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175th Comm Squadron uses annual training to assist counterparts in Puerto Rico

By Senior Airman Alexandra Huettner and Spc. Christina Chang

35 Airmen from the Maryland Air National Guard worked alongside their counterparts in the Puerto Rico Air National Guard during their annual training on Muniz Air National Guard Base from July 22 to August 5, 2023, and helped improve the base’s network.  

Members of the 175th Communications Squadron exchanged information and provided supplies enhancing the 156th Communications Flight’s cybersecurity capabilities and operations. 

By directly working together to either carry out daily cybersecurity tasks or train and acquire new skills, the trans-state teams’ members enhanced their abilities in electronic reimaging and network management documentation, which increased their knowledge of the latest and ever-changing cybersecurity field.  

“I definitely learned a lot just by how different air bases do different processes,” said Maryland Air National Guard Senior Airman Brian Leland, a cyber defense operations specialist with the 175th Communications Squadron. “Being able to build each other up was awesome because with their expertise and our knowledge we were able to come together to make better processes.”

The 175th CS was also able to take some of the 156th CF’s older equipment and submit it to the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office (DRMO).

“One of the big issues they had was a stockpile of old equipment,” said Maryland Air National Guard Senior Master Sgt. Robert David Lambert Jr., section chief with the 175th CS. “We found equipment that’s been sitting in a warehouse down there for 20 plus years that we were able to get DRMO’d out of the system, palletized, and set up ready to go for those guys to get turned in to get it off the base.”

As the 156th CF had a limited staff, there were a multitude of servers, networks, and software that were in need of updates.  The 175th CS was able to assist in bringing the various systems up to date in order to meet Department of Defense standards.

“We were able to come in and identify different problems that were happening in Puerto Rico,” said Leland. “We helped update documentation on where servers are and what the connections are to those servers, network offices helped them update their servers to be concurrent with policy and our client systems people came and helped reimage laptops.”

The 156th CF also gave the 175th CS some extremely valuable information. They taught the 175th CS a faster method for setting up mobile devices which was 10 times faster than their previous methods.

“We learned how they set up their iPhones,” said Lambert. “We’re looking at doing our next phone deployment the way that they do it, because instead of doing it one at a time, we can do it 10 at a time.”

By traveling overseas, the 175th CS was able to practice their occupational skills in an environment vastly different to their home station, while strengthening the bonds within the Air Force across geographical boundaries.  

“Working with the 156th CF provided a great opportunity to prepare both units for any mission and bolster the total force concept within the Air Force,” said Maryland Air National Guard Lt. Col. Paul Huettner, commander of the 175th CS. “I am super proud of the 175th CS in their execution of the mission and the excellent impact of their work.”