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From static to chatter: 386th Expeditionary Communications Squadron clears signal hiccups

  • Published
  • By A1C Natalie Filzen
  • 386 AEW Public Affairs

Communication is an essential component of executing a mission in order for every member to understand what steps to take as a cohesive unit.

It has evolved from spoken word, to letters inscribed in scrolls, then printed in books, to a digital format on our screens. Instead of ink to convey important information, signals are used to carry these vital messages.

The 386th Expeditionary Communications Squadron works with these sophisticated signals daily. These airmen effectively provide enduring and sustainable cyber and communications capabilities to coalition operations at Ali Al Salem and regionally in support of U.S. Central Command’s military objectives.

One of their tools to accomplish this is the communications fly away kit, a self-sufficient suite of deployable equipment, that ensures the non-classified internet protocol router network, or NIPRNet, and secret internet protocol router network can exchange unclassified and classified information in the event that the primary domain communications are down.

“The main purpose of a communications flyway kit is if any base in the area of responsibility or any forward operating base needs communications from effectively nothing. That’s where we come in,” said Staff Sgt. Nathan Griffiths, radio frequency transmission systems specialist with 386th ECS, “It's more of an agile combat employment.”

The ACE concept allows for airmen to overcome obstacles quickly, efficiently and with less hardware, so they can travel lightly and correct the technology on the fly.

“So let's say that the [commander] lost his service, the CFK can provide what he needs,'' said Tech. Sgt. Duane Valdez, section chief of radio frequency transmission. “He can also go to the secure chat line, so he can talk back to U.S. Air Forces Central Command and other bases.”

When the team runs ACE exercises, they are able to go from essentially radio silence to setting up the CFK with a generator and pulling the NIPRnet from the satellite link in under an hour.

The ability of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing to become more agile in their execution is key to maintaining a vigilant and ready posture within AFCENT. The 386th ECS ensures the seamlessness of this operation while accounting for any emergencies that may arise.