By: Master Sgt. Toby M. Valadie 159th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office
AGUADILLA, Puerto Rico – The Louisiana Air National Guard’s 236th Combat Communications Squadron (CBCS) held their 2014 annual training in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico (formerly Ramey Air Force Base) this month. The unit’s mission was to provide satellite communication links between the Puerto Rico Air National Guard’s 141st Air Control Squadron (ACS) and the Mississippi Air National Guard’s 255th ACS.
Approximately 80 Airmen from the 236th CBCS squadron, based in Hammond, Louisiana, deployed a “Hub/Spoke” satellite network. They created a main operating base with two geographically separated locations operating as one system. The hub was located in Aguadilla with remote sites in Gulfport, Mississippi, and Lajas, Puerto Rico.
The network was created to support both ACS units, providing each of them with secure and unsecure communication needs such as phones, computer network access and viewable radar imagery of aircraft training in the Gulf of Mexico. The 236th deployed a new approach to providing those services to each unit by switching to an IP-based digital network from the traditional analog network.
Not only did the network provide all communication needs for both ACS units, it helped reduce the amount of equipment needed to perform the mission, increased information flow, and delivered greater security, according to Lt. Col. Paul Perron, commander of the 236th CBCS. “[Those in the] combat communication community are a bunch of problem solvers,” Perron said.
As commander, Perron’s three priorities are Airmen development, operational excellence, and mission relevancy. He said this training encompasses all of these priorities and accomplishes his goals.
“The Airmen of the 236th have been working hard to provide all the services that we require for theatre data and communications,” said Lt. Col. Sonny Marcombe, acting commander of the 141st Air Control Squadron. “We were able to get to the final objectives to complete the test of the digital circuit.”
With the network functioning properly it gave Airmen time to train on a radio frequency kit (RFK) and the land mobile radio (LMR) systems. The RFK is a point-to-point wireless communication system that allows them to extend network services for up to 125 miles. The LMR is an IP-based handheld radio capable of communicating to aircraft and also able to connect to satellites.
When deployed, the 236th provides an initial communications package. They have the capability to go anywhere in the world and provide full-spectrum communications for a bare-base within 72 hours of arrival. The 236th has provided communications during several humanitarian deployments in Haiti, Belize and Honduras. At home in Louisiana, they were instrumental in setting up critical communications in the New Orleans area following Hurricane Katrina.