The chapter's April Virtual Luncheon was shared with other European chapters and included some members joining in via conference rooms (with social distance spacing). The chapter also had Maj. Gen. Erich Staudacher, GEAF (Ret.), AFCEA Europe's general manager, join in along with several colonels, commanders and titans of industry!
Initiating the luncheon, Lt. Col. Jason "Cueball" Simmons, USAF, chapter vice president, called upon the chapter for volunteers to partner with local Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) schools for STEM support through the chapter's supported Community Partnership Program (http://AdoptAPro.org). The program unites professionals with local DoDEA schools, to bring their STEM expertise into classrooms. In addition, Col. Keith Repik, USAF, chapter president, noted accolades to the entire chapter for being selected as an AFCEA Model Chapter, to Col. Simmons for an AFCEA International Meritorious Service Award, to Ken Robinson for an AFCEA Exceptional Contribution to STEM Education Award, and to Technical Sgt. Joseph Craig, USAF, for an AFCEA Award for Meritorious Service to the Intelligence Community.
The Virtual Luncheon speaker was Lt .Col. Scott McLaughlin, USAF, commander, 1st Combat Communications Squadron (1 CBCS); the topics for presentation were innovations, initiatives and lessons learned from the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) On-Ramp 4 (OR4) event for U.S. Air Forces in Europe & Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA), that took place in February at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. OR4 brought several technology capabilities and airframes together for modern air tactics, targeting, and C2, for air component missions incorporating joint services, and USAFE-AFAFRICA's OR4 event was the first "On-Ramp" event that incorporated partner nation airframes, including those from United Kingdom, Netherlands, and Poland.
The 1 CBCS/CC concentrated discussions on how tactical, operational, and strategic communication systems are the linchpin for enabling capabilities for Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) and Agile Combat Employment. Col. McLaughlin noted experiencing commercial comms via Starlink of 150 Mbps up and 50 Mbps down, but with lower actual throughput after tunnels and Defense Information System Network connections. He also shared that the OR4 event at Ramstein Air Base, paired information technology capabilities with airframe for tests of new in-flight comms. One pilot program demonstrated C-17 node tests via an aircraft attached ViaSat; the proof-of-concept was successful, although due to Safety of Flight certifications, the system was only ground-tested and not permitted for in-flight aircraft-attached operation. He also noted unique lessons learned during the OR4 event, that by leveraging new cloud and outpost capabilities like that of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Snowballs and Snowcones, industry solutions have the potential to revolutionize data to the tactical edge.
Finally, McLaughlin concluded by detailing components of traditional and new Small Comms Packages (SCPs), and noted how industry innovations within the SCPs are essential to 'rapidly deploy with the MAJCOMs Agile Combat Employment initiative.' With follow-on questions and answers, he focused on how industry can partner with the Defense Department and the Air Force to address the latest warfighter requirements, and specifically discussed how commercial solutions can be adapted to meet the needs of tactical missions.
The chapter closed the luncheon noting a 'Save the Date!' The chapter will be in person while hosting a Summer Tech Expo with industry events, dinners and a golf tournament on July 19-22, 2021 at Ramstein Air Base. COVID vaccinations are required to avoid a local 10-day Restriction of Movement.