6th CS ensures fail safe communications

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Michael Killian
  • 6 ARW PA

The 6th Communications Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base recently completed an upgrade to the base's phone network, massively upgrading the capabilities of the 6th Air Refueling Wing and reducing the risk of security breaches.

Far from an ordinary hardware update, this undertaking included a full overhaul of an aging system.

The new $750,000 upgrade, now supports double the amount of secure internet calls, raising the capacity from 125 to 250 concurrent calls.

The process of upgrading was anything but easy. It involved meticulous planning and coordination among various entities, including the 6th CS, defense contractors and medical groups.

The technical team overcame these hurdles through relentless effort, including 24-hour shifts, to ensure a smooth transition. This dedication exemplifies the squadron's commitment to the mission and the safety of military personnel.

“We were the technicians who did the hands-on work during the last couple of weeks,” said Senior Airman Tristan Westbay, a cyber transport systems specialist assigned to the 6th CS. “We were speeding to get it done those last couple of days, in a real buzzer beater moment. But the planning was done over the course of two years by our planning department which did a fantastic job.”

The impact of this upgrade extends beyond MacDill. The base's improved capabilities now serve as a template for the rest of the AMC, with six more bases planning similar implementations, totaling an additional $4.5 million investment.

"This upgrade was a crucial step forward, not just for MacDill but for the entire Air Mobility Command.” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Gross the noncommissioned officer in charge of the cyber requirements shop assigned to the 6th CS. “Doubling our DSN call capacity and ensuring fail-safe communications during critical operations marks a significant leap in our operational capabilities and security."

Beyond increased capacity, the upgrade's most significant benefit is its failover capability. The new system ensures 100% redundancy, meaning if one call manager goes offline, an alternative system takes over seamlessly, maintaining uninterrupted service.

“Leadership at MacDill has expressed strong support for the project, acknowledging the initial growing pains but ultimately focusing on the long-term benefits.” Said Gross.

The upgrade not only enhances security and operational efficiency but also offers a more user-friendly interface. The modernized system replaces a dated, complex interface with a web-based, easy-to-navigate platform, facilitating quicker and more efficient operations for all users.

As MacDill AFB moves forward with this advanced communication system, the 6th CS continues to demonstrate its pivotal role in ensuring the security and effectiveness of military operations. The successful implementation of this project stands as a testament to their skill, dedication, and unwavering commitment to supporting the U.S. military's communication needs.