Combat comm team vital in Eager Tiger success

by Staff Sgt. Travis Edwards
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Several service members from Jordan, Turkey and the U.S. participated in a 25-day tactical air exercise competition Oct. 18 to Nov. 1 in Southwest Asia, featuring F-16s from each respective country.

Out of 12 events the U.S. won six, earning them the victory for the exercise.
Helping with the success of the American F-16 Falcons was a 14-member team from the 1st Combat Communications Squadron, which was on hand to build and maintain communications for the Americans.

Under normal circumstances, the team is able to create and sustain  communications, like Internet and phone service, from the ground up
in 72 hours. However, that was not the case for the 13 Airmen working under Capt. Nicholas Stewart, 1st CBCS Combat Support Flight commander.

“Because of some extenuating circumstances, we arrived with the ‘main body’ and not earlier as planned,” Stewart said. “When we touched ground, the Airmen that had been on the ground for a few days were running out of time on their pre-paid cell phones.”

With time against them and seeing the other players get a communication head start, Stewart, along with Tech. Sgt. Dennis Schmidt, the lead NCO for the team, rallied their Airmen to get base communications up and running.

“We had a rather green team. Some of these guys hadn’t deployed before, so it was hard to gauge how they would do,” Stewart said. “But in the end they pulled it off in less than 36 hours. They were amazing.”

Aside from making sure the Internet and phones worked, the combat communications team enabled a total of 96 sorties to be executed and 118 hours flown.

Their efforts had not gone unnoticed either as the commander of Air Force Central Command, Lt. Gen. David Goldfein, handed a challenge coin to one of the heating ventilation and air conditioning Airmen,  Staff Sgt. Jose Dorado.

“This was a record for us,” Schmidt said. “Full comm in 36 hours is nothing short of amazing.”