Providing COMSEC around the globe
By Staff Sgt. Nick Wilson, 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 05, 2013
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
Many service members have gone on deployments to the Middle East. Others have deployed to countries in Africa and South America.
For Senior Airman Kenneth Scott, 509th Operations Support Squadron combat crew communications technician, his deployment took him across the Pacific Ocean to Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, and then to the deserts of Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
"To me, anytime you deploy the B-2 Spirit out of Missouri, it's a deployment whether we're doing integrated training with other aircraft at Nellis, or going to Guam to show the B-2's capability," said Master Sgt. Keith Harvey, 509th OSS combat crew communications section chief.
Scott said that leaving Whiteman to support the B-2 is still a deployment, even though he isn't on the front lines. His career field supports flight operations by providing radios that allow pilots to communicate with whoever they need to in a moment's notice.
"We make sure aircrew members' equipment is in working order before they fly sorties," Scott said. "We give them support for a wide spectrum of communications systems. They can speak to anyone they need to whether it is air traffic controllers, command post, command and control, or other B-2 aircrew."
Scott said that because of the large amount of information B-2 aircrew need safely to fly their aircraft, it would be impossible for B-2s to be flown without the support of combat crew communications technicians.
"B-2 pilots need updates on things like weather and combat situations to fly their aircraft," Scott said.
Scott said providing communications to the B-2 means bringing his own secure communications equipment with him to perform operations.
"We have a cryptographic system that encrypts and secures the communication equipment the B-2 uses, which allows pilots to speak on secure lines," Scott said. "If the enemy gets access to information pilots relay, it could potentially damage the security of the United States and our military's secrets."
Scott worked 9-to-10-hour shifts while he was in Guam. He was also on standby during hours he wasn't on shift.
"We had to stay on call in case the pilots wanted to fly extra sorties or they needed us to double-check communications equipment after hours," Scott said.
Scott said that in addition to providing crypto for aircrew he also enjoyed the weather in Guam.
"Coming from the blizzard we had at Whiteman, everyone here was excited to put on shorts and T-shirts," Scott said. "It's pretty exciting to be able to go from freezing cold snow to warm, sandy beaches."
Although the temperatures were a lot higher than the below-freezing temperatures of Whiteman, Scott said he experienced a few difficulties with the change in time zones.
"We were 16 hours ahead of the central time zone I live in in the U.S., which had a profound effect on my ability to contact friends and family," Scott said. "They were just waking up as I was going to bed, so I had a very small window of time to work with."
In addition to having to adjust to the time zones, Scott said he also had to think on his feet to adjust to different situations on the job.
"There was a communications system in Guam that needed a specific type of crypto, which we didn't have," Scott said. "So we had to get certain items shipped to us. We had to coordinate with certain Air Force agencies all over the world to get what we needed."
Besides minor setbacks from Guam's geographic location, Scott enjoyed Guam overall. He said it was awesome to see the faces of local nationals as they watched B2s fly by.
"They just stopped everything they were doing to just look at them," Scott said. "It feels good to know I deal with that aircraft on a daily basis. It makes me feel proud of supporting the Air Force and military."
Scott said he enjoyed working with the communications equipment at Nellis, in addition to Guam. He said his mission's impact was equally as critical at Red Flag as it was in Guam.
"It's the same job, but at a different location," Scott said. "That's the mindset I have when I'm sent to perform a temporary duty anywhere. I like to think of it as just tending to business as usual."
Scott said the mission at Red Flag went pretty smoothly since this is his second year supporting the exercise.
"I enjoyed seeing all the different airframes the Air Force and foreign national air forces had," Scott said. "My eyes were wide open. It was really cool to see all the different uniforms other countries' military forces were wearing."
Along with seeing airframes from bases and countries around the world at Red Flag, Scott also got a chance to converse with combat crew technicians from Macdill Air Force Base, Fla.
"I found out that they experience a lot of the same difficulties in their job as web do," Scott said. "It was really surprising for me."
Overall, Scott enjoyed the breadth of experience he got from his deployments to Guam and Nellis.
"It was nice to be away from the monotonous exercise cycles we go through at Whiteman for a while," Scott said. "It's good to get out of the slow pace of the surrounding Knob Noster community and see something different, whether it be the Chumarro culture in Guam or the walks of life in Las Vegas."