104th Communications Flight effectively supporting the mission remotely
By Master Sgt. Lindsey Sarah Watson-Kirwin, 104th Fighter Wing
/ Published April 24, 2020
BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. -- The communications flight at the 104th Fighter Wing is responsible for supporting the mission by ensuring all things related to computers, landlines, cellphones, internet, intranet, and communications capabilities and infrastructure are working smoothly and kept up-to-date. With the implementation of large scale teleworking to support social distancing recommendations, the communications flight is busier than ever assisting customers and doing it largely from their home offices.
Staff Sgt. Kenny LeBel is the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of the Communications Focal Point and is one of the 104CF team members that have been ensuring the 104th FW can operate effectively while many Airmen are teleworking.
“We support the 104th Fighter Wing mission and the COVID-19 response mission,” said LeBel.
LeBel and his team work to assist customers as quickly and effectively as possible. While they may be mostly teleworking from home, they are still as capable as ever to keep the mission moving forward.
“Excellent service is our business,” said Master Sgt. Shelley Mutti, acting Superintendent of Cyber Operations. “My team focuses on winning one customer at a time with honest and sincere discussions and assistance,” she said.
According to Mutti, there is no magic in what they are doing. Their goal is simply to do what’s right, even if it means answering countless emails and phone calls, all the while assuming a positive intent, despite the discouraged members who are reaching out for support, she said.
“Anyone who has had Staff Sgt. LeBel answer their request knows there is no judgment. No issue is too trivial,” she said. “He realizes that whatever the problem is, it's important to you, and he will try to help you solve it.”
With so many Airmen teleworking from their homes, there was a sharp increase in the amount of members who needed virtual private network access on their laptops.
“We are making sure that VPN is installed where it is needed and pushing out information base wide. It is critical that people read the Notices to Airmen we are sending out,” said LeBel.
As much as the 104CF is capable of doing remotely, there are still times they need to have the hardware physically present to properly address the customers concerns.
“We are meeting customers by appointment who need to drop off equipment to limit the amount of traffic in our building to maintain social distancing while helping our customers,” said LeBel.
In addition to communicating with customers, the 104CF team needs to communicate effectively with each other while being physically separated from one another.
“We have a team chat setup and communicate with each other daily to make sure we are helping our customers effectively and not duplicating work,” said LeBel.
Members of the 104CF team have been flexible with their schedules so they can meet customers when needed and have been willing to step outside their normal jobs to help their teammates.
“Staff Sgt. Angel Inserni-Rodriguez and Tech. Sgt. Wes Sobczyk have both been great,” said LeBel. “Angel is making sure all of the hardware is taken care of, and Wes has been helping out the CFP in addition to doing his job.”
The 104CF team has been working effectively together to support the mission and each other, and in turn they have received support from their leadership.
“Our leadership is doing a good job supporting us and our efforts,” said LeBel. “They check in regularly to see if we need anything.”
The 104CF team will continue to be agile in their support of the overall 104FW mission; specifically the COVID-19 response mission.
“It feels good to contribute to the COVID-19 mission while also supporting our regular operations,” said LeBel.