SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
In an ever-advancing technological world, having a team of professionals that can tackle communications issues and challenges can be the difference between mission success and failure.
From telephone lines to computers and presentations, Sheppard Air Force Base’s 82nd Communication Squadron proved in 2017 that it is one of the best in the business. That has resulted in Air Education and Training Command selected the squadron as this year’s Lt. Gen. Harold W. Grant small unit award winner and its representative in the annual Air Force Information Dominance awards program.
Lt. Col. Amanda Knotts, 82nd CS commander, said the honor doesn’t happen without the efforts of all 92 Airmen, civilians and contractors that make up the squadron.
“I’m so proud of our guys and all the hard work they put in,” she said. “So many things are outside our control as the Air Force consolidates and they start pulling services more to Air Force-wide services. But our team, even given all of that, they work so hard to try to make the systems work for the end users.
“Day-in and day-out, they’re not just picking up the phone and calling somebody up at the Network Operations Squadron to go, ‘Hey, can you fix this for us?’ but they’re going, ‘Ok, while they’re trying to get that fixed, how can we get your mission done. Let’s find an alternate way to make things happen.”
Knotts said that like other awards, the Air Force Information Dominance program looks at functional areas and the type of affect they have on its missions. Some are everyday functions, but it’s the unique things that set them apart from others.
The AETC Senior Leader Conference Sheppard hosted in March was one of those opportunities in 2017 for the 82nd CS to go above and beyond the norm. Knotts said they partnered with the 82nd Force Support Squadron during the conference since the FSS owns the communications system in the Sheppard Club, the location of most of the meetings.
“We worked together to get a larger pipe for Wi-Fi so that when you have 118 senior leaders, they have 118 or more devices that they show up with and those devices need to connect to something because, of course, they’re not only attending a conference, but also getting some emails and trying to do work back home,” she said. “As we all know, you can’t just unplug and leave, so that kind of gave those senior leaders more ability to connect back home during those short breaks that they have when everybody is trying to connect at the same time.”
Senior Master Sgt. Donald Valentine, 82nd CS superintendent, said another success for the squadron was an update to Windows 10. The squadron was rates tops in AETC in that specific area.
The superintendent also cited setting communications for State Department employees when they come through Sheppard, as well as support provided to the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program.
“As comm, we get a lot of play into that mission,” he said of the only internationally manned and operating flying training program. “If things don’t go well, that mission doesn’t go well.”
Knotts added that they 80th has their own communications help desk to work issues, but the two work together on issues that could affect the mission.
Winner of the AF Lt. Gen. Harold W. Grant award will most likely be announced in early 2018.