Combat crew communication secures secrets

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Brandon Esau
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Anytime, day or night, KC-135 Stratotankers and other transient aircraft that pass through RAF Mildenhall hold vital communication codes which allow the team to get the mission done.

This critical information is organized, packaged and passed onto aircrews by Airmen from the 100th Operations Support Squadron combat crew communications team, and securing messages is the name of the game.

“Our main purpose is to keep all of the communication secure between our jets and those we’re in partnership with,” said Staff Sgt. Jordan Wentzel, 100th OSS NCO-in-charge combat crew communications. “With the jet being practically anywhere at any time, we don’t want our adversaries to hear what we’ve got going on in the air.”

Combat crew communications Airmen are essential to the mission of communication security and protecting aircrews in the sky. COMSEC prevents unauthorized access to communication traffic and is maintained through three main components: cryptographic, physical and transmission security.

The shop is also tasked with other duties, such as providing training to 351st Air Refueling Squadron Airmen on how to handle communications on the road.

“We train individual personnel, whether it be pilots, boom operators or other aircrew members how to use equipment we provide for them, and how to protect it while at home station or deployed.”

Lieutenant Colonel Brandon Lauret, 100th OSS commander, stated how important this shop is to the mission.

“Combat Crew Communications is vitally important to the warfighting mission,” Lauret said. “They work 24/7/365 to ensure global communications stay secure and the mission isn’t compromised. We absolutely couldn’t be effective without their ceaseless efforts.”

Wentzel described how providing the correct material to aircrew members is vital in helping them to communicate securely or identify themselves as a friend or foes to other U.S. and NATO forces in the European and African area of responsibility.

“If we don’t do our job, the jets don’t fly,” Wentzel said. “All of the information our aircrews carry, even during one mission, is of the most vital importance for not only their safety and security, but that of the RAF Mildenhall mission and those of our allies in the region.”