Combat Communicators Support Haiti Relief Efforts

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The 3rd Combat Communications Group stationed at Tinker Air Force Base is mobilizing to provide state-of-the-art tactical communications and Air Traffic Control capabilities to the Haitian government and the victims of the recent tragedy.

As part of Operation Unified Response, the 3rd CCG, also known as the 3rd Herd, will deploy approximately 30 Airmen with nearly 94 short tons of equipment in support of disaster relief activities.

The 3rd Herd's sister unit, the 5th Combat Communications Group, also known as the 5th Mob, out of Robins Air Force Base, Ga., deployed a small communications package on Saturday.

"Our Airmen are exceptionally prepared and committed to providing first-rate support for this critical effort," said Col. Thomas "Tank" Byrge, 3rd Combat Communications Group commander.

The 3rd CCG and 5th Mob fall under the 689th Combat Communications Wing headquartered at Robins AFB. The 689th CCW's mission is to "deliver combat communications for the joint/coalition war fighter supporting combat operations and Humanitarian Relief Operations anytime...anywhere."

These capabilities are vital to first responders, search and rescue teams, local government and police forces, and aid organizations. They provide real-time situational awareness to key Decision makers and will enable air traffic controllers to direct inbound and outbound aircraft in the devastated country.

The 3d Herd's 700 personnel are trained to deploy more than 150 mission systems to provide initial service to Air Force wing customers and other units in locations where these capabilities don't exist, and are prepared to do so under hostile conditions.

"Combat communicators are not strangers to this type of response," said Col. Theresa Giorlando, 689th CCW commander. "The 5th Mob and 3rd Herd have a long history of supporting humanitarian and relief efforts dating back to the 1960s.

"Our units have supported Joint Task Forces in support of hurricanes Ike, Katrina and Gustav, and are eager to do their part for this humanitarian effort."

The 689th CCW elements are self-sustaining during the initial phase of the expeditionary mission until relieved by follow-on forces and supplies.

"We're proud to be participating in this humanitarian mission," Col Byrge said. "The chance to help alleviate suffering and save lives is in the best tradition of the American Airman. Our troops constantly train to deliver people and supplies anywhere they're needed."