News: Much more than a 'giant voice'
Story by Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson
UNDISCLOSED LOCATION - Members of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing’s command post said their jobs require self-motivation, critical thinking, time management skills and teamwork to help keep information flowing correctly at their base situated at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.
The 380th AEW command post superintendent also said command post controllers must have the ability to work under pressure to make sure important information is provided to leadership accurately and quickly.
“We do emergency response message handling and coordinate a lot of things,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Eboney Moore, who has 19 years of command post experience and is deployed to the 380th AEW from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. “We get a lot of the same information that the fire department and security forces get but we’re the ones that direct that information up to the commanders so they can make their decisions.”
It’s a career field few Airmen working outside of the specialty are familiar with due to the base command post environment. Controllers work long hours within the security of the command post secluded from the rest of the base populace. The operation of the command post is a 24-hour responsibility with controllers each working twelve-hour shifts.
Moore said controllers are considered the “eyes and ears of the commanders” during their shift work.
During their shift, they may be found communicating mission-related issues as important as aircraft maintenance or flight schedules to the more routine tasks of informing wing personnel of weather advisories and the importance of staying hydrated while working in the summer heat.
The controllers provide much more than a voice to the “giant voice” public address system heard across base.
The command post professionals use a variety of mission-essential equipment including computers, radios and telephones to up-channel the status of equipment and personnel assigned to the base to their leadership. They use the same equipment to send important directions and information back down to the Airmen.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Willie Sloan, a command post controller deployed from his home station of RAF Mildenhall, England, sees the command post serving as the clearinghouse of information needed for base operations.
“There’s no other office where all of the information filters through,” said Sloan. “We get everything that happens on the base and pass it to whoever needs to know.”
The amount of work can change at any moment from a steady to fast pace and might require the controller to work several issues at once.
Air Force Senior Airman Robert Maxwell, a controller deployed from Aviano Air Base, Italy, said he enjoys this time-management aspect of his command post position.
“You have to be on the top of your game,” said Maxwell. “You have to know how to be able to prioritize what’s coming through, because in any given moment you can have four or five events happening and you’ll have to know how to assign a priority to that without even thinking. So there’s always a mental challenge.”
Airmen entering the command post career field attend a 31-day technical training school at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., that provides broad training in command post operations. Graduates of the course then report to their home station to receive more specialized training designed for their mission and location.
The training of a command post controller continues throughout their career as the position requires continual studying and monthly testing to remain certified in their career field.