AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq –
A team of Multi-Capable Airmen at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, have stepped out of their traditional responsibilities to become vital force multipliers for joint and coalition partners across the installation.
Embracing MCA, a defender and a client systems technician from the 443rd Air Expeditionary Squadron became skilled in communication capabilities and setting up technical communication equipment, taking it upon themselves to become proficient in skills they traditionally wouldn’t have been required to learn.
This drive started from the moment they arrived. By capitalizing on an opportunity to innovate and increase efficient and effective communication capabilities for the Airmen around him, Senior Airman Byron McNeill Jr., 443rd AES supply and security forces fireteam lead, decided to face the challenge head-on.
McNeill crafted a plan alongside Staff Sgt. Daniel Meeks, 443rd AES client systems technician, within a few days of arriving on the installation.
“I knew that we had a frequency that was supposed to work but didn’t, and I knew that we should be getting further range with our radios than what they were getting,” said McNeill. “My leadership gave me the chance, and I just took the opportunity and ran with it. Then, it was just collaborating with everyone around me and finding out trial and errors with the radios.”
A Defender coming to the 443rd AES with prior radio operation experience, McNeill’s collaboration with Meeks has paid dividends for the installation.
“We call each other almost every day asking each other about things,” said Meeks. “He's strong-willed with what he wants done and he gets it done. It’s been really easy going with him. We’ve improved our communication capabilities already in just our first month of being here.”
Feeding off each other’s skill sets, they have raised three communication antennas and boosted long-range communications in multiple Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicles. They assisted and reprogrammed Norwegian Armed Forces radios and were able to get communication capabilities immediately restored. McNeill and Meeks have also held classes with other 443rd AES Defenders, giving them the skills to troubleshoot their communication equipment and change their radio frequencies to respond to any situation.
Ensuring communication capabilities are effective and efficient for others, while teaching the next Multi-Capable Airman, is what continues to fuel both.
“Communication is the biggest thing in any scenario,” said McNeill. “Being able to give the warfighter the ability to talk to one another and to talk to higher ups, brings it all together. There are no mistakes when good communication is in play.”