From tactical to strategic, the command post delivers

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Patrick Evenson
  • 386 AEW Public Affairs

“THIS IS A TEST OF THE GIANT VOICE SYSTEM! THIS IS ONLY A TEST!” To all who are caught outside during this time, they will be enveloped in a blaring tone that pierces every cell of the body. As uncomfortable as this might be for the ear drums, it serves a vital purpose - notification of issues pertinent to the safety and wellbeing of every individual on base. This also might be one of the only times personnel have a direct connection to the operations of the Command Post, or Command and Control Operations. They do however, hold much more responsibility.

The base command and control operations center is the central command point for mission operations. It’s the job of airmen within to ensure operations and communications run efficiently and effectively no matter what.

“We’re the eyes and ears for all things for the wing commander,” said Tech. Sgt. Gingerella, noncommissioned officer in charge of command and control operations for the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing. “Everything from emergency incidents to incidents that affect the overall safety and security of the installation.”

The command post tracks everything from daily flights and mission movements around the theater of operations, to a more classified portion of the job in interacting closely with NATO and joint mission partners.

They provide a safety net of security for the installation, by working closely with the intelligence fusion cell, which includes security forces, intelligence, antiterrorism and the office of special investigations. In doing so they make sure that the wing leadership have the right information so they can make the best determination on how to respond.

The interaction with other bases and government agencies is a recent evolution of the command post. The effects of the reinvented career field is especially felt in the deployed environment.

“Before information was kind of relegated to each section,” said Tech. Sgt. Daniel Sou, NCOIC of systems. “Now everyone has a more combined picture of everything going on. And the more information you have, the more you can act on it.”

The take away from this interoperability of resources is that the airmen who have C2OPS embroidered on their shoulder patch are more involved in the fight and more involved in the decision making process than ever before.

In certain situations, they are empowered and authorized to take certain response actions without going directly to the wing commander, such as if there's a threat to the base, they activate the giant voice automatically to alert the base population.

“We don't ask questions. We don't think twice about it,” said Gingerella. “Sometimes it is a brand new senior airman or a brand new A1C or a brand new staff sergeant in the career field, making that operational decision based on the information they have. So we bear a lot of weight and responsibility.”

“The biggest thing that I've learned is that we are empowered to make decisive decisions,” said Staff Sgt. Lanham Crabtree, NCOIC of command and control operations reports, who cross trained from being a dental assistant in 2021.

“Between 70 to 80% of our [career] field is all retrained NCOs or airmen, so you get that breadth of knowledge and experience from people who maybe were security forces, aircraft maintenance or air traffic control,” said Gingerella.

That’s valuable information for the command post. For a shop that thrives on the tapestry of knowledge that is created from the interoperability mindset, the understanding of every mission on base through the experience of the airmen within can only be an asset to effectiveness.

“Being in this career field is a lot more intriguing than what I felt like I was getting from day-to-day in the dental assisting world,” said Crabtree. “I have a better understanding of the different operations the Air Force employs. Having that understanding, it's a lot easier to wake up and come to work every day.”