Communications commander keeps info flowing

Staff Sgt. M. Davis
Kaiserslautern American editor

***image1***From computer support to satellite transmissions, the 435th Communications Group puts their skills to the test daily to make many missions happen.
Keeping information flowing smoothly for more than 43,000 within the KMC and for geographically separated units to enable airpower is the job of Col. Vincent Valdespino, 435th CG commander.
“Our mission is providing world-class C4 (command, control, communications and computers) for the world’s greatest air base and airlift wings, Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, NATO and about 125 tenant units across the KMC, which is a huge footprint,” said the commander, a native of San Antonio. “The group here is terrific! We’ve got great folks taking care of both the deployed and base-level missions 24 hours a day/seven days a week. Readiness, training and modernization are essential, and our Information Technology folks must stay current through upgrade and commercial training to stay on the leading edge in this business or you lose your edge.”
After spending time deployed in support of operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom, Colonel Valdespino observed the important role the Air Force plays in those endeavors.
“I spent last year working in J6 (communications) in Southwest Asia, and I got to see first hand how the Air Force chief of staff’s vision is a reality in today’s terms of air operations,” he said. “We brought a minimum comm footprint forward to the area of operations, but enabled a maximum common air picture back for the Combined Forces Air Component Commander to make real-time decisions to employ airpower. Here at Ramstein, you have to be ready to deploy in Air Expeditionary Force operations and provide in-place service for your customers. I always try to look at it all through the eyes of the war fighter to support both troops forward and the huge deployed in-place in-garrison mission.”
Although the colonel comes from a large family of 10 children, the Air Force has been a secondary family for him.
“An important part of my time in the Air Force is the sense of the Air Force family,” Colonel Valdespino explained. “We perform missions with people. We keep these good people by treating them like valued members of our Air Force family. I’ve learned that in my time in the military, regardless of where I’ve been assigned.”
During his career which has spanned more than 20 years in the military, the commander has learned much from those he has worked with.
“I’ve learned lots from senior mentors over the years,” he said.
“But I learn lots more from the young people in our Air Force … they are smart, energetic and motivated! They are the source of my motivation for what I do and continue to do. It’s been a series of good luck on my part to be working with great folks who were motivated in doing all the right things for all the right reasons for the best interest of the Air Force.”
As a leader one of his philosophies has been, “We are all Airmen first and foremost. I’ve never flown a plane, fired a missile into space, driven an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, but I’m just as much an Airman as any flier,” said the commander. “I try to instill that mantra in my folks … we have to look at our mission, leadership and vision through the eyes of an Airman and war fighter whether deployed forward or deployed in-place at home base … we all enable airpower!