News: Cable and Antenna Maintainers: Keeping the base connected
Story by Tech. Sgt. Joselito Aribuabo
Undisclosed Location - Communication is a vital key to any mission's success and every organization on base relies on it. Commanders rely on communication to monitor their unit’s status and progress and make strategic decisions. Forward units need to be able to report back and coordinate with other units. The 379th Expeditionary Communications Squadron cable and antenna systems shop here, also known as “Cable Dawgs,” make sure all this can happen clearly and securely from anywhere in the world.
“If there was no cable maintenance, accomplishing the mission here would be more difficult due to limited communication capabilities,” said Master Sgt. Jeremy Holcomb, the 379th Expeditionary Communication Squadron Cable and Antenna Systems NCO in charge deployed from MacDill Air Force Base, and hails from Lancaster, Calif. “There would be significant downtime and operations here would be more tactical.”
The cable and antenna maintenance shop is responsible for installing and maintaining the communication infrastructure for networking, telephone, communication and anything dealing with wiring to computers and phones.
“The work we do affects every aspect of daily functions here and ultimately the rest of the world,” Holcomb said. “From keeping planes in the air, providing supplies and service members coming in and out of the AOR, to bombs being dropped in support of our troops down range - none of this would be possible without cable and antenna maintenance installing and maintaining the lines for communication.”
The Cable Dawgs not only install and maintain all the communication lines here at ground level; they also perform preventive maintenance inspections generally every 6 months on communication and antenna towers.
During the preventive maintenance inspections, Cable Dawgs here climb towers hundreds of feet tall to make sure nuts and bolts are on tight and corner pieces of the antennas are secure, explained Airman First Class Matthew Gambal, a 379th ECS cable and antenna technician deployed from Barksdale Air Force Base, Calif. and hails from Caledonia, Miss.
“As Cable Dawgs, we are a very tight knit group and we never work alone, someone is always there looking out for your safety,” he said.
The antenna and cable shop consists of nine military personnel and four civilian contractors maintaining 31,000 pair miles of copper telephone and 9,200 of fiber optic cable for the base. In addition to maintaining cables, the shop processes digging permits and work with planning programs for future expansion.
“The antenna and cable shop is the invisible part of communication since we don’t usually interface with customers directly until connection is lost due to damaged or cut lines,” Holcomb explained.
With new facilities being built all over the base and miles of cables to maintain, the Cable Dawgs are busy keeping the communications flowing and making sure everyone stays connected.
“For this rotation, the goal is to make it better than what it is now,” Holcomb said. “Continue figuring out ways to improve on something that is already working great.”