52nd CBCS Special Missions Flight: Two one-of-a-kind AF mission sets call Robins AFB home

  • Published
  • By Kisha Foster Johnson
  • 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office

When President Joe Biden delivered the State of the Union Address in February, members of the 52nd Combat Communications Squadron’s Full Motion Video team from Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, were in Washington, D.C.

They played a key role to help keep Biden, congressional leaders and other guests safe inside the U.S. Capitol.

“We provided security for the address,” said Staff Sgt. Zachary Desselle, 52nd CBCS Full Motion Video team non-commissioned officer in charge. “We operate as a ground component gathering live video from fighter jets that are surveilling an area. Wherever and whenever the president travels, members of our team are there too.”

Desselle said those videos are uploaded in real-time to a secure website for higher level review.

“It’s important to have video just in case something happens,” he said. “If there was a terrorist attack the FBI would need to review the video coverage of the area to develop leads, and we would deliver that video to them.”

The 52nd CBCS FMV team is part of a special flight within the 5th Combat Communications Group. As a whole, 5th CCG is known for rapidly responding and providing communication assets, such as phone, radio and internet support.

Senior Master Sgt. Terense Johnson, 52nd CBCS Special Missions flight chief, said clear and consistent communication is critical to the success of any Air Force mission at home or abroad.

“We are a small mobile team that moves quickly and with short notice,” said Johnson. “The members who are selected to join us are the best of the best. This flight bears the title of special because we are doing things normal communicators don’t do. We’re a high tempo operation.”  

The 52nd CBCS FMV has also given support in other ways. They aided in security surveillance for the recent U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit as well as the funeral service for former President George H.W. Bush.

“Having the opportunity to witness historic events and knowing the real-world impact of what we do is what I like most about my job,” said Desselle. “We are constantly finding new ways to enhance our FMV kits to spread our coverage to assist other agencies. Every day is different and FMV needs to be at the forefront of radio communications to ensure we can provide real time imagery in any environment, and it has been an adventure constantly finding ways to improve.”

Also under Johnson’s purview is another elite group of communications specialists called the Hammer Adaptive Communications Element.

HACE can quickly deploy in a few hours for either military missions or humanitarian aid across the globe.

Their skills are often used in aircraft crashes and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive situations.

“These Airmen also have a unique job duty because it’s the only element of its kind in the Department of Defense,” said Johnnson. “HACE will assist with natural disasters, civil relief and other DoD or Department of Homeland Security emergency operations. They are on stand-by around the clock 24/7/365.”

Just over a year ago, a ribbon cutting was held for the special mission flight’s $1.5 million building renovations.

Johnson said it provided the flight with a better and safer work environment along with more space for personnel and equipment storage.

And though FMV and HACE are two separate mission sets and rarely collaborate on missions, Airmen on both teams are trained to execute each other’s missions.

“It’s pretty exciting never knowing what’s going to happen next,” said Johnson. “We have a great team of selfless Airmen who are doing great things in service to our country.”