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Senior Airman George Carabin, 8th Communications Squadron, runs a “bit error rate” test from Kunsan Air Base to Osan Air Base. His unit recently won an award for best of its size in the Pacific.
Senior Airman George Carabin, 8th Communications Squadron, runs a “bit error rate” test from Kunsan Air Base to Osan Air Base. His unit recently won an award for best of its size in the Pacific. (Robert Wollenberg / Courtesy of USAF)

The airmen who ensure Kunsan Air Base in South Korea can reach the outside world through e-mail and long-distance phone calls have been chosen as the best in the Pacific for an operation their size.

The Defense Information Systems Agency, said Capt. Scott O’Malley, gave the transmission center where they work — the Technical Control Facility — the award over seven other similar-sized transmission centers in the Pacific: four in South Korea, two in Japan and one in the Marshall Islands.

DISA is responsible for the communications grid used by the U.S. military worldwide, said O’Malley, the 8th Communications Squadron Information Systems flight commander.

He said the three airmen and two South Korean employees comprising the Kunsan center staff were “real excited … to actually be recognized as the best in the Pacific … was outstanding.”

The staffers are responsible for keeping tabs on a variety of scopes, meters, digital screens and other electronics hardware to ensure communications flow smoothly over Kunsan’s computer and phone links to the outside world.

Computer viruses, faulty transmission lines, even heavy message traffic all can degrade the base’s communications, O’Malley said — but the transmission center staff “can identify where there’s problems with the lines so that, as necessary, they can move over to back-up or redundant lines to ensure that there’s 100 percent reliability.”

A 10-member panel from within DISA’s Pacific region reviewed and compared the eight centers’ yearly performance records before selecting Kunsan, O’Malley said.

Evaluators looked at criteria including how well the centers did in reporting communications problems and keeping higher headquarters updated on repairs; in restoring downed systems, and in ensuring “service reliability” — working to avert conditions that could cause the systems to fail, O’Malley said. Of seven criteria, Kunsan got top scores in five, he said.

The transmission center “provides all communication links into and out of Kunsan Air Base,” said Tech. Sgt. Steven Haile, noncommissioned officer-in-charge. “That’s phones and networks, and we’re able to pass mission data, so it’s very vital and very critical to our mission.

“And then there’s the morale issue too. These are the links ... back home.”

Like other airmen at Kunsan, Haile has benefited from long-distance calls.

“My wife basically is taking care of everything back home and it’s a lot of added stresses and pressures for her,” Haile said. “So that phone link ... is really beneficial."

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