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    52nd CS Airmen: Spangdahlem's virtual backbone

    52nd CS Airmen: Spangdahlem's virtual backbone

    Photo By Airman 1st Class Alison Stewart | U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Mario Rivas, 52nd Communications Squadron cyber transport...... read more read more



    Story by Airman 1st Class Alison Stewart 

    52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

    Crises seldom allow for preparation and often disrupt the natural flow of life when it comes to work, school, and every day routines. This was the case for Airmen from the 52nd Communications Squadron, who have been tasked with providing virtual private network capabilities to the entire 52nd Fighter Wing throughout March 2020, a battle started by COVID-19.
    The 52nd CS is responsible for many things when it comes to the communication capabilities of the base, and many people don’t know they are split into different concentrations.
    “There are multiple branches within the CS,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Butora, 52nd CS client systems infrastructure shop supervisor. “The cyber systems technicians deal with computer and application issues. The infrastructure shop in the background works on servers and routers and a lot of the core hardware devices that make the base’s network work. Then there’s the head admin shop that does a lot of server management.”
    To combat the demand for teleworking capabilities to be added to computers across the base, the CS set up a walk-in computer diagnostics clinic.
    “We worked on roughly 170 machines over the course of two days,” said Butora. “We made sure they had wireless cards plugged in and the software enabled.”
    The length of the process varies for the amount of time and effort that goes into setting up each computer.
    “It depends on the machine,” said Butora. “Some issues are super simple and are a quick fix, and other times software gets corrupted and you have to do some deeper troubleshooting. Most issues are resolved within 20 minutes, but some can take a couple hours.”
    With so many tickets coming through not only for VPN issues, but for the spectrum of other issues that come with computers, the stress in the shop has been elevated.
    “There was a large influx of things to do on top of an already large workload,” said Butora. “But we all pulled together and took it one step at a time. If anyone needs help or assistance, the 52nd CS in general is a pretty big cyber community. So if someone is having issues there are multiple other people you can talk to either for work help or just to de-stress and cope with everything that is going on.”
    Butora’s Airmen are finding ways to cope with COVID-19 while managing the workload at the office.
    “I’ve been coping with COVID-19 by cooking for myself and not going to the DFAC as often,” said Airman 1st Class Wesely Carrow, 52nd CS client systems technician. “I do my shopping all in one week and try not to go out much, but I am not too stressed out because I like my job.”
    Airmen in the communications community have also been utilizing their great support system.
    “They stay in contact through chats, and even if members are teleworking you can still reach back to those in the shop to all work together through any problems,” said Butora. “There are less hands around, but the same support is still there.”
    Without the diligent work of the 52nd CS, the 170 people who came through the clinics, and countless others that have been visited by the CS in person, would not have teleworking capabilities.
    Many members on base wouldn’t have had the proper software, or a wireless chip installed so they could plug into their home network, if it wasn’t for the 52nd CS.
    “Not only are we setting people up for teleworking, but we are getting other buildings re-configured so that people can increase their spacing from each other,” said Senior Airman Mario Rivas, 52nd CS cyber transport systems journeyman.
    Rivas said the 52nd CS has been tasked with many projects that involve providing adequate workspaces throughout the 52nd FW that comply with physical distancing measures.
    “We still have multiple projects going on and just finished one for the 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and that’s a pretty big squadron,” said Rivas. “We went out there and patched all of their computers and phones, and configured a brand new switch with cables and fiber so they can move around more freely while still abiding by the physical distancing.”
    The 52nd CS made major contributions to Spangdahlem during the COVID-19 crisis, and is in a way the virtual backbone of the base.
    Butora said there are some things that base members can do to make the transition to teleworking a little easier.
    “There are a limited number of VPN concentrators within the database,” said Butora. “Because everything is channeling through these devices, they can only accept so many people at one time. The Air Force is trying to create more bandwidth, but it is important to know that if you are not doing something on your computer that needs a VPN, try to disconnect when not in use.”



    Date Taken: 04.09.2020
    Date Posted: 04.09.2020 04:04
    Story ID: 366934

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