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Night Shift: key to continuity

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Imagine gears continuously turning, an entity supplied with continuous energy, working for hours on end until desired results are achieved; results that are a product of continuity.

For a combat communication squadron, the mission of getting communications up is the desired result, and the continuous energy is from the effective cycle of available manpower. This also means that half of the team will have to bid the sun farewell temporarily and will then be known as the night shift.

"The importance of having a night shift for a combat communication squadron is twofold," said Capt. Mark Walkusky, 644th Combat Communication Squadron director of operations. "The first would be the initial set up of the site, second part is essentially having that customer support throughout the entire mission."

The squadron has a set amount of time in which they are able to roll out and support an entire air expeditionary wing, if that was the mission set.

"The time frame applies to any mission," said Captain Walkusky. "If we go to an austere environment, that timeline starts the moment we hit the ground and open up those pallets. We can go to an airfield that doesn't have any structures and we provide our own generators, our own tents and get communications up; we are essentially self-sustaining."

Master Sgt. Donald Blume, 644 CBCS network deployed operations noncommissioned officer in charge, said that the men will be exhausted if there was only one shift working a labor intensive task of building a base from ground up.

"Having a night and a day shift allows the men to rest and have people working continuously on the mission at the same time," he said.

Because of the need for continuous set up, Captain Walkusky said that having a night shift is imperative in having continuous customer support throughout the entire mission.

"We'll have that COMM focal point working 24 hours and we'll have customer support capabilities throughout the entire mission," he continued.

"Having a night shift makes this continuous coverage possible," said Sergeant Blume in accordance with Captain Walkusky statements. "Equipment can break or malfunction at any given time. Such an event can either stop or slow the mission down significantly, may it be anything from intelligence acquisition, air craft support to contacting headquarters to pass on information. Having people available 24 hours a day makes repairs faster and allows the mission to run more smoothly."

Sergeant Blume continues on by stressing that the importance of night shift in a deployed environment is not only for communications.

"It extends to security," he said. "The unit needs to always have somebody to go at any given notice. In a deployed environment, anything can happen. You need Airmen to protect both the assets and the other Airmen that are recovering from a 12-hour shift."

Unfortunately, the switch from working during the day to night is not an easy transition.

"The hardest part is rotating to nights," said Sergeant Blume. "For some people it's not seeing the sun. To get through it you just do what you can, have a laugh and lots of caffeine while working on the equipment."

Despite the long nights of fighting drowsiness and having to run security in the dark, Sergeant Blume said that he is grateful to have worked with the Airmen on night shift during Exercise Dragon Thunder.

"Our guys rule," he continued. "They've worked hard, and we did a good job during the exercise. They're the best bunch of guys that I've seen in a long time."