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Senior Airman William Powell, 62nd Communications Squadron voice network systems specialist, replaces his tools after installing a new telephone line at the Rodeo Communications Team in processing line July 26 at McChord Air Force Base, Wash. Rodeo, sponsored by Air Mobility Command, is a readiness competition between U.S. and international mobility air forces. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Amaani Lyle)
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Communicators keep Air Mobility Rodeo 2007 connected

Posted 7/27/2007   Updated 7/27/2007 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Amaani Lyle
Air Mobility Rodeo 2007 Public Affairs

7/27/2007 - MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- In line with the international competition's rustic theme, Air Mobility Rodeo 2007 gave McChord Air Force Base, Wash., the feel of a county fair.

But beyond the hay bales and Stetsons, McChord's 62nd Communications Squadron and tenant unit Western Air Defense Sector have, through networks, phone systems and radios, made this year's Rodeo the most connected in history.

U.S. Air Force Capt. David Gates, 62nd CS Rodeo director of communications, said that the Air Force's "total force" concept enabled his team to mesh with U.S. and international units alike.

"The entire squadron mobilized during the fielding and execution phase," Captain Gates said. "The communications teams from McChord, WADS, the Air National Guard team from Camp Murphy, Travis AFB (Calif.), and Scott AFB (Ill.) fielded all assets on time without a single complaint. I couldn't be more pleased with how well the team has done."

Thirty-eight communications Airmen prepared for the July 22 to 27 event that showcases the skills of aircrews, maintainers, aeromedical evacuation, security forces, and aerial port operations team members.

"I wanted to be involved to work with international air force professionals, but also to learn other aspects of my own career field," said Tech. Sgt. Malinda Gonnuscio, WADS information system manager.

Since Sergeant Gonnuscio works in a secure sector of McChord's communications team, she said she looked forward to helping configure, update and troubleshoot more than 300 wireless and hard line computer systems.

The team members said their Rodeo jobs entailed not only basic equipment setup, but rather, the offering of unexpected touches that seemed to go a long way with Rodeo participants and staff members.

"It was nice to be able to check my e-mail during my lunch hour or on breaks," said Senior Airman Joshua Sims, a support staff Airmen known as a Rodeo wrangler.

The communications team manually built jumbo quad screen monitors that streamlined Rodeo highlights, scoreboards and world news. The team also set up two commercial site internet cafes and wireless stations in both the distinguished visitor lounges and Rainier Ranch, a base recreational area.

An increase in connectivity can inherently bring information systems hazards such as viruses and Trojan horses, but the team members said they took precautions to ensure mission success.

"We wanted to not only get the job done, but also be proactive in avoiding problems the user might face," said Staff Sgt. Eddie Valerio, 62nd CS information manager. "We've set up firewalls, and secured a pretty large fleet of back-up computer systems in case we need to pull one from the network."

Sergeant Gonnuscio said the set up of four satellite help desks made "comm" more accessible to every participant in the event.

"We wanted to be everywhere and pool our expertise across the field so that no situation could stump us," Sergeant Gonnuscio said.

Staff Sgt. Lyla Paopao, WADS information manager, attested to some unique though not impossible challenges that she and other team members encountered.

"Because this was an international competition we had laptops in all sorts of languages," Sergeant Paopao said. "We even had a unit in Arabic - but we brainstormed and figured out how to get the system configured for the wireless network."

Captain Gates said that well after Rodeo draws to a close, the communications team will work to ensure the appropriate break down and return of equipment.

"We need to know where every piece of equipment comes from, both locally and across the U.S.," he said. "We've kept very thorough records to ensure everything gets back to its rightful owners."

The captain said he looks forward to future Rodeos.

"We've had a great time supporting Rodeo and look forward to having the opportunity to raise the bar again in 2009."

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