12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) mission is to support U.S. national security interests, and with our partner-nations, foster security, stability, and prosperity in the Americas. The 612th Air Communications Squadron plays a vital role of ensuring this mission is met.
The 612th ACOMS has two primary missions in support of Air Forces Southern, to deploy communications capabilities to the area of responsibility and to make sure the Combined Air and Space Operation Center is up and running, which is by no means an easy fete.
The Airmen in ACOMS are trained with hands-on experience, as well as training facilities, where they are able to simulate situations they may come across when they deploy. The training facility is to help prepare the Airmen at home, before they go to their deployed location.
â€œWeâ€™re fortunate here to have two CAOC training facilities that we can train on the live systems before we deploy,â€ said Master Sgt. Richard Edwards, 612th ACOMS flight chief of CAOC C2 systems. â€œThat way when we go downrange we know how to do our jobs because we practice hands-on for so long.â€
As part of readiness, members of the Air Communications Squadron train on a regular basis. They are able to get hands-on experience during exercises that are conducted on a large scale to prepare Airmen for anything that might come their way in a U.S. Southern Command AOR.
â€œWe work with operators in their training missions,â€ said Staff Sgt. Russell Cihal, 612th ACOMS deployable radio and data links systems supervisor. â€œWe work with exercises such as Combat Search and Rescue and Angel Thunder, relaying information back to the CAOC. Any exercise that will train on something we might be involved in, we join in. We like doing our job because we get such a broad range of training so we know what we are doing when it really counts.â€
Airmen from ACOMS are able to provide communication with the people who have the eyes and ears, as well as the oversight in situations in the AOR. They are able to get the constant stream of data back and forth from the men and women on the ground to higher headquarters.
â€œOur mission is important downrange because it keeps a stable environment in South and Central America,â€ said Airman 1st Class Christopher Brazelton, 612th ACOMS RF transmission systems. â€œItâ€™s important in preventing things from happening on our borders, such as drug trafficking. I like the fact that weâ€™re able to build partnerships with other countries and in return it keeps us safe at home.â€
When Airmen go to South America, they donâ€™t just do their jobs. They have great experiences in another country, as well as meeting new people and building partnerships with foreign nationals.
The Department of Defense is committed to assisting in the development of partner countriesâ€™ capabilities to address regional security and stability challenges. SOUTHCOM is committed to building and sustaining enduring partnerships.
â€œIn Barbados, in support of Exercise Trade Winds, we were able to work with Marines, Soldiers, and Caribbean nations to share our knowledge of how each service gets the job done,â€ said Staff Sgt. Nathanael Guy, 612th ACOMS networks supervisor. â€œFor me, it was very fulfilling to know that we were able to work together toward the common goal of helping out another nation with problems. It was a great opportunity to work with our brothers and sisters in uniform to accomplish the same mission.â€
Exercise Trade Winds is designed to improve coordination and interoperability of participating Caribbean nations to respond to transnational threats, emphasizing maritime interdiction and ground security skills at the tactical and operational levels. This exercise is held in Antigua and Barbuda, with 1,000 participants from 19 countries.
In an interdependent world, challenges to common interests are best addressed in cooperation with equal partners who share responsibilities for fostering peace and security. Many of the partner nations share our vision of a peaceful, safe and secure future for our hemisphere and have expressed their desire to work with us, and with each other, to achieve that vision.
â€œWhen we first got to Columbia and got off the aircraft, there were some foreign nationals greeting us and they were thanking us for being there,â€ Brazelton said. â€œI thought that was great, to be in an AOR where we were accepted. We were there to support their growth and they appreciated it very much.â€