News: 'Stealth Control' concludes deployment
Story by Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson
UNDISCLOSED LOCATION - The Georgians’ home unit is the “Stealth Control” 117th Air Control Squadron based in Savannah, Ga.
The deployed Air National Guardsmen have been performing an air defense mission for the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia for the past six months. Squadron members have been working 24/7 to monitor and identify all air traffic flown in the region.
“We’re making sure that all of our friendly aircraft are talking to us and flying the right routes and the civilian air traffic is flying the right routes,” said Master Sgt. Scott Dublinski, an enlisted weapons director. “We also make sure all of the traffic coming from our adversaries is not getting within certain distances of our aircraft.”
Dublinski serves as an augmentee from the 103rd Air Control Squadron based in Orange, Conn.
The 727th EACS Commander, Lt. Col. Ron Speir, said the Air National Guard provides for more than 50 percent of the command and control air control squadrons for the total force. This has resulted in frequent deployments for his unit since 1999.
“Because the Guard is such a large part of the air control squadron mission set, we are heavily tasked and are a low density, high demand asset,” said Speir.
The Guard unit is made up of many drill-status Guardsmen who serve one weekend a month and two weeks of active duty each year when not activated for a deployment or contingency. Many of these Guardsmen hold full-time civilian jobs in their hometowns or attend college.
Staff Sgt. Lindsey Wagner is a surveillance technician from the 134th Air Control Squadron based at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., and also serves as an augmentee for the deployment.
She works as a preschool teacher in civilian life but was able to find a substitute teacher to cover her job during her five-month deployment.
This was her third deployment and she considered her experience serving with the 727th EACS a positive one.
“I’ve enjoyed it and it’s been a good learning experience,” said Wagner. It’s been tough being away from the kids, but you can’t come out here and not take something away from it.”
A common challenge faced by many Guard units has been encouraging civilian employers to allow time off work for their employees who are Guardsmen and activated for a deployment.
Speir said civilian employers at large were supportive when it came to allowing members of his unit time off to deploy.
He said his unit works closely with the employers of Guardsmen to provide ample notice of any upcoming unit activation. They make sure to inform employers of the event at least nine months to one year from the date of the deployment.
“We’ve had outstanding support in the Georgia area from employers that allow them to take time off their work to come over and do the mission,” said Speir.
Dublinski, who is participating in his fifth deployment, is proud of his service to his nation and state. He considers his mission an important one for the Air National Guard to support and maintain.
“As a Guardsman, I like representing people back home in Connecticut and I take that within my heart,” said Dublinski. “It illustrates the experience level of the Guard. There are not a lot of rookies in the Guard as they’ve been doing it for a long time. There’s also a lot of stability in the Guard that I don’t think a lot of people realize.”