MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. | The 341st Communications Squadron at Malmstrom plans, operates and maintains information technology resources supporting the wartime requirements of the 341st Missile Wing.
The unit maintains communications systems for the base’s Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles, Air Force Global Strike Command’s Secure Global Network, data networks, telecommunications systems, computer systems, and radio and ground communications.
The squadron is split into multiple sections including the network control center, communications focal point and client support center.
Airmen part of the CSC assist with government phone and base computer system installs and migrations, patching and remediating base computer system vulnerabilities, and ensuring the computers on base and in the 13,800 square-mile missile complex are always operational.
“Our job is to ensure computers and other devices are up and running and stay connected to the network to allow Airmen to get the mission done,” said Senior Airman Jeffery Hofer, 341st CS client support technician.
This is accomplished by keeping systems current with software updates, catching and fixing vulnerabilities, and assisting Airmen who are in need of technology support.
Individuals can submit a ticket to the virtual Enterprise Service Desk through the desktop icon or contact the communications focal point at 731-2622 when an issue occurs.
Tickets are then processed through to the CSC technicians who are assigned the tasks.
“Many of the fix actions and maintenance that are done are seamless to the user,” said Bill McKowan, 341st CS client systems technician. “This means that the user never even knows that we did anything. It is when things don’t work that they notice.”
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The technicians contact the customer to discuss the problem and assist with the fix whether in person or remotely through the squadron’s special software.
“No matter what kind of network you are running there will always be a need for troops on the ground fixing computers and troubleshooting network issues,” said McKowan. “Being able to remote administrate a computer from a remote enterprise level is a great concept but one that requires everything to be working in order to be effective.”
Currently, the squadron is working on two major projects of upgrading base computers and operating systems, and migrating government phones from legacy email software to an updated client.
Upgrading the systems, software and equipment increases security by staying up-to-date and mitigating vulnerabilities. Both of these projects must be done manually and to each individual piece of equipment.
The squadron is slated to have both projects completed by January 2018.
“With the Air Force moving toward modernization, we are moving toward better technology,” Hofer said. “Without the network and our new equipment operational, we would not be able to get our job done.”
McKowan echoes Hofer and said he feels the position he holds is one where the rubber meets the road.
“It may be cliché but it is true,” McKowan said. “The local base communications squadron is not only necessary to the everyday user, but also vital to every facet of our mission here.”