News>Communications Airmen keep NATO's Baltic air policing mission online
LITHUANIA AIR FORCE AIR BASE, Lithuania – Airman 1st Class Michael Hendrix, a network operation technician for the 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, inventories communications equipment Jan. 4. Airman Hendrix and several other Airmen are deployed from the 1st Combat Communications Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to provide secure and unsecure voice and data communications for the 493rd EFS in support of NATO’s Baltic air policing mission. Airman Hendrix hails from Bellevue, Wash. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)
LITHUANIA AIR FORCE AIR BASE, Lithuania - Staff Sgt. Mark Pauley, a transmission systems technician for the 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, carries an antenna component through the snow after thawing it out Jan. 4. Sergeant Pauley and several other Airmen are deployed from the 1st Combat Communications Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, to provide secure and unsecure voice and data communications for the 493rd EFS in support of NATO’s Baltic air policing mission. Sergeant Pauley calls Morganfield, Ky., home. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch)
by Staff Sgt. Stephen Linch
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
1/7/2011 - LITHUANIA AIR FORCE AIR BASE, Lithuania -- In a world that relies on email, instant messaging, text messaging, the internet and telephone communications, being off-line can bring a halt to day-to-day operations.
Thanks to a team of Airmen deployed from the 1st Combat Communications Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, the 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron does not have to worry about being off-line.
"The Airmen from the 1st CCS may not be from RAF Lakenheath, but they are definitely a part of Team Lakenheath," said Col. William Lewis, 48th Fighter Wing vice commander.
"They are always providing phenomenal communications support everywhere we go."
The 16 communications Airmen deployed to the 493rd EFS provide a variety of communications capabilities in support of the NATO Baltic air policing mission, a mission to provide air sovereignty to Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.
"We have tactically provided the approximately 125 deployed personnel with 24/7 secure, non-secure and commercial internet as well as AFN (American Forces Network), telephone and radio services," said 1st Lt. Tyler Stubbs, 493rd EFS officer in charge of communications. "We are essential to providing the secure command and control reach back capability to the 493rd EFS."
"This allows them to work with NATO to make the critical decisions necessary to defend and maintain the sovereignty of the skies of the Baltic States," he added.
Along with providing mission essential capabilities, the 493rd EFS communications Airmen also make a priority to keep Airmen connected with their friends and family.
"We also provide the services to the deployed personnel that help keep morale up and allow them to talk with their families back home," said Lieutenant Stubbs.
When the combat communications Airmen are not actively engaged in supporting the mission, they can often be found supporting the local community.
"We have worked with the local community in our off-duty time: volunteering at orphanages, visiting schools, providing tours of the base and teaching local nationals how to play baseball," said Lieutenant Stubbs.
Regardless if they are supporting the mission or local nationals, one thing is certain - the combat communications airmen from the 1st CSS will keep NATO's Baltic air policing mission online.
"We're proud to be here, working with our Lithuanian and NATO allies and providing tip of the spear communications support to the successful execution of the mission," he said.