452nd Communications Squadron works non-stop, keeps operations running

  • Published
  • By Linda Welz
  • 452 AMW Public Affairs

From mid-January 2020, when evacuees from Wuhan, China, arrived at March Air Reserve Base to begin their quarantine, the 452nd Communications Squadron’s Communications Focal Point  (CFP) department accepted the challenge to provide Information Technology support to the Crisis Action Team and the base populace around-the clock.

“During that time, we had several key projects that were being implemented, such as migration to the Common Access Card Personal Identify Verification (PIV). Print services were changing due to the 16-digit PIV migration, and we had a high vulnerability Windows patch that had to be deployed to every laptop and desktop on the base,” said Robert Johnson, Chief of Client Services, 452CS. “That does not include the normal day-to-day support requirements we are tasked with.”

The CFP staff has demonstrated their abilities to provide top-notched support to the base, even as stress levels are heightened, for unclassified (NIPR) and classified (SIPR) networks.

“We provide assistance to more than 3,400 customers via the helpdesk and walk-ins,” Johnson said. “To date my team has resolved more than 1400 NIPR trouble tickets, more than 200 SIPR trouble tickets, created more than 45 SIPR accounts and managed and configured more than 475 computers for NIPR and SIPR combined.”

On March 30, the department implemented an appointment-only system and since then have provided service to more than 360 customers at their scheduled times.

“I am continually impressed with the level of service we’re able to provide to the wing to keep it working, through the determination of the Comm Focal Point staff,” said Lt. Col. Don Kelley, commander, 452CS. “With the ability of our Airmen to innovate and fight through the scenario we’ve been given, keeping in mind health concerns and the operation, they are doing a fantastic job!”

At the same time the CFP staff adopted appointments-only model, they reduced their staff capacity drastically by half of the department moving them to a telework posture on a daily basis.

“The change in on-site workers allowed us to comply with multiple safety and health standards, such as the six-foot rule,” Johnson said. “This reduces the fear of spreading the COVID-19 virus among the CFP staff and the customers who interact with them.”

At one point, the CFP section was nearly out of supplies needed to maintain those health standards, Kelley said.

“It is huge for us to start to manage things on a very critical basis like PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). It’s not standard equipment for us,” Kelley said. “We’re more about fixing computer viruses, not human viruses.”

Kelley said he is very happy about how the CFP staff is doing and their success at managing those critical supplies.

“We’ve received positive feedback from wing members,” Kelley said. “Rob Johnson’s leadership has been fantastic. He has successfully managed his team’s schedules, with schools and daycares closing, so each member is able to balance family with mission needs.”

The CFP continues to be the focal point for imaging and configuring computers to provide to the base’s teleworking employees and have issued out approximately 60+ computers. They also have laptops available to sign out.

“I’m impressed at how the staff has maintained a positive and cheerful outlook despite the many barriers,” Kelley said.

In addition to providing all the current support, the CFP staff continues to provide base customers unique capabilities, through the use of Virtual Private Networks and Desktop Anywhere to connect to the network remotely, enabling those members to perform their missions on a daily basis.

“Our major task now is to continue to provide the same level of service to those teleworking and resolve their computer issues the quickest way possible,” Johnson said. “The numbers are staggering on what we have accomplished and the support we have provided since mid-January. It speaks volumes for the dedicated staff in the Comm Focal Point section and for the dedication to service they continually show.”

The CFP staff is continually looking for ways to improve their service Monday through Friday, as well as Unit Training Assembly weekends. If you need their assistance, please call them at 951-655-3165.