Putting the “Combat” back in Combat Comm

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Adrian Brakeley
  • 131st Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Missouri Air National Guardsmen with the 239th Combat Communications Squadron (CBCS) recently exercised their abilities to respond to various scenarios during contingency operations such as emergency response, Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC), and force protection while demonstrating combat skills during Exercise BUMBU 22 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi.

The week prior to the start of Exercise BUMBU 22, the 239th CBCS was busy performing pre-deployment inspections on their equipment and making sure they were personally and professionally ready to deploy. While these checks on communications capabilities are critically important to the expeditionary communications career field, there is another crucial piece that would be exercised once they arrived at Camp Shelby: their combat readiness.

Combat Communicators must remain agile and multifaceted in their abilities and expertise. On any given day, these comm troops must be prepared to maintain and operate their equipment, while remaining vigilant to vulnerabilities in hostile environments. To simulate this, instructors with the 159th Fighter Wing provided an intense training regimen for the 239th CBCS, which covered TCCC, weapons safety, patrol movements, and basic combat tactics. The course is designed to teach lifesaving techniques and how to provide the most effective trauma care during combat.

Staff Sgt. Travis Wilson, an instructor who teaches the medical portion of the course, explained, “We add [simulated scenarios] that each cover the three phases of TCCC, which are care under fire, tactical field care, and tactical evacuation. These guys need to be ready to use all three, because they could go from sitting by their radios to providing life-saving care at a moment’s notice.”

Armed with “dummy guns” - rubber rifle molds that are safe to carry and simulate fire within a training environment - and walking through the dense, marshy forest of Mississippi, the Guardsmen executed a patrol. As they ventured further into the trees, shots rang out (an instructor yelling "bang") and trainees had to quickly engage in suppressive fire and provide effective care to ‘downed’ comrades. The pressure to meet time crunches while also caring for their ‘wounded’ provided scenarios that required them to utilize what they had learned. While all simulated, trainees afterwards expressed how real the experience felt and how they felt more prepared for the real thing.

“At first I thought, ‘Oh, this will be like a normal training with some injects’, but it was way more than that,” said Senior Airman Joshua Arnold, a client systems technician with the 239th CBCS after an intense midday exercise. “We were out here sweating, running, keeping focused on our individual jobs, and all that training in the classroom really helped.”

Wilson praised their efforts. “They did really great out here, especially since, for a lot of these guys, this is the first time they’ve ever done something like this. They’ve been soaking [the training and instruction] up like sponges.”

This aspect of the BUMBU 22 training exercise was part of a push to get Combat Communications Airmen up to speed with the first part of their job title. Unit leadership was eager to hear how the training went for their Guardsmen, and hopes were high that it could be implemented in future exercises.