Communications, Robinson Caruso Style

Airmen of the 1st Special Operations Communications Squadron embarked on a no-notice tactical communications exercise, arriving on Okaloosa Island, Fla., last week. Communicators set up an improvised ground-to-air communications site, relaying with AC-130U gunships, and downloading information streams from remotely piloted aircraft overhead, during the Aug. 8-12 exercise. “Too often it’s easy to run back to a building for something you forgot to ship on the pallet. … This adds some realism to the training,” said Lt. Col. James Sahm, 1st SOCS commander. The squadron spent a week operating from tents, using transportable antennas and relay equipment. Beset with thunderstorms, high-winds, and power outages, “Sand Dollar,” a quarterly readiness exercise in the Gulf of Mexico gave special operators a realistic sample of the austere conditions often faced during an emergency forward deployment. (Hurlburt report by SrA. Joe McFadden)