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Combat communicators essential to the warfighter

31st Combat Communications Squadron -- Being a combat communicator in the 31st Combat Communications Squadron brings with it the true essence of being a warfighter. 

The 3rd Combat Communications Group, or 3rd Herd, takes the saying, "Train like you fight," to the next level. Training starts with the Combat Communications Readiness School, which every member of the 3rd Herd must attend. 

In the school, Airmen learn combat and survival tactics designed to not only prepare them for life in a combat environment, but also to improve their ability to survive the unpredictable situations faced during the global war on terrorism. 

Combat communicators are constantly training for bare base deployments and contingency deployments such as hurricane relief. The 31st CCS is meeting the challenge of ever increasing operational tempo and deployment schedules head on. 

The unit is finishing up four weeks of preparing personnel and equipment to support the deployment tasking Eastern Falcon/Eager Tiger with a backyard training exercise. This is their second deployment tasking since March. 

For this deployment, the unit's mission is to deploy a bare base communications infrastructure for a multination combat flying exercise held in Kuwait and Jordan. 

"Our mission is to supply the critical communications backbone needed for command and control; for not only ground to ground (phones and Internet) but also air to ground communications needed to fly successful air sorties," said Master Sgt. Joey LeRoy. 

The members of the 31st CCS, or "Red Bulls" as they like to be called, will be setting up bare base communications infrastructures for two separate bases. They will deploy with enough equipment and resources to design, build and maintain two separate base communications networks with all the capabilities available at home station. 

"It's critical that when we plan for a bare base deployment we take any possible situation into consideration; because when you are half way around the world, you can't go to Radio Shack to get that critical connector or cable needed for the base commander's computer," Senior Airman Daniel Ives pointed out. 

Due to the critical nature of such missions, 3rd Herd members have to take extra care in planning and implementing their resources and personnel. With a team of only 12 personnel, every person must be first-rate, not only able to handle his or her own area of expertise with great proficiency, but also the other team members. 

Over the last four weeks, the team has been working around the clock to verify equipment requirements, find possible trouble areas and perfect their plan for supporting the mission. After the plan was drafted, the team tested it by simulating all conditions they would be facing. 

"We train these Airmen to be ready so when we land it is no different then being back at Tinker AFB . . . that is what makes great things happen," said Lt. Ryan Batchelor. 

For the people staying behind, it may not be all action and glory. But according to Senior Master Sgt. Paul Crouch, "Probably one of the most critical jobs for a successful deployment is the job of the people left behind. They are the ones that get us out the door and give us the support needed to accomplish the mission."