56th Communications Squadron keeps base connected

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Senior Airman Devante Williams

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — Technology has become a major factor in people’s lives, connecting people through email, phone calls and typed documents. At Luke, the Airmen of the 56th Communications Squadron provide the infrastructure to support, power and repair this network, ensuring mission success at Luke.

“Personnel need access to computers, printers and cell phones to complete the mission as efficiently as possible,” said Senior Airman Steven Wyrick, 56th COMM client systems technician. “This technology is not only convenient, it’s essential.”

By working together, the 56th COMM client systems technicians and network operations technicians work to support this vast infrastructure. Client systems technicians serve as first responders and are dubbed with a catch phrase, “From the desk to the wall, we do it all.”

“We serve as the first face of COMM,” Wyrick said. “We respond to the majority of on-site issues and while it’s not within our power to fix every issue, it is absolutely within our every interest to help customers complete their end of the mission.”

Luke’s 56th COMM team oversees $24 million of network infrastructure, which can translate into a great deal of maintenance work. Within the last 30 days there have been more than 700 tickets submitted.

“On some days, technicians can be juggling upward of 15 tickets simultaneously,” Wyrick said.

In addition to juggling trouble tickets, the client system technicians are also responsible for software preventive measures, maintenance and upgrades.

While client system technicians work on site to fix users hardware- and software-related issues, network operations technicians work behind the scenes, ensuring users have proper access to the network’s vast list of drives and list of permissions.

“When the network stops, everything stops,” said Senior Airman Daniel Kirtley, 56th COMM network operations technician. “Users need to be able to connect to the shared drives and access their content, such as email, through Luke’s network to get their part of the mission done.”

In addition to maintaining Luke’s shared drives, network operations technicians also perform maintenance routines and protect the network and the network drives from vulnerabilities. Network operations technicians also actively manage more than 18,300 user accounts, email, local machine and special purpose accounts.

With a vast amount of data going back and forth on the network, problems do arise, but Kirtley gladly admits there are not many issues that occur at Luke.

“The best way to know COMM is doing their job is you don’t,” Kirtley said. “Some networks can have a lot of problems, and I’m happy to say Luke’s doesn’t.”