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Command post keeps gears turning on global mobility

by Airman 1st Class Shen-Chia Chu
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

8/20/2008 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. (AFPN) -- Buried in a building here is a dark room with no windows that is packed with computer and projection screens. Watching these monitors are the disembodied, silhouetted heads of 436th Airlift Wing command post controllers, who work behind the scenes to keep Dover's global airlift mission operational.

There are three important operations command post controllers are responsible for: tracking aircraft, accommodating aircrew needs and coordinating emergency management.

"Controllers affect every mission departure and arrival of the busiest aerial port in Air Mobility Command," said Lt. Col. Jon Fullerton, 436th AW command post commander. "They also have the responsibility of talking directly with the wing commander as his voice to (AMC) headquarters for any reportable mishaps or unusual occurrences. This takes a high degree of professionalism and job knowledge."

"We're the focal point for the flow of information throughout the base," said Master Sgt. Douglas Waithe, command post superintendent. "We monitor and 'flight-follow' all aircraft arriving and departing 24-hours a day, 365 days a year."

Controllers communicate with aircrews before they land to coordinate necessary transportation and lodging, and schedule repairs with the 436th Maintenance Group to fix damaged aircraft.

Controllers have a lot of responsibility, which is why they must be certified by the base commander. There is a certified command post controller on duty at all times

This is probably the only career field which requires an interview with the base commander in order to be certified, said Sergeant Waithe.

It's important for controllers to know their jobs and to do them well because they're the commander's eyes and ears, said Staff Sgt. Alman Chiang, a command post controller.

"This is why we're called the 'chosen few,'" said Master Sgt. Michael Manchester, command post superintendent of operations. "We're to be trustworthy professionals who take pride in what we do, because there is no room for error or downtime when we're working to become the best in the Air Force."

Controllers are like directors, letting every Airmen on base know when to act during any incident that happens here, said Sergeant Manchester.

"When something happens on or off base, we're the first to know, and we notify everyone necessary to take action," he said. "If you enjoy working in a fast-paced world, this may be the job for you because there is excitement in our career field as we deal with a high breadth of knowledge."

Command post Airmen get to see how people work together to accomplish Dover's mobility mission.

"I enjoy my job because I see how everyone fits in. In a bigger sense, I get to see the bigger picture of the overall operations of the Air Force," said Tech. Sgt. Charles Bartosh, who cross-trained to become a controller.

"I always thought (a) command post (controller's) job was controlling the Giant Voice, but ever since I started training, I've come to realize that this is one of the hardest (jobs)," he said. "I've had to learn a lot in a short period of time and it has definitely opened my eyes to our Air Force, giving me a broader (respect for) our mission and what we do."

Many people will never see the work command post Airmen do to keep Dover's mission smooth.

"My Airmen do their jobs admirably and professionally, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week," said Colonel Fullerton. "They handle everything from presidential support missions, maintaining point of contact for Dover Airmen Against Drunk Driving on the weekends, sending all reportable incidents to higher headquarters, emergency action messages, unsafe weather notifications and everything in-between.

"The wing mission would not be possible without the awesome teamwork between command post and all the wing agencies," he said.

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