Not just about the network

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Robert "Silent Bob" Schroeter
  • 22nd Communications Squadron commander
The 22nd Communications Squadron touches every aspect of the 22nd Air Refueling Wing to accomplish the mission quickly and effectively.

However, the communications squadron is more than just the computers at Airmen's desks or the network that allows communication with others - the 22nd CS focuses on all forms of communication and the need to protect the information within.

The main mission of the 22nd ARW is to provide KC-135 Stratotanker support to global operations, whether they are wartime or peacetime operations. The runway systems that help our KC-135s take off and land in adverse weather are maintained by 22nd CS Airmen. This no-fail mission helped the wing achieve its 63 thousand flying hours last year. They did this by maintaining an impressive 99.7 percent uptime rate, leading the command for two years straight.

The communications links between our tankers and refueling customers are encrypted to help determine friend or foe and to allow the smooth transfer of fuel. This critical links benefits from the hard work of 22nd CS Airmen. The Airmen in the communications security section collect and distribute the secure communication keys needed to accomplish this critical connection. The keys also provide the security for the wing's classified links on land. The thousands of pounds of cryptography they handle in a year ensure our command and control and ability to communicate jointly.

The 22nd CS provides support to push our wing toward the Air Force's paperless vision. We do this through our knowledge operations section. This section provides oversight and expertise for converting much of our business processes from paper to electronic. Not only does this include our daily evaluation and decoration process, but also our records management process throughout the base.

Electronic records management has been gaining focus since the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980. We continue to work towards that goal and push all the groups through site assistance visits and converting the wing's official archived records to electronic form.

One of the largest threats to our Airmen these days is identity theft. The records management shop, within the 22nd CS, ensures the 22nd ARW protects its Airmen by following federal mandates to protect personal information, specifically OMB memo, M-07-16 "Safeguarding Against and Responding to the Breach of Personally Identifiable Information."

Imagine the kind of focus an Airman on the flightline might have while working on a plane, if he is going through personal struggles because someone is racking up debt in their name, because they got their social security number and other information from a sheet of paper found in the garbage or left in an unprotected folder on a shared drive.

Everyone can be sure that McConnell is in the top 10 percent of the Air Force in how we accomplish this very important mission.

Even as the Air Force becomes paperless and most people, if not all, communicate with each other electronically - such as via e-mail, texting and social media sites - the 22nd CS maintains and operates a mail center. Although not an official post office, the mail center serves as the hub for all official mail and personal mail for our dorm and transient residents. The mail center has handled more than 265 thousand pieces of personal mail and more than 92 thousand pieces of official mail on base for the past two years, supporting those official functions that have not yet transferred electronically, along with the morale and welfare of our Airmen.

The 22nd CS is about more than just supporting your email, internet and computers. We provide a multitude of services behind the scenes that ensures the mission of the largest KC-135 wing worldwide.