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The command post: eyes and ears of Vandenberg

Staff Sgt. Danielle Horn, 30th Space Wing command post NCO in charge of reports (left) and Staff Sgt. Brittany Benberry, 30th SW command post NCOIC of training (right), prepare for the Combatant Command evaluation, Sep. 8, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The command post personnel work shifts around the clock, prepared at a moment’s notice to contact the commander or relay information to or from higher headquarters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Robert Volio/Released)

Staff Sgt. Danielle Horn, 30th Space Wing command post NCO in charge of reports (left) and Staff Sgt. Brittany Benberry, 30th SW command post NCOIC of training (right), prepare for the Combatant Command evaluation, Sep. 8, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The command post personnel work shifts around the clock, prepared at a moment’s notice to contact the commander or relay information to or from higher headquarters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Robert Volio/Released)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- If Vandenberg were a spider web, the 30th Space Wing command post would be the spider sitting at the center, intercepting and passing along every reverberation of information in the network of communication.

The command post personnel work shifts around the clock, prepared at a moment's notice to contact the commander or relay information to or from higher headquarters.

"We are a 24/7, 365 command and control node for the commander," said Tech. Sgt. William Bovastro, 30th Space Wing command post senior controller. "We are the eyes and ears of the base to keep the commander aware. We also provide downward directed orders from higher headquarters, whether it is from Major Command, Air Force level or the Combatant Command level, we keep the commanders informed."

Dealing with rigid time constraints, the command post maintains awareness of the commander's whereabouts at all times, so that he may be contacted at a moment's notice.

"A lot of our actions dictate specific timing criteria, we conduct reporting if there is a serious situation on base," said Senior Airman Crystal Hickman, 30th Space Wing command post emergency actions controller. "For example, one of our reports is for injury. If someone is hospitalized for 72 hours or longer we have to send up a report to air force space command to let them know of that member's situation. Also, for any report that we send up we have to have the wing commander's approval. It's a very time sensitive process. We have 15 minutes from the time of notification to get it up to AFSPC and an hour to send a hard copy."

The formulaic approach the command post employs ensures the correct people are informed at the correct times, with continuity being assured on all grounds.

"Everything is checklist oriented, and we do it as a team," said Bovastro. "There is a senior controller and a junior controller and they work together to check each other's work. Rank isn't important; if the junior controller sees something wrong they speak up right away."

Aside from adjusting to the challenges of shift work, one of the most difficult facets of the job is learning the lingo of the base's mission and being able to articulate that to commanders.

"Being at a space base command post is a completely different beast, because you have to learn to speak the space language," said Bovastro. "I am still learning the space language, which is a challenge."

Working directly with base leadership every day and knowing everything that is happening on base, often before the commander does, is a benefit that takes the sting out of shift work.

"It's a very fun job, although shift work can be rough," said Hickman. "You get to see and hear a lot of different stuff on a higher scope than what you would normally see in another career field. We have the added perk of speaking with colonels on a daily basis."