Command post: key to mass notifications

Staff Sgt. Courtney Jackson, 9th Reconnaissance Wing Beale command post senior emergency action controller answers a phone call

Staff Sgt. Courtney Jackson, 9th Reconnaissance Wing Beale command post senior emergency action controller answers a phone call Nov. 15, 2017 at Beale Air Force Base, California. Controllers ensure information is correctly disseminated up and down the chain of command. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Tristan D. Viglianco)

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Beale Air Force Base is the only high-altitude intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance base in the Air Force and behind the scenes, 9th Reconnaissance Wing and 940th Air Refueling Wing Beale command post controllers work together to ensure information is correctly channeled up and down the chain of command.

"We are the command and control support for the base, and the central nervous system of the installation,” said Staff Sgt. Courtney Jackson, 9th RW/BCP senior emergency action controller. “Without the Command Post, leaders and personnel wouldn’t get the information they need to accomplish the Air Force mission and stay safe.”

This means there are always controllers manning the command post to obtain and field information as it comes in.

“The command post can receive notifications and message traffic any time, day or night and are always ready to respond,” said Master Sgt. Kerri Branson, 940th ARW/BCP command and control procedure instructor. We initiate the base’s response to downward directed message traffic from higher headquarters, and our 24-hour operations allows the base to be prepared for any emergency or situation.”

According to Branson, they serve as the median between higher Air Force leadership and base leadership.

“Due to the nature of our mission, we are required to consistently report information to higher headquarters, as well as disseminate information from the various commands that we are responsive to,” she said. “When in receipt of a message from higher headquarters, we review the message so we can ensure that it is sent to leadership and all of the appropriate base agencies.”

In addition to their role in command and control, command post is critical in the base’s response to emergency situations.

“Once notified of a situation or emergency, we refer to our quick reaction checklists and notify the respective agencies who must respond to the situation,” said Jackson.

These notifications go out via the emergency mass notification system or the giant voice system.

“We make sure that Key Leaders have the information they need to make command decisions and that the base populace is aware of anything that could be hazardous to them,” said Branson. “This includes wartime emergencies, natural disasters, pending weather, or man-made emergencies.”

Even though emergency situations are not every-day occurrences, the controllers must keep their emergency response skills sharp. 

“We are required to be proficient and accomplish monthly recurring training,” said Branson. “Any lapse in training or significant error can result in a controller being decertified.”

The command post also plays a part in the flight-following missions for both the 9th RW and the 940th ARW.

“We track the U-2 Dragon Lady missions as well as the T-38 Talon missions and document their status as well as departure and arrival times, ensuring Air Force assets and personnel are accounted for,” said Jackson. “Additionally, we track the KC-135 Stratotanker because it’s our responsibility to update the Global Decision Support System and report their status.”

In Beale’s day-to day-operations or an emergency, controllers at the command post are vital to the way this installation functions.