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60th Communications Squadron keeps Travis AFB connected amid pandemic

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jonathon Carnell
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Ping! A computer alert sounds to notify Airmen in the 60th Communications Squadron cyber maintenance and operations control center of another request.

On any given week, the eight-member team fields more than 300 network delay requests for Travis Air Force Base personnel while monitoring the health of the non-classified internet protocol router network as well as the classified system at Travis AFB.

“We monitor the health of the network to identify any disruptions or outages quickly to minimize impact to the network,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Dvorak, 60th CS cyber maintenance and operations controller. “We have several systems we use that enable us to actively monitor the network in real time, allowing us to see when things are not operating correctly.”

When Col. Jeffrey Nelson, 60th Air Mobility Wing commander, issued mission essential manning for the base in response to the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, the team was handed a new, not so familiar, type of issue to troubleshoot with half the manning.

 “It really came down to us working as a team,” said Master Sgt. Rod Dyson, 60th CS cyber maintenance section chief. “We have implemented limited manning, which has split our team in half. Most of the base is now teleworking, but that has only increased our workload as more people are having more issues than ever.”

The first couple weeks were hectic, he said, as Travis AFB personnel increased teleworking to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The team encountered an issue with the rise of users on the virtual private network, which enables users to send and receive data as if their computing devices were directly connected to the U.S. Air Force network.

The amplified use of the VPN led to a surge in trouble tickets to keep people connected, Dvorak added.

 “We have had all of the usual communication issues we would face day-to-day, but now we have thousands of users who are trying to work from home and need us to help them out,” Dyson continued. “Fortunately, our technicians and controllers are very good at their jobs and everyone stepped up their game to take care of the mission.”

Despite the challenges Team Travis may face during this time, Dvorak stressed, his team will do all they can to ensure Airmen have the support they need.  

“These are pretty stressful times,” he said. “We don’t know when things are going to even out and get back to what was once normal. What I do know is the mission must keep going.”