Col. Michael Lewis, commander, USAFE Air and Space Communications Group.

Col. Michael Lewis, commander, USAFE Air and Space Communications Group. (Charlie Coon / S&S)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — A new group has been formed to oversee communications for the U.S. Air Forces in Europe.

The Europe Air and Space Communications Group (ACOMG) brings together more than 500 military and civilian personnel under Col. Michael Lewis.

Their job will be to focus on USAFE’s need for telephone, radar, satellite, radio and other ways to get information back and forth.

Lewis said another of the group’s goals is to enable USAFE’s commanders to focus on other matters.

“Using communications in all our militaries is pretty much how we fight,” Lewis said. “It holds us together to fight with all the tools we have.”

The three squadrons that make up the new communications group are:

• 1st Combat Communications Squadron. Among its duties are setting up communications equipment and air traffic control systems for warfare and contingencies.

• 1st Air and Space Communications Squadron. Its responsibilities include coordinating communications used for control of air and space, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

• 1st Communications Maintenance Squadron. Restores, maintains, trains and supports Air Force communications and information systems on an emergency basis.

The communications group’s annual budget is $3.5 million. Its equipment is valued at $118 million.

“Functionally, it makes more sense this way,” Lewis said.

“The group commander can focus on operational communications.”

Lewis said he has been an officer for 19 years, all of them in communications. Times have changed since the days when computers used punch cards and operated on basic programs.

Communications, he said, has become a field for specialists.

“We don’t have many enlisted folks writing software anymore,” Lewis said.

A lot of things can cause communication breakdowns, Lewis said — telecommunications cables in oceans can be cut, satellites can break down, telephones fail.

“We’ve still got to be able to route that [communications] traffic,” Lewis said.

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