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North Carolina Air National Guardsmen Grab the Bull by the Horns

  • Published
  • By by Tech. Sgt. Nathan Clark
  • 145th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The Air National Guard is always on the lookout for ways to increase effectiveness for missions in an ever changing world. This past month for the North Carolina Air National Guard’s 263rd Combat Communications Squadron, this meant traveling to Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, for the National Combat Communications Rodeo.

“The Combat Communications (CBC) Rodeo is an opportunity for CBC Units around the world to participate in key training followed by a practical exercise where the newly acquired training can be implemented,” said 2nd Lt. Dustin Absher, a Cyber Operations Officer with the 263rd CBCS. “This is the first time I will be leading a team on an exercise and this is a perfect
opportunity to dive into the essentials of Combat Communications.”

Featuring approximately 120 participants from across the Air Force, Combat Communications units help to build camaraderie with fellow combat communicators.

“It should definitely be an annual event with each unit sending as many personnel as funding will allow,” said Tech. Sgt. Robert Nicholson, a Guardsman with the 263rd Combat Communications Squadron. “Alongside the formal training provided by vendors and other SME’s, the rodeo allows an informal setting for the individual members of our units to meet and
make connections that are normally only made in deployed environments.”

The broad mission of a combat communications unit is to deploy, operate, and maintain strategic emergency communications anywhere in the world whether in peacetime or in a combat oriented environment. This means that they need to be prepared to operate in unfamiliar, unforgiving, and unexpected environments; making the need for networking all the
more important not just in the real world, but also during the rodeo.

“The CBC Rodeo better prepares us to do our mission for the 145th Airlift Wing by showcasing the different equipment used by the Guard, Reserve, and Active Duty Air Force,” said Master Sergeant Christopher Galbraith, a Guardsman with the 263rd Combat Communications Squadron. 

“The opportunity for collaboration is immense. Being able to get help on issues we are facing, as well as providing assistance and training to other units, strengthens our mission capabilities. Finally, the personal introductions we make across the different Combat Communication Squadrons benefit us throughout our careers.  Even though the units are scattered around the world, we are a small community and the odds of seeing one another again is high,” said Galbraith.

“We had many challenges that were felt across all of the units’ radio frequency transmissions sections,” another member of the 263rd Combat Communications Squadron, Master Sgt. Mark Peterson explained, “While these challenges were frustrating at the time, they were very beneficial to the community as a whole. The challenges created a need for all of the units to work together to achieve the objectives set forth by exercise coordinators. Finding solutions to configuration problems, we were able to make connections with all of the other units, creating a larger pool of resources for future collaborations.”

“Different methods, techniques, and viewpoints can be learned and shared with fellow Combat Communications (CBC) personnel in a less critical environment than when deployed. The experience gained in the short time frame of the CBC rodeo would have otherwise taken years
to attain," said Nicholson.