If you can’t communicate, all you’re doing is camping

Story and photo by Capt. Erin Dorrance
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***Telephone conferences, classified e-mails and DSN telephone lines are forms of communication available to approximately 70 U.S. servicemembers located in a remote locations thanks to an eight-person team from the 1st Combat Communications Squadron, 86th Airlift Wing.  

The communications specialists are supporting the Georgian Stability and Sustainment Operation, a European Command-supported training camp located 10 kilometers outside of Tbilisi, Georgia, where U.S. military personnel are training a Georgian brigade for an upcoming deployment to Iraq. 

1st CBCS has supported the operation for two years, said 1st Lt. Keith Ross, communications detachment officer in charge. Although the majority of communications equipment has been set up and working for the past two years, the team is responsible for monitoring the system, upgrading the equipment and ensuring the communications infrastructure is installed for permanent use by the Georgian military.

The team, who is functionally supported by 3rd Air Force, is also preparing to install a public address system at the camp’s firing range, said Lieutenant Ross. The system will provide more safety and control on the range. 

Currently the team is capable of providing 150 telephone lines and 120 e-mail accounts, said Lieutenant Ross. 

Beyond communications, the team has been involved in several facets of the mission.

“Our Airmen have assisted with mass casualty exercises and Hum-vee training,” said Tech. Sgt. Julie Huston, communications detachment non-commissioned officer in charge. “This is a great training environment for all of us.”   

The Airmen have also taken advantage of training in a joint environment.

“This is a very unique opportunity to work closely and support the Army, Marine, Navy and Air Force,” said Lieutenant Ross, who has been assigned to 1st CBCS for 26 months. “Working together helps us understand how our military cultures are different and how to work together to achieve the mission.” 

The joint-training mission provides the Georgian military with essential instruction in medical care, weapon handling and convoy driving as they prepare for their deployment rotation to Iraq, said Lieutenant Ross. Georgia is the largest contributor per capita involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

As Georgia continues to train with U.S. military experts, 1st CBCS experts will support the camp’s communication needs. The squadron’s role in the training camp revalidates their motto, “First in, last out.”