Communications, a huge win at Patriot 09

  • Published
  • By Capt LaDonna Singleton
  • 254th Combat Communications Group
The 254th Combat Communications Group took the lead in providing vital communications and computer services for Patriot, a major national joint military exercise conducted during the month of July at several locations throughout the United States.

According to 1st Lt. Terese Barta, Public Affairs Officer, WI ANG, Patriot is the largest joint training exercise sponsored by the National Guard Bureau. National Guard units from across the country participate in scenario-based training events with the U.S. Army and Air Force, together with military personnel from five other countries.
"We provided the preponderance of full spectrum communications to include the lead communications staff, tactical communications and engineering installation at two different sites in Wisconsin, a site in Savannah and here at Garland Air National Guard Station," stated Air National Guard Col. Will Allen, commander of the 254th Combat Communications Group.
"Our primary customer was the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade who lauded our services," stated Allen. "The communications are exceptional with not a single issue being reported at my staff meetings", stated Md. Army National Guard Col. Tim Gowen, commander of the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade. "What a testament of the knowledge and commitment to excellence of our Airmen," stated Allen.
Col. Allen described the overall communications provided by the 254th Combat Communications Group and its aligned squadrons. According to Allen, the 214th Engineering Installation Squadron completed two major installation projects and conducted an Operational Readiness Exercise at Savannah Combat Readiness Training Center, GA. The 221st Combat Communications Squadron provided a full spectrum of communications for the 29th CAB and supported a Homeland Defense Interoperability Exercise at Ft McCoy, WI.
Allen further stated, the 272nd and 219th EIS were at Volk Field and worked some major installation projects and supported a Homeland Defense Interoperability exercise as well. The 254 CCG HQs provided Patriot communications staff support and ran the Joint Communications Command and Control here at Garland ANG Station.
"During Patriot, the JCCC was used to up-channel status reports, communication statistics, situational reports and communication requests to the Patriot director of communications", stated Chief Master Sgt. Ellen Adler, a 254 CCG communications superintendent.
"The 221st gained invaluable experience providing tactical communications support to a U.S. Army combat aviation brigade in a deployed exercise environment. PATRIOT 09 provided us with an excellent venue for demonstrating a wide range of our capabilities as well as a superb training opportunity," stated Air National Guard Lt Col Jeffrey Young, commander 221 CBCS.
Colonel David Stickley, director of communications for the Air National Guard visited with the service members at Patriot. When asked his thoughts on visiting with the airmen of the 221 CBCS, "I've always been impressed with the 221 CBCS," stated Stickley.
"During Patriot, the 221 CBCS developed a test utilizing a communications network to disseminate streaming video", stated Maj. Troy Pou, a 221 CBCS engineer.
Capt. Adam Walker, a 221 CBCS communications officer was responsible for logistics, personnel tracking, spares, and operational standup of communications systems. "I ensured 200 data and phone drops in three different locations five miles apart were installed," stated Walker.
"Patriot enabled me to expose my troops to situations that they normally would not get the opportunity to be exposed to," stated Master Sgt. David Snyder, a 221 CBCS communications NCO.
Capt. Christopher Wimberly, a 221 CBCS communications officer, was the Army Liaison. "I met with director of communications for the 29 CAB and determined their needs and services we could offer during the exercise and in the future," stated Wimberly.
Capt Eric Hayes, a 221 CBCS communications engineer completed network engineering architecture. "Airmen had the opportunity to operate outside of their comfort zone and adapt to changes on the fly," stated Hayes. "We were able to deploy new technology that we haven't previously," Hayes further stated.
"I felt that Patriot was a great opportunity for some of our newer personnel to see how the 221st operates in what would have normally been a tactical environment. I also feel that supporting real customers provides invaluable training and experience," stated Tech. Sgt. Mark Jackson, a 221 CBCS communications NCO.
The 254 CCG also provided both Maj. Samuel McGlynn and Major Don Nguyen as lead planners. Maj. McGlynn was the lead combat communications planner and Maj. Don Nguyen was the engineering installation lead planner. During exercise execution both majors switched hats. Maj. McGlynn was the communications director and Maj. Nguyen was the engineering installation lead planner. Capt. Adam Walker, a 221 CBCS communications officer, worked with the director of communications on "big picture" communications planning.
"As a headquarters staff, we got a chance to exercise our capability to support operations during contingencies and work through processes and reporting structures, this was the first time we did this in a long time," stated McGlynn.
The frequency manager was a big role and was thoroughly exercised by MSgt Stephen Schrup, a 254 CCG communications NCO. "This was a huge job requiring hundreds of frequencies," stated McGlynn.
"Logistics was thoroughly exercised by MSgt "Skip" Gayken, a logistics planner for the 254 CCG as well," McGlynn continued.
"We saw what processes worked and what processed needed improvement. In the end, the lessons learned were captured and up-channeled for the next round," stated McGlynn."
"It was a year around effort. Every week for a year, there was a teleconference for both CBCS and EI as well as three planning conferences. While this was a large effort, it was very rewarding to see it all come together," stated McGlynn.
"The feedback that we got was that it was definitely a worthwhile endeavor. We were able to meet and exceed the training objectives that were set and thus we gained confidence in our ability to perform while at the same time the opportunity to learn," stated McGlynn. "Can't develop confidence in your capability unless you exercise that capability," concluded McGlynn.
Major Nguyen stated that his role is to coordinate with EI Management Teams, workloads, budgetary, and provide training opportunities. "Also, I supported the Patriot J6 as the Liaison Officer for all EI operations between Volk Field and three remote EI Forward Operating Bases during the exercise," further stated Nguyen.
"Patriot provided us the significant valuable benefit of exercising EI management teams in juggling remote teams, managing 26 projects, and executing numerous priorities," stated Nguyen. "I am so fortunate to be a part of this significant exercise where I have observed the EI Warriors mentally and operationally preparing for their future deployments," Nguyen further stated.
The 214 EIS deployed 50 personnel to the Combat Readiness Training Center in Savannah Georgia to participate in Global Patriot. The objectives of the deployment were to train personnel to survive and operate in a combat environment, gain experience deploying various Unit Type Code teams, and install communications for the 165th Airlift Wing.
"Getting to the AOR and back is half the battle," according to Capt. Eagles, communications officer for the 214 EIS. "The logistics involved in moving 50 personnel was more than I expected, it was a great learning experience. The key is detailed planning, teamwork, and thorough communications," Eagles continued.
"We had 56 personnel from our squadron participating in Patriot at Volk Field, who are not only installed the Giant Voice but also a communications infrastructure and network cabling, along with performing antenna maintenance on antenna towers," said Lt. Col. Mark Eubanks, 272nd EIS commander.
Eubanks also stressed the importance of training for real-world scenarios. The troops learned valuable skills which are important for what they do in a deployed environment, but it also translates into great training for their civilian jobs as well.
"It's really a win-win situation for the troops and for their employers," said Eubanks.
"Patriot has helped Airmen understand situations and conditions that they may encounter while in field conditions during real-world deployments overseas," said Senior Master Sgt. Billy Howard, 272nd EIS superintendent.