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644th Combat Communications Squadron keeps Pacific partners connected

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Arielle Vasquez
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
During the first half of Cope North 16, Airmen with the 644th Combat Communications Squadron successfully provided support with the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief portion Feb. 11-17.

The 644th CBCS worked alongside the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, Royal Australian Air Force, Republic of Korea Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force and the Philippine Air Force for CN16, a long-standing exercise designed to enhance multilateral air operations.

During this year's CN16, Airmen deployed off Guam to the nearby islands of Tinian and Rota for the HA/DR portion of the exercise. Rota was used as the hub location to support and provide relief to Tinian, which was fictitiously impacted by an earthquake and tsunami during the training scenario.

“The 644th CBCS delivered world-class communications services to the HA/DR Command Center on Andersen Air Force Base,” said Maj. Christopher Weaver, the 36th Mobility Response Squadron director of operations. “This command center was the nexus of control for the activities simulating disaster relief operations on the islands of Rota and Tinian in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands.”

The command center housed the full spectrum of humanitarian assistance support agencies including aeromedical evacuation, airlift, intelligence, expeditionary medicine, U.S. Agency for International Development and Multi-national Coordination Center.

In order to provide comfortable and efficient working areas for the military members participating in the training scenario, Airmen from the 644th CBCS played a vital role in providing the equipment and tents.

“We provided communications for ground to air radio for personnel in the planning cells to be able to talk to the aircrew,” said Senior Airman Andrew Pope, 644th CBCS client systems technician. “We also set up printers so they are able to print and read the maps to coordinate all the flights.”

The 644th CBCS worked around the clock to ensure mission requirements were met and supported in the event communication equipment broke or is no longer functional. Not only did they support equipment belonging to the Air Force, but also those belonging to the partner nations.

“With the influx of additional equipment and meeting more requests, it presented challenges,” said Tech. Sgt. Andre Williams, 644th Combat Communications Squadron heating, ventilation and air conditioning technician. “We ensured we put measures in place to prevent the circuits from overloading, so everything could continue to run smoothly.”

While overcoming some obstacles during the HA/DR mission, the 644th CBCS Airmen have come to find many rewarding aspects and learning experiences from it.

“This is my first time participating in a HA/DR mission,” said Senior Airman Michael Eyres, 644th CBCS power production technician. “Since our squadron is broken into different sections, it’s interesting to see how all the pieces fit together. Especially once all the foreign nationals arrived, everything was put into perspective.”

Throughout the training, Airmen from the 644th CBCS gained insight into how the HA/DR mission functions, as well as adapting to any circumstances that came their way.

“What I like about this mission is that it allows my guys to exercise their command and control capabilities, as well as the opportunity to practice with our partner nations,” said Maj. Christopher Dauer, 644th Combat Communications Squadron director of operations. “We have deployable communication equipment that is set up to do exactly what needs to be done for support. If we ever need to go out during a real-world response, we are able to do that quickly and effectively to meet requirements around the world.”