606th ACS Airmen set up deployed radar site

GEROLSTEIN, Germany -- Airmen from the 606th Air Control Squadron deployed to Gerolstein, Germany, to participate in Eifel Thunder 2011, an operational readiness exercise testing the ability of Airmen to go to a remote location, bring their equipment and set up a deployed radar and satellite communications site, as well as everything else required to survive and accomplish the mission in an isolated environment May 9-16.

While "deployed" to this location, the Airmen also set up a control and reporting center from the ground up, and conducted vehicle, triage and combat readiness training.

"(By) coming out here [the 606th ACS) proved we're able to come out to the field, go to any environment and set up our equipment to provide theater commanders command and control during combat operations," said Maj. John McCann, 606th ACS chief of maintenance.

The 606th ACS can be tasked through U.S. Air Forces in Europe to support theater and combatant commanders in combat operations at a moment's notice.

"This (training) gives us the capability to see where our deficiencies are, train on those and then come back to see if we can improve on those deficiencies," Major McCann said. "Coming out here for the first time in four years, we'll have some deficiencies. This is a first step in getting us back into the mission capability of supporting the combatant commanders."

According to Major McCann, the 606th ACS should be fully mission-capable to control live missions within 72 hours of initial site setup.

The experience of setting up communications and utilizing those communications from the site has already been practiced on base by Airmen from the squadron. Many of them, however, haven't had the experience of convoying to an isolated location and creating a base from scratch.

"That's the big thing for these Airmen coming out here," Major McCann explained. "They've done it before on our back pad (on base). Now we're trying to give them the confidence that we can go anywhere and do the same thing. Hopefully that's what we gain from this, as well."

For the Airmen, convoying to a barren location where they can get a small taste of how a deployment feels helps them feel more confident in their abilities to accomplish their mission.

"I think it's a great way for us to prepare to deploy so that when we actually get to a place where we have to do our mission, we can do everything spot on," said Airman 1st Class James Herer, 606th ACS radio frequency transmission systems and deployed radar apprentice. "Sitting and learning about it on a [PowerPoint presentation] isn't going to prepare you for deploying. It's one thing to sit (back at the shop), and it's another thing to get out in the mud, dirt and sweltering hot sun to actually get the job done."