Combat Comm supports 40-year UN resolution

The last 1st Combat Communications Squadron team, deployed in support of UN Resolutions 1970 and 1973, returned Nov. 17.

As the U.S. joined its NATO allies and the Arab League eight months ago in enforcing a 679,000-square-mile no-fly zone over Libya, the squadron sent out teams to six operating locations, providing the coalition tactical communications capabilities.

During that time, the squadron’s efforts enabled 26,500 aircraft sorties for operations Odyssey Dawn and Unified Protector.

Although NATO communications capabilities already existed at Morón Air Base, Spain, at the start of Odyssey Dawn, the facilities were not prepared for the additional aircraft wing. As a result, the squadron’s first team deployed to stand up support for the 313th Air Expeditionary Refueling Wing.

The 21-Airmen team sustained aircrews for an additional 40 aircraft at the base.
The 1st CBCS enabled command and control capabilities to the 457th Air Expeditionary Group at Rota Naval Air Station, Spain. The 22 team members arrived to set up full communications capabilities in March. By mid April, the team redeployed to Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Greece, in support of the 500-member 322nd AEG.

“We were supporting the largest intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance contingent in U.S. Air Force history,” said 1st Lt. E. Miranda Hernandez, the team’s officer in charge. “It was a great example of the U.S. working with its NATO allies.”

Another team was tasked to stand up communications capabilities for the Combined Air Operations Center, Poggio Renatico, Italy. This team was responsible for providing communications capabilities to mission planners and high-level decision makers for more than 20,000 missions.

Additionally, over a six-month span, 20 Airmen on site provided communications support for 180 sorties specifically tasked with protecting civilians — and another 386 missions to offer humanitarian aid.

An additional eight Airmen were assigned to further develop the existing network infrastructure at the Allied Air Command Izmir Headquarters, Izmir, Turkey. The team extended the network to meet the operation’s growing requirements and provided communications support for more than 120 aircrews.

The team that returned from Istres, France, Nov. 17, originally deployed to support the 351st Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron.

“It was incredibly fast paced. We were the closest refueling squadron to the targets and provided one quarter of the refueling for all 14 countries involved in the operation,” said Senior Master Sgt. Patrick Rippy, the team lead.

The squadron also deployed an 18-man team to stand up an operating location for the Air Force’s Combat Search and Rescue team on May 2. The facilities provided the 347th AEG both an operating location and the opportunity to train with Hellenic Combat Search and Rescue personnel.

Ultimately, 1st CBCS was the Department of Defense’s sole mobile communications provider for Unified Protector.

“We were involved from the beginning. The mission planning, personnel readiness and the ensuing deployments enabled us to give our best to the conflict and to ply our craft to the mission from Day One,” said Lt. Col. Keith Mueller, 1st CBCS commander. “We helped a desperate nation this year. We helped to save innocent lives. That’s the job we love. Being first in and last out is our credo and we live it.”

(Courtesy of the 1st Combat Communications Squadron)