and all of the equipment are able to communicate properly in order to sustain mission operations,” Cummings said. “I feel like he understood the importance of our job and how hard we work to make it happen.”
According to Lt. Col. Colin Williams, 55th CBCS commander, the rodeo was a one-of-a-kind exercise that brought together Guard, Reserve and active-duty combat communications units in a simulated deployed location.
“Working with our Total Force partners, we were able to exercise our relationship before we get sent downrange in a real world contingency,” Williams said. “The Airmen of the 55th CBCS, 35th CBCS and 23rd CBCS did an outstanding job over these past two weeks and represented the Reserve community extremely well.”
Other units in attendance were as follows:
Air Force active-duty units; 1st Combat Communications Squadron, 5th Combat Communications Support Squadron, 52nd Combat Communications Squadron and the 85th Engineering Installation Squadron
Air National Guard units; 282nd Combat Communications Squadron and the 283rd Combat Communications Squadron