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Communications essential part of Joint Red Flag operations

by Staff Sgt. Angel L. Casaigne Jr.
Joint Red Flag Joint Information Bureau

3/31/2005 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFPN)  -- Airmen of the Air Force Forces Communications and Control Center in the Combined Air and Space Operations Center here are meeting the challenges presented at Joint Red Flag, a U.S. Joint Forces Command exercise.

To allow the thousands of people at 44 sites across the county to come together during the nation’s largest integrated exercise, communication must be timely and reliable, officials said.

“The CAOC is a weapon system and the communications personnel in it act as the crew chiefs,” said Col. Wayne Scott, the control center commander.

“We’re responsible for the execution, monitoring and repair of all communication networks...” Colonel Scott said. “All the data networks, telephones, radios, and command and control systems here are monitored by us all day, every day.”

Additionally, Colonel Scott said the control center handles technical requests from within the CAOC for items such as e-mail, computer and printing problems.

Without the communications network and support tying all of these sites together, there would be no Joint Red Flag. All the individual exercises that comprise the flag would be just that, individual exercises, Colonel Scott said.

An operation such as this takes the work of many qualified people, he said. Although the CAOC here was designed for exercises on a wide scale, the builders could not have ever imagined the scope of the Joint Red Flag.

Communication between forward operating locations is critical, said 1st Lt. David Fishman, the control center day-shift crew commander.

His crews coordinate with their Army counterparts to ensure secure information flows freely between the joint locations.

“(They) have to be able to talk to one another. When something causes the communications between them to go down, they contact us, and we all work together to get them back up again,” Lieutenant Fishman said. (Courtesy of Air Combat Command News Service)