NEWS | Feb. 12, 2015

Command Post: Leaderships' eyes and ears by day and night

By Senior Airman Dennis Sloan Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Like an eagle during the day and an owl at night, 628th Air Base Wing Command Post Airmen are always on watch.

Their mission is to provide unrivalled and continuous worldwide command and control to Joint Base Charleston's leaders and mission partners. They are the commander's "eyes and ears."

This involves receiving and disseminating instructions, as well as collecting, processing and relaying information to base leaders and higher headquarters commands.

Incidents don't just stop when the sun goes down; therefore, neither does the Command Post. Their Airmen work 12-hour shifts, and their mission continues 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

"We try to keep [the controllers] on day shifts for a month and then rotate them to night shifts for a month," said Senior Master Sgt. Denita Sampsell, 628 ABW/CP superintendent. "We are always required to have 2 controllers on shift at all times."

While some offices decrease operations during certain times of the year, controllers work through holidays, family days and even base closures.

"We are the focal point for emergency responses on base," said Tech. Sgt. Daniel Moore, 628th ABW/CP controller. "We are a 24/7 link for Airmen around the world, and what we do every day or night here at home impacts the mission overseas."

If an incident or critical situation occurs, CP Airmen must notify all affected commanders.

"I would estimate we call the Joint Base Commander 10 times a week, during duty and non-duty hours," said Sampsell. "We also use e-mail for notifications."

The CP is one of the few designated restricted areas on base.  Unlike at many offices on base, service members can't just casually drop by. 

"Visitors must pick up a phone and be cleared for entry," said Staff Sgt. Nicholas Scheiman, 628th ABW CP controller. "The "deadly force is authorized" sign on the outer door discourages [many]."

Charleston's nature as a Joint Base creates unique challenges for the Controllers here.

"Most command posts deal with one Major Command, whereas JB Charleston's command post deals with several MAJCOMs, different services and multiple other entities," said Sampsell.

Controllers become the hub in a crisis and provide vital information to the commanders across JB Charleston. 

"Palmetto Operations is more than the 'Giant Voice' and AtHoc system that people are most familiar with," said Sampsell.

Operations conducted by Airmen in the CP play a crucial role in keeping leaders informed and directly contribute to the JB CHS mission, "Serving All."

"I'm a night owl," said Moore. "It's interesting seeing what goes on while most people are asleep. The base just keeps on ticking."