BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan --
The base command post is the central command and control point for mission operations at every U.S. Air Force base.
At Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, it is the job of Tech. Sgt. Steven Thompson, 451st Expeditionary Operation Support Squadron command and control operations NCOIC, to ensure operations and communications run efficiently and effectively under any circumstance.
“My job here as the NCOIC of C2 operations is to handle the four sub elements of the CP (reports, systems, console operations and training),” said Thompson. “We develop checklists and procedures to make sure everything meets the intent of the group commander.”
Tasks vary from base to base depending on the resources needed and utilized, but Thompson continues to provide essential skills and knowledge to keep the base and all missions running smoothly.
“Every day here at KAF, we have multiple Air Tasking Order lines, MQ 9 Reapers, KC-135 Stratotankers and other civil aircraft that take and land constantly,” said Thompson. “We track all aircraft that land and take off from the base. We have a schedule that comes out every day that we track and anything that is out of the ordinary, we adjust before they land. We work very closely with airfield management to determine where aircraft are going to park, as well as working with them on in-flight emergencies and ground emergencies.”
According to Lt. Col. Patrick Schuldt, 451st EOSS commander, Thompson and the position he holds is critical to the mission of the 451st Air Expeditionary Group.
“Thompson is a vital member of the 451st AEG team,” said Schuldt. “He’s a collector and conduit of information during routine operations, air and ground emergencies, and base attacks. Thompson arms the group commander with prioritized information that allows him to make real-time decisions regarding airfield defense and operations.”
Additionally, Schuldt added that that Thompson is a consummate professional and tireless worker and is constantly seeking out ways to better both himself and the command post.
“Most recently, Thompson spearheaded the effort to integrate the command post, base operations and maintenance operations centers,” said Schuldt. “Even though he is not a communications troop, he developed and designed the architecture for the communications build-up to support the arrival of A-10 Thunderbolt IIs.”
Thompson stated that he really enjoys serving the community and helping set up for the arrival of the Security Force Assistance Brigade was another way he could contribute to the fight here in Afghanistan.
“My favorite part about this deployment is that every day is different,” said Thompson. “We don’t just sit behind the computer here. We are out and about. We are very deeply ingrained with the SFAB. I have become a multi-purpose Airmen since coming to KAF.”
In support of the SFAB build-up, Thompson made some drawings of buildings that were needing communications infrastructure and passed them over to 455th Expeditionary Communication Squadron Airmen that came down to install equipment based on his schematics.
“I did the mapping of buildings and assisted in setting the maintenance operation center for the A-10s and HH-60s,” said Thompson. “I helped appropriate computers for them and made the land cables. All of this is outside of my career field and was done because I like helping people. The commander laid out some priorities and I ran with them and got the job done.”
Currently deployed from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, Thompson has been in the Air Force for nine years and is serving on his third deployment.
“I was excited about this deployment,” said Thompson. “I have been trying to deploy since 2011. I’ve gone through a change in career fields. I was a military training instructor for a little while, so to get back out and do my job in a deployed environment for the first time as command and control is very exciting.”
The mission of the 451st EOSS Command Post is being a conduit of information during routine and critical airfield operations.
“There are a lot of operations going on here at any given time,” said Thompson. “We take fuel requests, we handle emergencies and any movement on the airfield. Col. Stephen Jones, 451st AEG commander, is the senior airfield authority and we keep a very open line of communication with him. If we weren’t here, that line of communication would be closed and KAF wouldn’t be able to provide support to any aircraft that land here. The mission wouldn’t happen.”