Washington Air Guardsmen Provide Long-Haul Communications

Story & Photos Courtesy 256th Combat Communications Squadron   -   Posted Jul, 2001

Once again the Air Guardsmen of the 256th Combat Communications Satellite communications dishSquadron provided support to the annual Northern Edge exercise. The unit specializes in military and commercial telephone service, local and wide-area network connections, message processing, and long haul radio communications.

256th CBCS Unit PatchThe 256th Combat Communications Squadron (CBCS), WA ANG, participated in the Joint Chiefs of Staff exercise Northern Edge 2001, from March 14-30, at the Four Lakes Communications Facility located near Cheney, WA.

Northern Edge 2001 brought together military units assigned in the continental US and throughout the Pacific region to a joint training exercise on central and southern Alaska ranges.It was designed to practice joint operations techniques and procedures, and enhance interoperability among the services. In all, more than 10,000 airmen, soldiers, sailors, marines, coastguardsmen and National Guardsmen participated.

Communication Specialist makes adjustments to equipmentExercise participants served either as aggressor forces or as part of a joint task force responding to a simulated border dispute and subsequent armed conflict between two fictional countries.The exercise began with US image of communications dish national leaders implementing a United National-sponsored resolution to restore peace and regional borders to the embattled region through the use of force. Northern Edge 2001 was the largest exercise planned for Alaska this year.

The 256th CBCS provided the bulk of tactical military communications services for the entire exercise from its location in eastern Washington during the 17-day wargame.

Although the majority of the exercise was conducted in Alaska,Unit members confer on mission details recent advances in communications technology and the realities of the 21st century conflict allowed the 256th CBCS to accomplish much of its communications mission in this exercise from home station without having to physically deploy to the conflict zone.

Sixty-five unit members directly participated in the exercise, along with satellite communications equipment and telephone and computer network operations equipment.

The 256th CBCS set up satellite communications equipment and link up with units located in Alaska, Hawaii and Oregon. Once the satellite connections were in place, the squadron established both secure and non-secure telephone and computer network links with other exercise participants. In keeping with the high-tech threats faced by todays military, aggressor forces involved in the exercise attempted to penetrate the computer networks set up by the squadron in an attempt to disrupt exercise military communications.