One mile of cable, six pallets of equipment and three days to set up fully functioning communications for a forward base is standard work for members of the 1st Combat Communications Squadron.
About 13 members of the 1st CBCS, headquartered at Ramstein, are working in support of Exercise Viper Lance 2006, a bilateral exercise with members of the Romanian Air Force Aug. 8 to 25. The exercise marks the first time U.S. Air Force
F-16 pilots have trained in the country.
“Our squadron is responsible for deployable, short-notice communications and airfield support for (U.S. Air Forces in Europe),” said 1st Lt. James Curbo, 1st CBCS officer-in-charge of the communications detachment. “We act as the main source of deployable communications in USAFE, and we are sent out to a forward location before the mission arrives.”
The communication detachment provides support for an airfield tactical navigation beacon that planes use for directions and distance; ground-to-air and land mobile radios; and network and phone support for all deployed members.
“The Air Force and combat communications have a good reputation for short-notice taskings in U.S. European Command,” Lieutenant Curbo said. “All of our gear is designed to be transported immediately, so we’re trained and ready to set up a base camp anytime and anywhere.”
Meeting deployed communications needs from remote locations allows Airmen to flex their mental muscle and put their training to excellent use.
“While we’re out here, we get to cover all aspects of our job and actually use the skills we learn in our career field,” said Staff Sgt. Frank Chidester, 1st CBCS data technician. “In the past, I had been ‘stuck’ in a certain area of communications, such as at a help desk or working on network e-mail accounts. But here, I’m able to get my hands dirty out in the field.”
The communication detachment does not consist of just data and radio maintenance technicians – the team has civil engineer squadron members as well.
Each deployed detachment brings an electrical power production member who operates and maintains the generator, and a heating, ventilation and air conditioning maintainer to help keep the computers and equipment cool in the summer sun.
“Before we head out to a location, we ensure our equipment is serviceable and ready to go,” Lieutenant Curbo said.
“It can take anywhere from 72 hours to one to two weeks to prepare for a remote deployment, and we need to bring everything from our own generator and fuel to tents,” he said. “We have a big inventory checklist of equipment to bring along.”