MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE- Fla --
In an ever-changing world, it is essential for leaders to make key decisions in real-world time.
For the communication systems operators assigned to the 310th Airlift Squadron, the mission is to ensure communications capabilities in the C-37A Gulfstream are readily available to both military and world leaders, even at 45,000 feet in the air.
“On a daily basis, we provide in-flight communications, which consists of secure and non-secure voice circuits, internet and data connectivity to combatant commanders and other senior Department of Defense leaders,” explained Tech. Sgt Matthew Gardner, a CSO assigned to the 310th AS.
These operators’ efforts not only impact the Air Force, but the nation as a whole.
“Without the services provided by a CSO, our nation’s senior leaders would be unable to communicate during their travels,” said Master Sgt. Phebe Frye, the flight chief of communication systems operators assigned to the 310th AS.
To ensure their services remain available, the CSOs travel with the aircraft.
“On flying days, we arrive extra early [to take-off] to ensure all the required flight gear is prepared and the mission is still scheduled,” said Gardner. “Once we have checked in and have all our required flight gear, then we perform a pre-flight inspection where we conduct an operational check on all of our equipment and ensure it is functioning properly.
“Following the pre-flight inspection, we continue to maintain the communications systems throughout the flight.”
The communications systems aboard the C-37A Gulfstream allow leaders to communicate through various sources, including secure phones, email and the internet.
“The most rewarding part of my job is knowing we were able to provide reliable communication services that facilitate the decisions or actions of our nation’s senior leaders,” said Frye.
At times before, and even during flights, these Airmen must trouble-shoot any equipment issues that may arise.
“The hardest part of our job is ensuring all systems function as required,” said Gardner. “We maintain endless communications with many outside agencies who are constantly watching our systems and assist in keeping us connected.”
Communications systems operators travel the world to ensure the mission gets done. They are always standing by, ready to assist the nation’s leaders at a moment’s notice.
“Every day is something new, different and challenging,” said Frye. “We have been given the opportunity to see parts of the world I would have never had a chance to see on my own. The personnel in my squadron, the people we fly with, and even the people at the destinations we travel to are all incredible.”