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Savannah ANG hosts first ACC combat comms steering group

Savannah ANG hosts first ACC combat comms steering group

U.S. Air Force Maj. Sarah Boone, cyber field training unit commandant, speaks to Air Force leadership within the combat communications community at Savannah Air National Guard Base, Ga., Jan. 31, 2019. This was the first meeting since the transition of the cyber responsibility from Space Command to Air Combat Command. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Amber Williams)

SAVANNAH AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ga. (AFNS) -- A combat communications steering group was hosted here January 29 – February 1. This is the first steering group since Air Combat Command assumed cyber responsibility from Air Force Space Command in July 2018.

Roughly 175 people were present, representing more than 20 squadrons from across the Air Force. Attendees included representatives from the office of the secretary of the Air Force, ACC, National Guard Bureau, United States Air Forces in Europe, Pacific Air Forces and Air Force Reserve Command.

Retired Brig. Gen. Randy Witt, keynote speaker, focused on leadership throughout technology. Witt also emphasized that, “Cyber is the warfighter’s virtual oxygen.”

Also in attendance was Lt. Col. Randolph Witt, 5th Combat Communications Group deputy commander and Randy’s son.

Randolph summarized some of the communications differences from the time his father served in Operation Desert Storm to now.

“Then it was standard to have 25 sites to meet the Air Force communication needs, whereas today you might have the equivalent of one site, in terms of bandwidth,” said Randolph. “Then, the cutting-edge technology was teletype and text-based communications. Now, we have live (remotely-piloted aircraft) feeds.

“The importance of the steering group is realized as we establish the same capabilities across the total force community,” continued Randolph. “This leads to an increase in efficiency by following the same standards, training and processes, leading to smoother turnover in the squadrons and in the field.”

When it comes to total force combat communications, the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard make up almost two thirds of the Air Force’s warfighting capability.

“The Guard, like active duty has a federal mission, but also serves the states in which they are assigned,” said Col. Eric Good, ACC Director of Communications Guard advisor. “We essentially serve two masters – the combatant commanders when deployed and the governors of our respective states at home.”

ACC assumed the cyber responsibility in order to better align with the National Defense Strategy.

“The main advantage is mission alignment,” said Col. Chad Raduege, ACC Cyberspace and Information Dominance director. “When you have career fields, such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and cyber, you get incredible synergy. ACC has a very strong culture of warfighting, which, I think, is great for the domain we are in.”

“Not only is ACC leading the Air Force Total Force integration within combat communications, they are also bringing together the Pacific Forces, European Forces and African Forces to leverage an overall combat communications community,” said Scott Rowley, Royal air force squadron leader, ACC Expeditionary Communications Branch.

During the conference, these communication leaders had the opportunity to visit the Combat Communications Field Training Unit on Savannah Air National Guard Base.

The FTU opened in November 2017. The initial qualification training that new Airmen receive here reduces 18 months of on-the-job-training to a four-week course.

“Hosting the steering group here gives us a unique opportunity to showcase the combat communications FTU and the talents of our exceptional active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve students,” said Maj. Sarah Boone, Combat Communications FTU commandant. “It was inspiring to hear the thoughts of leaders across our community and their commitment to ensuring our Airmen receive quality training and are ready to bring combat capability to the warfighter. I am humbled to be a small part of getting after readiness and preparing our Airmen for the future.

“Through new adaptations in training and technology, I’m looking forward to the challenges that we will be able to overcome within the combat communications career field,” Boone concluded.
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