386th command post monitors fight against ISIS

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Andrew Park
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Managing a unit as busy as the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing requires careful coordination between a multitude of entities to ensure it can effectively complete its mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. In order for the wing to deliver decisive airpower against ISIS, it needs a nerve center to track operations. It needs a command post.

The command post’s role in the wing’s mission is two-fold. Internally, they work with agencies to ensure the safety of service members around the wing. This can include coordinating with responders in emergency situations around base or gathering information on aircraft repair status. Externally, they monitor the inbound and outbound flights carrying warfighters and supplies to and from the frontlines in the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility.

“We like to describe ourselves as the eyes and ears of the commander,” said Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Barber, 386th AEW command and control systems NCO in charge. “If anything happens on base, we get the information from different agencies and we up channel it to leadership so they can make informed and strategic decisions.”

The command post is responsible for two different channels by which information travels around the wing. One channel notifies wing leadership of potential issues, while the other notifies the base of orders issued by leadership, said Barber.

“Our mantra essentially is alert, direct, report,” explained Senior Airman Laurin Curtis, a 386th AEW emergency action controller. “Our main focus in the command post is communication.”

“The information we receive – whether it be from first responders or higher headquarters – we disseminate to the base populace or to the commander so he can make his decision,” she added. “We’re really kind of a go-between from leadership to higher headquarters and down the chain of command.”

The advantage of having a command post is that it serves as a single point of collection for information, where it can be prioritized and verified for accuracy. This advantage also proves to be the most challenging aspect of the job, as personnel must filter information they receive before passing it on to wing leadership, said Barber.

One scenario Barber used to describe this situation is something as simple as a cordon radius being miscalculated. One agency may report the cordon as being 300 feet, while another reports it as only 200 feet. This mismatch in this information could negatively affect the commander’s decision, which ultimately impacts mission effectiveness.

“Our job is to get all the information and make sure it’s as accurate as possible to pass it to leadership so they can make the most informed decision,” Barber said.

To ensure leadership is receiving the most accurate information, command post personnel are trained and certified to handle a vast array of situations. What’s more, each person who works in the command post is trained exactly the same way, which contributes to the section’s consistency in getting the most accurate information to leadership, said Barber.

“One thing I think that I’m really fortunate in is to be able to see the mission as a whole from a bird’s eye view working with the leadership and being able to see what our mission is and how we coordinate different parts of the mission and how those get disseminated down the chain,” said Curtis. “It’s really kind of a privilege to see.”