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608th Air Communications Squadron: Supporting the Nuclear Mission

  • Published
  • By Staff. Sgt. Bria Hughes
  • 8th Air Force Public Affairs

When you think of a traditional communications squadron, the first thing that may come to mind is basic computer troubleshooting and network support. However, there are cyber airmen assigned to 8th Air Force and the Joint-Global Strike Operations Center who support a larger nuclear command and control mission.

The J-GSOC is home to the 608th Air Operations Center, whose mission is to plan, direct, command, control, monitor and assess long-range strike missions to deliver operational and strategic effects for U.S. Strategic Command and theatre geographic combatant commands.

Within the 608th AOC there is a unique unit: the 608th Air Communications Squadron, or ACOMS.

Organizationally, the 608th ACOMS falls under 8th Air Force for administration purposes while also aligning under the J-GSOC for operations support.

There are over 70 active-duty members in the squadron and 10 civilians and contractors.

“Our job is to employ, maintain, upgrade and secure the Air Operations Center Weapon System (AOC-WS) in support of higher headquarter-directed AOC missions,” said Master Sgt. Adam Adams, expeditionary communications non-commissioned officer in charge.

The AOC-WS is a system of systems incorporating numerous third-party software applications and commercial off-the-shelf products. ACOMS is able to provide capabilities such as air tasking order development, intelligence assessment, and bomber command and control (C2). 

The squadron has several work centers ranging from network infrastructure maintenance to radio systems support and cyber mission defense. Airmen graduating from different cyber and radio technical schools can be directly assigned to ACOMS instead of a traditional communications squadron, which could present some skill obstacles to overcome.

“The biggest challenge for me was having to learn new material aside from what I learned in tech school because some of the systems we work on are very specific,” says Airman 1st Class Dana Fletcher, 608 ACOMS system administrator. “But thankfully I have peers here with more experience to help me navigate through it.”

With the greatest challenges often come the best rewards, which 608th ACOMS airmen have the privilege to see firsthand.

“Due to our close proximity to mission execution, we get to see the fruits of our labor through direct mission integration and intel-effect reports,” said Adams, “which is something a traditional cyber support troop doesn’t often experience.”

Unlike traditional communications squadrons, ACOMS has higher privileged administration control over their systems, allowing for a higher understanding of how diverse systems interoperate, accelerating cyber airmen for technical development.

This year, ACOMS expanded their support to encompass the Joint Nuclear Operations Center in a broader effort to unify conventional and nuclear operations under the Joint-Global Strike Operations Center.