Communication is power Published April 18, 2022 By Capt. Brandon Patterson 156th Wing MUÑIZ AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Puerto Rico -- Over the past few weeks, several combat communications squadrons across the Air National Guard converged on the island for a 15-day exercise, Tropic Thunder, April 1-15, 2022. The 156th CBCS hosted the exercise at three geographically separated locations: Camp Santiago Joint Training Center, Salinas; Punta Salinas Air Guard Station, Toa Baja; and Punta Borinquen Radar Station, Aguadilla. The exercise consisted of Airmen from the 156th CBCS, Puerto Rico Air National Guard, the 232nd CBCS, Alabama Air National Guard, and the 283rd CBCS, Georgia Air National Guard. The intent of the exercise was to train, test and prepare Airmen from all three states for coordinated agile communication delivery in austere locations. The concept of “Agile Combat Employment” is a key driver of how warfighters are trained and how we execute the mission. The goal of ACE is to activate small packages of multi-capable Airmen who can rapidly deploy to locations with differing degrees of austerity. Exercises like this are designed to provide Guardsmen a chance to build camaraderie with other combat communicators and share best practices, while also gaining a more realistic feel for what it would be like on a deployment or real-world situation. In these remote locations, it forces the combat communicator to prepare not only for what is required but also for what may go wrong. Everyone is counting on each other to provide the necessary communication links to get the job done. “In our business, the most important skill sets are technical expertise and teamwork with extreme execution,” said Lt. Col. Troy Johnson, the 156th CBCS commander. This exercise not only gave the squadrons a chance to train, but also it provided an opportunity for key stakeholders from Air Combat Command to come down and engage with the missions and leadership, which, in turn, helps to identify deficiencies and to strategize at the federal level. On a local level, in the Puerto Rico Air National Guard, strategic partnerships are an emphasis in all we do. As a result, leadership from the Federal Emergency Management Agency were invited for a site visit to learn about the capabilities of combat communication and how the agencies can collaborate during domestic operations. “We are here to support the warfighter with the entire communication package, whether it is a fellow Air Force or joint warfighter,” said Lt. Col. Patrick Tritz, the 232nd CBCS commander. “Between the units, we are all learning from each other to be the most effective combat communicators possible.” Without the ability to communicate with the warfighter, the effectiveness of the entire force is degraded. The combat communication package is an essential element to the success of future conflicts and DOMOPS.