DVIDS – News – 242 Combat Communications Squadron contributes to historic exercise Northern Strike

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The A-10 “Warthog” has been in service since the late 1970s and was used extensively during the First Gulf War to perform over 8,000 missions. It has excellent maneuverability at low speed and altitude, and it also has short take-off and landing capability. This plane landed on fields of dirt, riverbeds, old airfields, old highways and patches of sand. There’s a place he’s never landed … on an American highway – that is, until now.

Two A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 354th Fighter Squadron, Davis Monthan Air Force Base, two A-10s from the 127th Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard as well as two C-146A Wolfhounds from the Air Force Special Operations Command landed on a National Highway on August 5, 2021, near Alpena, Mich., as part of Northern Strike 21, one of the Defense Department’s largest reserve component readiness exercises.

The hallmark of the formation was that for the first time in history, the Air Force purposely landed modern airplanes on a civilian route in the United States. Squadron at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington.

The squadron deployed a four-person team to support communications for the 168th Air Support Operations Squadron’s mission of coordinating and controlling air support to ground operations.

“When the task was given to Air Combat Command, we looked at the requirements to see if we could support it,” Tech said. Sgt. Jake Cornella, NCO in charge.

“We determined that we could actually support it with our Fly away Communication Kit (CFK) which can support up to 25 users. It’s business as usual for us whenever we help a customer. .

“We always do our best for each task, and during the exercise we had no idea what was going on or its historical significance until two days after the exercise was over,” he said. Cornella said.

The Air Force has really put an emphasis on the Agile Combat Employment concept in which smaller groups of Airmen can quickly deploy to locations with varying degrees of austerity. These kits can fit in a few carrying cases allowing teams to be lighter and lighter.

The various communication packages to choose from are scalable from two members to 50 people.

When the team arrived on site, the first thing to determine was the ideal location to install the satellite dish. Most of the military communications satellites in use are located near the equator, which can cause problems when installing at sites further north, such as Michigan.

“Usually we do a site survey of the proposed area where we plan to install the satellite dish, but we didn’t have that opportunity this time,” said the staff sergeant. Clifford Simpson, a unit radio frequency transmission specialist.

“Because the location of the satellite assigned to us required our dish to be at an extreme angle, I had to first make an educated guess about an open area where I thought it might work, and then from there, I could figure out my angle calculations to see if it was a good spot, ”Simpson said.

“It was very difficult because there were a lot of trees in the area.”

Simpson also explained why it is essential to install the dish first.

“Once I figured out where the satellite dish would go, then we could start installing all the other equipment. Everything revolves around this satellite dish; the rest of the staging is pretty straightforward.”

One of the challenges of satellite communications links during an exercise is the amount of bandwidth allocated to the combat communications team by the Defense Information Systems Agency. DISA places the lowest priority on exercises, and the team can and have even lost satellite connections in the past due to resources being diverted to a higher priority client located elsewhere in the world.

Interestingly, telephone conversations are part of the highest priority network traffic for a customer. A simple phone conversation will put everything else aside, including web pages, file downloads, and other network access to let the call go.

“As our team’s lead planner, I spent over three months coordinating the overall process of managing the required resources and equipment, finalizing customer requirements and transportation to our final destination for exercise, ”said Tech Sgt John Morris of Cyber ​​Transportation Systems. supervisor.

“I really enjoyed planning the aspect of this trip and then seeing how everything went during the exercise. Everyone involved received a great training and was great. This exercise marked the first time. than Cornella as a team’s NCOIC and it didn’t disappoint. “

Exercises like this are designed to give traditional guards a chance to create camaraderie with other members of the unit while gaining a more realistic feel for what it would be like on a deployment or real life situation. . When a team travels to a remote location several miles from home, it forces them to prepare not only for what is needed, but also for what could go wrong.

Once on the pitch, the team must work with what they have brought. It’s not like you can order something online or go to the local hardware store to get what you need to complete the mission. Everyone relies on each other to provide the communication links necessary to get the job done. Without these critical links, the whole exercise risks being considerably crippled.

“I learned so much about being prepared for anything and everything about this exercise and how all the teams interact with each other, from power generation and RF to cyber operations and control specialists. tactical aviation, ”said Airman Elias Newton, cyber transport apprentice. .

Realistic training like this offers the closest thing to operational experience. The more realistic and well-managed the pre-deployment or national operation training, the fewer errors and the more confidence Airmen gain.

“I learned more about this two week rollout than I learned in three months in tech training school and I really got to know the people in my shop a lot better.”

Airmen from 242 Combat Communications Squadron have responded to the call for support several times this year, from the devastating response of COVID-19 to the 59th presidential inauguration. This squadron lived up to its Latin motto “ne plus ultra” or “nothing more beyond”.

Date taken: 09.10.2021
Date posted: 29.09.2021 20:55
Story ID: 406371
Site: we

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