By CMSgt Teresa Collet, 744th Communications Squadron
/ Published September 26, 2007
Sept. 26, 2007 -- Twenty years ago when you needed a phone number you pulled out the base phone book. When you needed to type a letter, you walked over to the typewriter and painstakingly typed one up, and if you needed to send a message to another base, you typed a DD Form 173 and took it to the Base Communications Center. Today, everyone has access to computers on a regular basis. Typing a letter is quick and easy, phone numbers are at our fingertips, and requests from other bases are only an e-mail away. Technology is still growing and changing daily. Global communications takes seconds, plug in the laptop and connect back to the office, and even send e-mail on devices smaller than our hand. So, what's next? What does communications technology hold for the future?
The 844th Communications Group's mission is to enable the customer to perform their mission through superior information management and technology. When the Group stood up in June of 2006, it took ownership of the networks at the Pentagon, Bolling AFB, and Andrews AFB. They quickly built, what is called, a trusted relationship between the Pentagon and Bolling networks, allowing an individual to log into any machine, on either network, and work as if they were sitting at their own desk. Most recently they demonstrated this feature during the Heritage to Horizons Summit held at Bolling AFB. The 844 CG set up a small network, a normal practice, for the conference attendees; however, General Moseley needed something from his office laptop. No problem, the technician plugged it in to the network and the General logged in. Except for the spectacular view he has from his office in the Pentagon, he was working just like he was sitting at his desk. A year earlier, it would have taken a lot of coordination and effort to meet this requirement. Not to mention the sweat and nerves of the communicators.
This is just one recent example of the superior communications services provided by the 844 CG. Their vision, to advance the mission effectiveness of the Department of Defense's Senior Leadership and the Air Force in the National Capital Region, and to be the command and control (C2) and information technology service provider of choice, is something they wear on their sleeve everyday. The 844 CG not only provides daily support to 30,000 users across the region, they manage and operate over 5,000 square miles of communications equipment and infrastructure, from Camp David, Md., to Fort AP Hill, Va., and from Ft George G. Meade, Md., to Dulles Airport in Va.
The 844 CG is the executive agent for C2 systems in the 275,000 square foot National Military Command Center (NMCC) supporting top DoD leaders. In the NMCC, they manage 712 national C2 circuits; maintain 24/7 missile warning, emergency action message dissemination, and threat conferencing systems; and provide secure voice communications throughout the NCR on the largest Defense Red Switch system. Additionally, at Andrews AFB they operate the largest world-wide Multi-Function Switches servicing over 200 sites from Southwest Asia, the Pacific Rim, and Europe, to include all Theater Deployable Communications units. The switch also supports the Presidential Special Communications Network and was recently recognized as the Air Force Runner up for the Defense Information Systems Agency Global Information Grid Facility Award. They also have a team of top professionals who provide 24/7 secure voice and data communications support to the Secretary of Defense, while at home and during travel, as well as travel communications for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and their deputies.
In keeping pace with technology, the Group is currently working long term projects to consolidate 3 local networks into one single network, and become 1 of only 11 Area Processing Centers, housing over 1,000 terabytes of data from bases up and down the East coast with backup capability for other regions. They are providing all communications for the upcoming Global Air Chiefs Conference where they will not only connect the visiting dignitaries to the Pentagon through a network of 22 offices with 55 computers, over 200 cell phones, while additionally providing all photography, graphics, and public address support. From the phonebook, typewriter, and Base Communications Center to a single Enterprise network servicing over 5,000 square miles and all Air Force elements in and around Washington DC, it's safe to say, the 844th Communications Group is leading the way and they look forward to servicing the communications needs of the NCR for years to come.