Commentary Search

Deployment: a way of life

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Thomas Foster
  • 3rd Joint Communications Squadron
Since September 11, 2001 the word "deployment" has been integrated into our vocabulary like any other word we might use under normal circumstances. Hearing spouses say "My husband is deployed," or seeing a young child at the airport holding a sign that reads "Welcome home Mommy! You're my hero!" are now part of our society.

For many of us that wear the uniform, deployment is a part of our life. We train for it, and our families get ready for it. For the joint service members assigned to the Joint Communications Support Element and the 3rd Joint Communications Squadron, training and mentality revolve around deployment.

The 3rd Joint Communications Squadron has been tasked with supporting several units in the Central Command Area of Operations. The squadron is currently structured into two troops, each troop has two sections, each of which contains 15 or more joint service members, and each section conducts four-month rotations in the CENTCOM AOR. Upon arrival to 3JCS, service members are assigned to troops and sent to the Joint Operations Communications School where they learn technical aspects of our tactical signal equipment, as well as tactical training and Combat Life Saving skills.

Upon completion of this 30 day course, service members are reintegrated back to their respective troops and assigned to a team where they learn their team's dynamics, how they are deployed and the importance of being a team player. The troop leadership is tasked to provide training, classes and exercises that will develop their joint service members into even better leaders. The end product is a Joint Signal Service Member that is able to function during combat and maintain communications during the most stressful of situations regardless of the environment.

The process to deploy a troop into the CENTCOM AOR takes much coordination, and with the assistance of several organizations on MacDill Air Force Base, this process has become efficient and streamlined. The 6th Medical Group does a great job screening every joint service member that will enter any AOR. Deployment briefs that troopers need are conveniently done in one location by numerous organizations that range from legal resources, family readiness group guidance, chaplain services, Military One Source and even spouse support programs.

Once a service member and their team have transitioned into the CENTCOM AOR, they are then integrated into other units while supporting them with critical C4I assets. After four months of being downrange, service members look forward to return to the United State as a combined unit - each team with different experiences and more knowledge than before. Teams get to experience the final phase of deployment when they return to MacDill. They look forward to seeing familiar faces from 3JCS and possibly even seeing a sign created for them by a loved one.

To those of us in a military community, this is our world. This is just another day at the office. For 3JCS, this is the reason we train, and it is that for which our families prepare. This is our way of life.