News>Part-Time Service, Full-Time Commitment: Comm and Engineers
Story at a Glance
Air Force Reservists train to serve alongside active duty counterparts Balance between workload and additional training is essential Training often involves more than UTAs and annual tour
During the April unit training assembly, Senior Airman Earl Jordan (left) and Tech. Sgt. Michael Coleman, 403rd Civil Engineer Squadron fire fighters, prepare to investigate a building during a structural fire exercise at the Air National Guard Combat Readiness Training Center, Miss. Members from various CE career fields practice their job-specific skills during UTAs and annual tours to remain deployable for global contingencies. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Labadens)
Tech. Sgts. Vernon Forde (left) and Steven Feliciano, 403rd Communications Flight cyber systems operators, service a wing computer in the Network Training Work Center. Members from various communications career field use the lab to hone their computer networking and routing skills. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Labadens)
by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Labadens
403rd Wing Public Affairs
4/19/2011 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, MISS. -- This is part three of four in a series on how Air Force Reservists from various career fields train throughout the year to serve their country.
Many Air Force Reserve jobs branch out into various career fields, each containing its own sets of training requirements. For Citizen Airmen of the 403rd Civil Engineer Squadron and 403rd Communications Flight, maintaining their individual training requirements is vital to remaining worldwide deployable.
According to Tech. Sgt. David Swanson, 403rd CES unit training manager, CES's primary wartime mission is setting up a bare base (if one is not in place) and providing base operating support.
The sergeant said CES technical school graduates enter upgrade training immediately upon returning to home station. This consists of career development courses and other specialty training.
"With 11 different career fields within our squadron, training requirements can vary dramatically," said Sergeant Swanson.
For example, emergency managers maintain hazardous material certification, electricians and power generation members learn advanced life-saving skills and fire fighters hold up to 20 different Department of Defense certificates.
Sergeant Swanson said each CES member trains to meet requirements in four categories, including home station training, mission-essential equipment training, combat skills training and Silver Flag.
Silver Flag is a week-long exercise where civil engineers simulate establishing a bare base while under attack and operating in a chemical or hazardous environment. Like other Citizen Airmen, new CES troops also can benefit from the seasonal training program.
"Members are encouraged to participate in the STP, which allows newly assigned members to get hands-on training (in their specific careers)," said Sergeant Swanson. "Depending on the career field, they can have up to 180 days of continuous full-time training."
For Comm Flight troops, Tech. Sgt. Vernon Forde, 403rd CF cyber systems operator, said much of the flight's training can be accomplished during unit training assemblies and annual tours. However, some training can be accomplished offsite through civilian training classes or "off-the-shelf" training software reservists can purchase for their personal computers.
"Many of our members perform computer work on the outside for their civilian jobs, so some of the certifications they receive from the civilian side can be applied to their Reserve jobs," said Sergeant Forde.
Master Sgt. Serena Birch, 403rd CF chief of knowledge operation, said one of Comm's main tasks is to keep base computer and communications networks up and running while deployed at home and around the globe.
Communications includes career fields such as client support, knowledge operations and cyber systems operations and transport.
Sergeant Birch said each career has its own set of training requirements and responsibilities tailored to help maintain computer operations and communications stateside and in deployed locations.
One facility particularly important for training new cyber systems operators is the Network Training Work Center at the Roberts Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Facility here, said Sergeant Forde.
The sergeant conducts much of the flight's network and router installation training at the center. He said the facility simulates two linked networks set up at separate geographic locations.
The system is completely isolated from the active network at Keesler Air Force Base, allowing 403rd CF Citizen Airmen to practice a wide variety of scenarios in a controlled environment. Sergeant Forde said the work center meets many of the training requirements for wing members in information management career fields.
"Having this work center up and running provides our people with a valuable training tool for sharpening their network skills," said Sergeant Forde. Whether it's at home or abroad, Citizen Airmen of the 403rd CES and 403rd CF have access to the tools and talent they need to help them support the Air Force mission.