By Tech. Sgt. Heather Salazar, 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 30, 2021
A crew chief assigned to the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron marshals a B-2 Spirit to a parking spot at Lajes Field, Azores, March 22, 2021. After a hot-pit refuel and crew change, the B-2s will team up with a B-1 Lancer, assigned to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, for a Bomber Task Force Europe mission in the High North. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Heather Salazar)
During the Bomber Task Force deployment at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia in Aug. 2020, the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron advanced the Dynamic Force Employment concept by relying on an expeditionary mobile operations center.
During the most recent Bomber Task Force Europe mission, the 393rd EBS relied on the mobile operations center to test themselves against another concept: Agile Combat Employment.
This Bomber Task Force Europe deployment brought together allies and partners from around Europe and allowed two communications teams to come together under a common goal of exemplifying ACE.
“The ACE concept aims to develop Airmen who are adept in disciplines outside of their normal day-to-day duties,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Conant, 393rd EBS commander. “Exercises like this contribute to the evolution of a force of multi-capable Airmen, improving mission readiness and increasing capabilities in less-than-optimal environments.”
Dynamic Force Employment calls for military forces to be operationally unpredictable, while Agile Combat Employment reduces the footprint required to deploy forces on short-notice or no-notice operations.
Utilizing these concepts improves mobility and interoperability with partners and allies while maintaining unpredictability and ensures the U.S. Air Force is ready to deliver combat airpower when called upon.
The mobile operations center is a force multiplier that would not have been possible without the integration of the 1st Combat Communications Squadron and the 509th Communication Squadron.
“This integrated USAFE and Whiteman communications team made bomber history,” added Conant. “The capabilities they brought to this deployment have never been established before in this way. It goes to show that with the right team and the right support, we can really accelerate change, push innovation and provide the warfighter what they need to win.”
The successful employment of the mobile operations center was a team effort.
“This effort was unique for our communications team because we had to coordinate with the 1st Combat Communications Squadron and 1st Air and Space Communications Operations Squadron to support us in a new effort to be a more agile force - and a lot of that relies on the deployable communications we provide,” said Master Sgt. Andrew Steeves, 509th CS special missions flight chief. “I can't speak highly enough of the teams who assisted us and continue to help in our efforts to be a better, more agile force. My team was happy to work side-by-side with them and learn from them.”
After learning some important lessons during the prior BTF at Diego Garcia, the 1st CBCS team focused on applying their newfound knowledge and expertise during the most recent BTF in Europe.
“Combat communications is a unit that deploys to various sites to establish initial communications in a tactical manner. We mainly focus on utilizing our satellite communication capabilities to provide network communication reachback for our customers anywhere in the world,” said Tech. Sgt. Kosal Thim, 1st CBCS alpha team lead. “For the mobile operations center, there was a lot of planning mainly trying to identify the specific network requirements so that we were prepared with the appropriate equipment to satisfy our customer’s requirements.”
According to Steeves, the combat communications team allowed the 393rd EBS to communicate with coalition partners and organizations across the globe from the deployed site. The 1st CBCS also provided the 393rd EBS with the training and experience to make the next BTF even more effective.
While this technical expertise was integral to the employment of the mobile operations center, the teamwork between the 509th CS and the 1st CBCS ensured smooth operations.
“The relationship was great; because they came in greater numbers, they were able to help us get our tents and miscellaneous equipment setup,” added Thim. “Once we established communications, they quickly got their side of the network up and running without any issues...we could not ask for a better team to work with.”
As the 393rd EBS continues to refine the operational functionality of the mobile operations center, its employment with the Bomber Task Force Europe missions has enhanced Air Force Global Strike Command’s flexibility to deliver lethal, long-range strike options to allies and partners across Europe and in the Arctic.