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386 AEW Command Post provides critical support

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Daryn Murphy
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
The often unsung heroes of a deployment sit in a secure bunker monitoring activity all around the base.

The Command Post provides the people of Ali Al Salem Air Base a plethora of information at any given time.

“Our day to day job is dealing with any type of response that the base may go through in terms of fire, accidents, anything out of the ordinary, it's pretty much goes through the command post,” said Senior Airman Craig Davenport, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Command Post emergency actions controller, deployed from Mansfield Lahm Air National Guard Base, Ohio. “Our primary job is to notify all the commanders so they aren't taken off guard. They also can direct us to push out any new information that they want… or any actions that they want to have happen.”

This type of communication is vital to the success of the mission on base and the airspace surrounding it. The command post acts as a centralized hub for dispersing important information to the appropriate agencies.

“We notify everyone and we get all the ball rolling, at least in terms of putting everyone at the ready,” Davenport explained. “As far as day to day, if it's a peaceful day, we are just going through our checklists and making sure that everything is up to date.”

In the early stages of the Afghanistan evacuation of service members and allies, things started changing rapidly for the controllers at the command post.

“I’ve gone to bases and trained, but never had to do the job like this before,” said Senior Airman Keith Christensen, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Command Post controller, deployed from the 103rd Air Wing, Bradley Air National Guard Base, Connecticut. “It was this phone call after that phone call flight after flight… but it's really good experience…and it's just makes you better at your job.”

The command post helped facilitate the movement of over five thousand Afghanistan evacuees and almost ten thousand military personnel. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.. the controllers were in the middle of all the logistics to help ensure mission success.

“The command post really footed the bill for that in a lot of ways. It was a spur of the moment thing the way it came across,” Davenport said while explaining their role in the largest non-combatant evacuation operation in Air Force history. “We were calling commanders…getting orders, disseminating the orders, just really being the hub that we're designed to be in times of crisis.”

The controllers are more confident in their abilities after being thrown curveballs in the past few months. They were able to adapt and overcome when the time came to execute.

“It definitely gets you comfortable, because there were so many situations where you didn’t know exactly what to do and you just have to make some calls and some decisions that you weren't prepared to make,” Christensen said. “You just trust yourself and trust your supervisors, which we have great supervisors here.”

With all the hands-on experience the team has taken in during their deployment, they’ll be able to take back a wealth of knowledge to their respective home units.

“When I return, I will be the only one who has ever deployed out of command post from Mansfield.” Davenport explained. “So as the only controller who has done the real thing, on a day in day out basis, I think I'll have a lot of experience to share.”