Combat Comm integrates total force in USAFE-AFAFRICA

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Combat communications Airmen, affectionately known as Combat Comm, marked a significant achievement for their career field April 26, 2017, on Ramstein Air Base.

Airmen from active duty, Air Force reserve, and Air National Guard units conducted the first total force integrated exercise for Combat Comm in U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa.

“What we’re showcasing here is a proof of concept showing the Air Force leadership that active duty, guard, and reserve units can work together cohesively to execute any mission, anywhere, and anytime,” said 1st Lt. Nicholas Riascos, 1st CBCS mission planning and operations deputy flight commander.

Riascos said the busy operations tempo prompted the squadron to reach out to USAFE-AFAFRICA to request assistance, especially concerning deployments and exercises. The MAJCOM provided a solution that enabled the 1st CBCS to continue accomplishing its mission without straining its resources.

“A few years ago, we realized that we were overtasked, undermanned, and underequipped … in this area of responsibility for exercise and contingency deployments,” he explained. “We told them we wanted to support (the mission), but we needed help. Total force integration was the answer.”

USAFE-AFAFRICA forwarded the squadron’s request to points of contact for the Air National guard and Air Force reserve, Riascos recalled. Then, Airmen from the 263rd and 55th Combat Communications Squadrons were able to join Ramstein Airmen for the exercise.

Senior Master Sgt. Stephen Rhudy, senior enlisted leader for 263rd CBCS Airmen, expressed thankfulness for being able to participate in the first combat communications team effort in USAFE-AFAFRICA. He explained that he was happy to see his Airmen contribute to such a significant mission.

“We’re very proud that the three different units can bring up communications together,” Rhudy said. “It’s very satisfying to know that our guys can come to the table and bring some things in. It’s also a great opportunity to learn from them, so it’s a give and take.”

Capt. Loring Montague, officer in charge of the 263rd Airmen during the exercise, added that the training served as a chance for active duty, reserve, and guard Airmen to get used to working together, especially in preparation for various missions.

“The exercise allows us to network,” Montague explained. “We are testing our abilities so we can get used to working with them and they get used to working with us. That way, when we get called out for a real-world mission, we aren’t trying to figure it out the first time.”

Combat Communications Airmen help provide secure and reliable communication between units, personnel, headquarters, and even aircraft in challenging environments. They are trained to provide these solutions anywhere their equipment can survive, said Rhudy.

“If we have enough support systems, we can keep our equipment operating in optimal temperatures,” he explained. “As long as it’s not too hot or too cold, we can bring communications virtually anywhere in the world.”

Riascos took pride in being able to lead the first total force combat communications team in USAFE-AFAFRICA, saying he hoped they can pave the way for more integration in the future.

“I’ve got a fantastic group of guys that are professional and proficient,” he said. “I’m more than thrilled to be able to lead this team out the door. They’ve shown me what they bring to the table in this exercise. The fact that they’re able to bring up their communications equipment, the fact that they’re so proficient … to me it’s already impressive and it already carries weight on its own. I know they will be able to execute it anywhere we go.”