Nomophobia is the proposed name for a new fear that has surfaced in the digital age — the fear of being without a cellphone or any other means of communication. For many, this level of communication isn’t necessary, but it is vital when it comes to deployed situations.
The 1st Combat Communications Squadron participated in exercise Healthy Thunder from Oct. 24 to Nov. 4, which prepared its Airmen for setting up, maintaining and defending communications while in a deployed location.
“We have the initial communications that get stood up first,” said Capt. Joshua Bergman, 1 CBCS flight commander and a team lead. “We also provide the generator, so we provide power for the different units here.”
The first team was broken down further in to three groups, one of which was the transmission flight. These Airmen set up the first communications, allowing the rest of the teams to complete their missions.
“I make sure we give our infrastructure guys the network capabilities to get computers, phones and all sorts of other comms up,” said Staff Sgt. Al Lotito, 1 CBCS radio frequency transmission systems technician. “Also, we have air-to-ground and ground-to-ground communications, so we’re in charge of making sure we can talk on the ground, to planes from the ground and coordinate movements or strikes. We give that capability to our commander.”
Setting up and maintaining the satellites is an important first step for the success of the mission.
“If we cannot get the established wave path down, the infrastructure guys cannot give us phones,” Lotito said. “If there’s no phones or computers, the mission will fail.”
For these Airmen, exercises like Healthy Thunder not only prepare them for deployments, but also for larger exercises.
“We have big exercises beyond the squadron level that we participate in every so often, so getting the team working on the same page and figuring out how things go together is huge,” Bergman said. “This is very important and we plan on doing plenty of these to get everyone going.”
For many of the Airmen, Healthy Thunder was their first exercise.
“Personally, I hope to learn just how combat comm works,” Bergman said. “I’m relatively new to the unit, so this has been pretty vital to me and a lot of team members who are brand new as well, and this is our first look at what we do as a squadron.”
Despite so many fresh Airmen in the group, the team pulled together to complete their mission.
“They’re working very well,” Bergman said. “This is the first time we’ve done one of these exercises as a team, and they’re doing a good job. As with any exercise, there have been some hiccups, but they’ve handled and overcome them really well.”
Setting up communications was only half the battle during this exercise. It also included a portion where the Airmen had to defend their base.
“You learn things in basic training, but practicing it throughout your career is definitely going to set you up for success should you need it,” Bergman said. “This squadron goes out a lot of the time to the middle of nowhere where there isn’t an existing base, and we’re setting it up. Knowing how to protect it is very important, and that’s what we need to learn from this.”
Teamwork is not only important to complete a mission, but it can help build stronger relationships between Airmen and raise morale.
“This is a blast, it’s the most fun I’ve had in the squadron,” Bergman said. “The planning phase was a little bit of a beast, but once you’re actually out here and you have tents going up and people working hard, morale is the highest I’ve seen it in a while. It’s a real good time.”
While on a deployment, communication is vital to success and the 1 CBCS Airmen engage in the training they need to ensure they can provide that service and keep it defended.