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Massachusetts Air Guard Helps Upgrade Comms at Joint Base Langley-Eustis

  • Published
  • By Timothy Sandland,
  • 102nd Intelligence Wing

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. - The communications squadron at Joint Base Langley-Eustis had a challenge. The unit had identified hundreds of network switches on the base’s network that needed replacement. Funding for the equipment was there, but the staffing to do the work was another story.

The Massachusetts Air National Guard’s 212th Engineering and Installation Squadron based at Otis Air National Guard Base answered the call, having the personnel and expertise to aid base comm with the task.

The 212th EIS’ parent unit, the 253rd Cyberspace Engineering and Installation Group, is one of two cyber engineering and installation groups in the Air National Guard that split responsibility for oversight of 15 E&I squadrons.

In contrast, the active-duty component has one E&I group and one squadron. In terms of the Total Force, the ANG clearly has the bulk of forces and resources to execute the E&I mission.

“This was a great example of how the Total Force can work together to support the mission,” said 1st Lt. Zackery Benton, 212th EIS team lead. “The 212th, with our trained and experienced personnel, were able to step in and provide the necessary support.”

Yet another major strength of the ANG’s E&I mission is that the skilled technicians who fulfill these roles are most often part-time Guardsmen. In their civilian lives, these professionals typically work on the very same equipment and use the same training in their civilian occupations. They bring their cutting-edge capabilities and skills for use while in uniform.

One of the ancillary benefits provided to the 212th EIS in this arrangement was training.

“The network upgrade was a valuable opportunity for our technicians to gain training and experience,” said Benton. “The network component alone allowed the Airmen to get the necessary repetitions to maintain and sharpen their skills.”

The May upgrade enabled the “sign-off” of 21 Airmen on 177 Career Field Education and Training Plan tasks.

“By signing off these tasks, these Airmen are now two years ahead of the projected time to complete these tasks,” said Benton.

The team racked 77 Cisco switches, preparing them for future cutover, and upgraded 27 switches. They terminated over 72 fiber runs, re-terminated, tested 196 strands of copper cable, and ran a new fiber optic cable that enabled a critical system to be put into use. 

On the way out the door, the team conducted a survey for future fiberoptic installation projects.

“We were able to expand the scope of the project and showcase the full capability of E&I,” said Benton. “This included work in on-the-spot engineering, Radio Frequency Preventative Maintenance Inspection, and fiber optic and CAT6 pulls and terminations.”

The 212th EIS members left JBLE in a much more manageable state while exercising their skills and documenting their training. Between the training and the work accomplished, the Otis ANGB team made quite an impact.

“This has been a great partnership and speaks to how the Total Force can have an amplifying effect on getting after these types of projects,” said Col. Stephen Dillon, 253rd CEIG commander. “This is an area we are strongly looking to grow our capabilities in and opportunities for E&I. We have a lot to offer, so building and maintaining that foundational trust is key to success.”

As units like the 212th EIS continue to build on  intraservice partnerships, the Air Force, National Guard, and the Air Force Reserve play a crucial role in accomplishing the Air Force mission.