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Cyber Airmen keep Kunsan connected for Korea Flying Training 24

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman James Johnson
  • 8th Fighter WIng Public Affairs

Without connection, there can be no mission, so the 8th Communications Squadron is providing seamless and adaptable communication infrastructure to power Korea Flying Training 2024.

During KFT 24, multiple aircraft, ground units, and support personnel are executing complex training scenarios to employ airpower to deter aggression and defeat any attack against the Alliance.

Behind the scenes of each scenario are 8th CS personnel facilitating coordination between all participants by ensuring lines of communication are open and flowing for commanders to issue orders, receive updates, and synchronize activities across the theater of operation.

“Comm impacts each work center on this base, without comm, you wouldn't be able to send an email or use a network phone line,” said Master Sgt. Craig Kortan, 8th CS radio frequencies operations section chief. “Our job is to make sure every phone call that everybody dials and every email that gets sent on this base goes through,” said Kortan.

At the core of the squadron's responsibilities for the exercise lies the provision of Command and Control (C2) capabilities, including Non-Classified Internet Protocol Router and Secret Internet Protocol Router network services, that are essential for transmitting mission data on the move.

At the tip of the spear is Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Garcia, 8th CS network infrastructure technician, who is a key player in the success of the C2 system.

Garcia says that providing C2 is paramount and that the capability to deploy network infrastructure wherever necessary is fundamental to the mission.

“C2 is essential… being able to spread out and have those capabilities wherever you go is the most valuable capability we provide,” said Garcia.

Although setting up C2 capabilities is the main objective of the squadron’s involvement in KFT 24, their ability to prioritize this task hinges on the support of the rest of the squadron. Throughout the exercise, 8th CS Airmen also maintained base support and regular duties like activating ports, issuing laptops, installing switches, setting up accounts, configuring printers, and actioning help tickets.

“The radio frequencies team gets a ton of support from the entire squadron, even though it might just be a few people that actually go out to set up,” said Kortan. “We couldn’t do any of it without everyone in the squadron chipping in.”

Not only is the squadron assisted by their own members, but KFT 24 facilitated collaboration with the 621st Air Control Squadron personnel from Osan Air Base to enable interoperability with dissimilar aircraft.

Led by 1st Lt. David Gaisford, 621st ACS air battle manager, flights from the 8th CS and 621st ACS integrated Agile Combat Employment practices to support command and control efforts for the influx of air activity at Kusnan AB.

Whether needed down range or on home station the 8th CS finds a way to ensure communications are accessible for our Airmen.

“This is our first time to be able to test our equipment's capabilities," said Gaisford. “This large force exercise allows us to deploy tactical command and control to both the 51st and 8th Fighter Wing.”

As of April 22, the 8th CS has supported 43 different units, more than 1,500 personnel and 80 U.S. and ROK aircraft. The capabilities provided by the 8th CS are essential for military operations like KFT 24, and without the robust communication infrastructure provided by the squadron, the success of the training and similar exercises would be severely compromised.