***image1***Massive green satellite dishes pointed straight up Monday beside large Army-green trucks parked behind old Hardened Aircraft Shelters and acres of trees. Wires littered the trampled grass, leading to the green field tent full of secure and nonsecure telephones and computers that are burrowed in hard, black field crates.
The 1st Combat Communications Squadron was training for real-world deployments and practicing for April’s Operational Readiness Inspection by setting up communications between the 20 Airmen at Ramstein and the 25 out in the field at Bitburg, an old U.S. air base.
“Our job is to set up all the comm equipment for those who need it; that would normally be units like the medics or the cops or the command element,” said 1st Lt. Robert Curran, 1st CBCS flight commander. “Whether it is in a hotel, in an urban location or in the most remote airfield in Africa, we have to be able to provide that capability anywhere.”
And anywhere last week was on a patch of grass beside the parking lot of a 40-year-old HAS. The team set up the link between themselves and the rest of their squad at Bitburg through Ramstein’s Standardized Tactical Entry Point.
“The STEP works like a plug that we have to tap into in order to get a connection between each other,” said Master Sgt. Robert Frost, 1st CBCS exercise evaluation technician. “The satellite can hold the multiple links we need to set up full operations.”
“We have to ask (Defense Information Systems Agency) for the best STEP for the mission and they provide us the link,” said Lieutenant Curran. “There are STEPs all over so that when we’re in Africa, the closer STEP may be in the (United States) rather than here at Ramstein.”
The goal for any operation and for an outstanding score during an exercise is to have all the equipment and connections set up within 36 hours.
“Our guys did really well here,” said Sergeant Frost. “They got everything set up in 26 hours, and they did it in MOPP gear, practicing their wartime skills.”
This was tested during two deployments to Rwanda where approximately 150 Ramstein Airmen went to move Africa Union troops into the Sudan.
“Nine guys set up video teleconferencing, fax, phones and computers – secure and nonsecure – in a hotel for those missions,” said Lieutenant Curran. “That’s the smallest element that can perform this operation. During this exercise, we have 20 Airmen setting up the same thing in bare-base conditions.”
The team met the objectives of the exercise and plan to practice at least once a month until the inspection.
“I feel confident we can (achieve an outstanding) during the inspection,” said Lieutenant Curran. “I’m very happy with how we got the services up during this exercise.”