SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --
Headquarters Ninth Air Force trained with an integral communication piece of a joint task force (JTF) headquarters before its certification event in December during Staff Exercise (STAFFEX) 18-6 Sept. 24 through 28.
For this round, the 5th Combat Communications Group (CCG) from Robins AFB, Georgia, provided a communication package to help Ninth AF staff exercise in a more “deployed” environment.
“We were the integrated deployable communication for Ninth AF as they transition to a JTF-capable headquarters,” said Capt. Adam Byne, 51st Combat Communications Squadron network operations flight commander and site commander for the STAFFEX. “This was our first iteration for deploying what this JTF [communication package] will be; it’s the initial fielding of what [it will look like].”
For the 5th CCG, this STAFFEX also supplied the opportunity to “showcase a new concept called FCP [flexible communication package] that allows us to … provide a scalable and flexible solution to a range of military options,” Byne explained.
Along with the 51st CBCS, two other squadrons made up the 5th CCG for this exercise -- the 5th Combat Communications Support Squadron that includes civilians from the AF Engineering and Technical Services and the 52nd CBCS. In total, 23 5th CCG Airmen brought two trucks worth of equipment that included nine pallets in all. From day one, the Airmen hit the ground running.
“We got here at 2 p.m. and immediately started setting up,” said Tech. Sgt. Tom Parks, 52nd CBCS radio frequency transmissions system technician who filled several lead roles during the STAFFEX.
Once the night crew went on shift, they had to work against the elements to get set up in time for the exercise.
“We still had remnants of Hurricane Florence, and in between storm surges, we were out there driving rods and getting power set up while in the rain,” Parks continued.
In addition to power and a communication tent, the 5th CCG provided four large tents that comprised the forward JTF headquarters area and a variety of network, voice and data support.
According to Parks, planning also included field training at Robins before the STAFFEX to test the FCP and ensure it would work for the exercise.
Both units will continue to plan and coordinate collectively as they move toward the December exercise. That event will certify Ninth AF as having initial operating capability as a JTF-capable headquarters, codifying everything the unit worked on in the past year after being tasked by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force (CSAF).
“We’ve made significant progress on our journey to develop exceptional leaders who can rapidly integrate into and lead joint teams, and we are within weeks of certifying Ninth Air Force as a core joint task force headquarters and will offer it to the chairman and secretary of defense as part of their new dynamic force employment model,” said CSAF Gen. David L. Goldfein at the September 2018 Air Force Association Air, Space, & Cyber Conference.
The certification events is scheduled for Dec. 9 through 14 and will include Guard and Reserve components, sister service partners, and international partners.