BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan --
Forward deployed from Southwest Asia, Airmen of the 85th
Engineering and Installation Squadron from Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi,
travel throughout the U.S. Air Force Central Command area of responsibility
completing communications ventures required to facilitate secure operations
The 85 EIS is a unique entity among Air Force communications squadrons.
Airmen assigned to this one-of-a-kind unit are not only responsible for wiring
intricate communications systems, but altering structures to accommodate their
“We are the only active duty EIS in the Air Force,” Pitts said. “We
go on temporary duty assignments all over the world doing anything from
building towers, to climbing towers to install antennas; anything from setting
manhole duct systems in the ground, to doing indoor communication
infrastructure. We do it all.”
Comprised of approximately 135 Airmen, members of the 85 EIS spend
upwards of 200 days traveling each year.
“Our squadron motto is ‘worldwide, with pride,’ Pitts continued.
“We try to live by that. Members of our squadron complete high-value projects
across the globe. We take extreme pride in that mission.”
Perhaps the most crucial aspect of their operation, 85 EIS Airmen are
charged with ensuring Emissions Security standards are adhered to on each of
their project sites. EMSEC is the practice by which the Air Force
thwarts enemy attempts to intercept and exploit classified, and in some instances
unclassified, information by containing compromising emanations within an
“There are very specific requirements governing the proximity and
position of network cables that transmit classified and unclassified data,”
Pitts said. “We are responsible for conducting installs that are up to code so
that valuable information continues to be safeguarded.”
Though Airmen of the 85 EIS work behind the scenes, their mission
has a direct impact on events taking place beyond Bagram Airfield.
“If we don’t make it impossible for them, the enemy could obtain
secure information through unsecure means,” Pitts said. “We may be handling
wires and cables, but in reality we’re dealing with potential lives and the
safety of the Air Force’s most valuable assets: its Airmen.”