Combat crew communications ensure mission security
By Staff Sgt. Samantha Krolikowski, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 25, 2019
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- As a KC-135 Stratotanker makes its way to a new airspace, the aircrew of this flight have the confidence to securely transition because of the combat crew communications Airmen who helped prepare them. If it weren’t for the Communication Security kits provided to aircrews, there would be no successful flight.
“Combat crew communications is important because we help aircrews go from location to location without being shot down,” said Airman 1st Class Vivian Taylor, 92nd OSS combat crew communications apprentice. “We also help them with their GPS and we’ll troubleshoot if the aircrews are having any issues.”
Airmen from the 92nd Operations Support Squadron combat crew communications flight ensure communications security kits are ready to go for aircrew at a moment’s notice. These COMSEC kits include the simple key loader, which is loaded onto the aircraft to enable secure communication. The kit also includes a multitude of forms needed for providing the KC-135 Stratotanker with a secure communication channel with the receiver aircraft and ground defense systems of the United States.
“The SKL is a tool that loads electronic keys onto the KC-135 Stratotanker and allow for the aircraft to be identified as friend or foe. It also permits important programs like secure voice and GPS,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Schmitt, 92nd OSS combat crew communications supervisor.
The accountability forms for the COMSEC aids include Standard Form-153, Form 9 and the Air Force COMSEC Form 16. The COMSEC kits also include paperwork and checklists, confidential books, equipment and seals.
It’s important the Airmen who check out the kit verify the information on the SKL because they will then be assuming responsibility of all communications security material for their flight. It’s vital to inspect the information in the COMSEC kits because aircrews needs all required COMSEC aids to protect them on their mission.
“Each kit comes with an inventory sheet,” said Tech. Sgt. Melissa Bailon, 92nd OSS combat crew communications NCO in charge. “Aircrew members make sure everything in the kit is on the list we give them because it will enable their aircraft to become secure when they need to communicate.”
Aircraft must be secure when transitioning between airspaces and in general. Everything in the kits allow the aircrews to let air traffic control towers know they are friendly aircraft. If aircrews don’t have the correct COMSEC kits or are missing an item it could be detrimental to their flight. The items in the kit ensure that no one can tap into their secure communications.
“We come to work every day and personally get to know the aircrews,” Taylor said. “They wouldn’t be able to fly if they didn’t have these COMSEC kits. They put their full trust in us to get to where they need to safely.”