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Command post Airmen maintain operations during COVID-19

Command and control operations specialists work in the command post on base during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tech. Sgt. Bryan Wetenkamp and Master Sgt. Ashley Kuske, 115th Fighter Wing command and control operations specialists, work in the command post on base during the COVID-19 pandemic, May 25, 2020. The team has had to adjust their work schedules in order to mitigate their chances of exposure to the virus and to ensure the safest working conditions possible during the pandemic.

MADISON, Wis. --

The 115th Fighter Wing's command post team has many missions to accomplish at the Wing. The command post Airmen provide diligent support to the 24/7 Aerospace Control Alert mission, serve as an integral part of the installation command and control construct, receive and disseminate orders, information and requests necessary for the command and control of assigned forces and operations, along with several other daily tasks and responsibilities.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and leadership directed safe working operations, command post Airmen were limited. While many people across base started working from home to mitigate exposure to COVID-19, Airmen in the command post had to find alternative safety measures.

"We do not have the ability to telework due to the ACA mission," said Master Sgt. Ashley Kuske, 115th FW command and control operations specialist. "The biggest challenge we have had is to remain proactive to ensure the health of all controllers."

According to Kuske, this meant the team had to adjust their work schedules in order to limit exposure to one another. This was not the first time they have had to adjust work schedules for each other.

"During normal operations, work-life balance can be a struggle due to children and pets because we are away from home for a continuous 24-hours," Kuske said. "Many of us have to rely on spouses and family to help, and some of us have first responder spouses which can present other difficulties during our scheduled shifts. Each controller experiences his or her own challenges, but everyone does an excellent job mitigating those challenges and performing at his or her highest level."

Tech. Sgt. Bryan Wetenkamp, 115th FW command and control operations specialist, agrees with Kuske.

"It is a career that one can never know everything about because not a single day is the same," Wetenkamp said. "We take huge pride knowing that our role, even though it may seem small, has a significant impact on our nation's homeland defense. We are constantly learning and growing."

As far as operations are concerned, there have not been any significant changes, other than more message processing and communication with headquarters.

When asked if COVID-19 had any effect on their future plans to serve in the Air National Guard, they were confident it has not changed a thing.

"We both have plans of serving until they kick us out," Kuske said. "Both Tech. Sergeant Wetenkamp and I continue to serve because #merica -- but on a serious note, we take great pride in what we do and what we have accomplished both individually and as part of the 115th Fighter Wing."

The pandemic may not have changed their daily operations much, but it has given them a different perspective to share.

"The biggest thing to take out of this COVID-19 pandemic is that we are all in the same storm, but in different boats," Kuske said. "Remember to be kind, flexible and remember the reason why we are here. Oh, and wash your hands."

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