Combat Comm hooks up KMC’s African operations

1st Lt. Elizabeth Culbertson
USAFE News Service

***image1***KIGALI, Rwanda – Anyone who has experienced a power outage or even a
network outage at home station appreciates the necessity of
communications in every facet of accomplishing the mission. When
deployed, that necessity intensifies.

As a “first in, last out” unit, the eight members of the deployed 1st
Combat Communications team from Ramstein are providing critical
connectivity for the 150-person 86th Air Expeditionary Group here.

“This mission couldn’t happen without (combat communication),” said
Capt. Richard Brown, deployed 1st Combat Comm commander. “We had all
systems – secure voice, DSN, video teleconferencing, NIPR and SIPR – up
and running within 24 hours of beginning set-up.”

Combat comm handles tactical communications set-up versus the
day-to-day operations of base communication. The teams handle
short-notice missions and bare-base operations.

The 86th AEG here is supporting the African Union airlift mission and
is scheduled to move 550 AU peacekeepers to the El-Fashir airstrip in
the Darfur region of the Sudan as well as redeploy 200 AU troops back
to Kigali. The mission is part of an international effort by NATO and
the European Union to help the AU significantly expand its presence in
Darfur to halt continuing violence.

The eight combat comm Airmen here represent seven specialties –
communications officer, satellite technician, technical controller,
telephone technician, data technician, power production and radio

Each combat comm Airman has a large responsibility as the sole
available expert on his communications package. Staff Sgt. Rich Bundy,
as the only data technician in the 86th AEG, handles network
infrastructure, software and hardware configuration and network
administration. He stresses the team aspect of combat comm.

“It’s been a team effort since we got here,” said Sergeant Bundy.
“Everyone was working on setting up his package then helping out those
who hadn’t finished.”

New to combat comm and Ramstein AB, he was impressed by the spirit of cooperation at his new squadron.

“One individual in particular stayed at work until 10 p.m. the night
before I left (for this TDY) to ensure I knew how to set up my
communications package. Teamwork – not just out in the field, but back
at home station – that’s what combat comm is about,” said Sergeant
The sentiment was echoed by Captain Brown.

“Only one of these eight Airmen was on the (previous) mission to
Africa, and it’s been very rewarding to see them come together as a
team,” said Captain Brown.

In one-deep positions, the unit is vulnerable to the effects of
sickness or extenuating circumstances that would leave a package expert

“We’ve spent time comparing notes about our jobs so that if something
happens to someone, another person can monitor his system,” said
Sergeant Bundy. “At base comm, you’d only hold one piece of a system,
one small task. Here, you’re the one guy to hold the whole package.”

The communications mission has gotten easier with each operation in
Africa, said Senior Airman Johnny Dao, satellite technician, who has
been on previous missions here.

“With each mission, we’ve become more familiar with what capabilities are needed and how to best fulfill them,” said Airman Dao.

Airman Dao also noticed differences in the Rwandan landscape.
“Since the last time I was here, more roads are paved, sidewalks have been completed, and more grass has been planted,” he said.

One thing that hasn’t changed, he said, is the kindness of the people.
“Everyone is so kind and courteous. I’m glad to be here and contribute to the airlift mission,” said Airman Dao.

“This is an amazing opportunity,” said Sergeant Bundy. “It’s been a
phenomenal experience to be able to come out here and help the African