RAWS training maintains peak performance Airmen
By Airman 1st Class Jake Jacobsen, 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 04, 2020
COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Aircraft at Columbus Air Force, Mississippi, rely on radar and communication systems when navigating the skies; and the Airmen that maintain those systems must ensure they do so in a safe manner, often having to climb 100 feet to assess the equipment.
When it comes to supporting air traffic control, the National Weather Service, and command and control across the wing, the 14th Operations Support Squadron’s Radar, Airfield and Weather Systems (RAWS) Flight provides around-the-clock upkeep of base and regional radar equipment, ground-to-air radios and weather systems.
“If it helps a plane get off the ground, it is our job to make sure it works,” said Senior Airman Brandon Culp, 14th Operations Support Squadron RAWS journeyman. “It is our job to work on radios, radars, landing equipment, and electrical equipment that aids the Radar Approach Control to communicate with planes, and outside agencies.”
Maintaining these systems and equipment require RAWS Airmen to be seasoned climbers, able to ascend and descend towers. Training is implemented to help Airmen become familiar and comfortable with the equipment they use, and create safe work habits.
“A bunch of systems require the RAWS Airmen to be over 10 feet off the ground, which once 10 feet off the ground it is required by the Air Force to wear climbing gear and receive training so no one is harmed and no equipment is damaged,” Culp said.
Chief Master Sgt. Kellie Brisse, 14th Operations Group superintendent, had the opportunity to experience the training the RAWS flight undergoes as a way to keep current on their requirements.
“As a leader, I think it is really important to get to know what your Airmen do and immerse yourself in it,” Brisse said. “I don’t have the particular skillset that the RAWS flight does but I can at least see some of the physical aspects they have to do.”
Visiting the RAWS flight allowed Brisse to see firsthand how the RAWS flight manages functioning equipment to safely land, fly and communicate with aircraft in the skies.
Brisse mentioned she uses these opportunities to connect with Airmen and foster professional relationships to help get them where they want to be in their careers.
“The attention to detail over here is amazing and the depth of knowledge that the Airmen have to know to do their job is impressive,” Brisse said. “It is up to us in the leadership position to recognize what our Airmen do, mentor them and get them to where they want to be.”
As an experienced climber, Culp said he enjoys training Airmen and leaders on his job noting that some things are not taught with normal training like a sudden fear of heights or high winds. The climbing training sets Airmen into real-world experiences and it is the duty of the instructors to coach them through stressful situations, how to hook in properly, take a break when needed, and propel down.
Culp said it’s always nice having leadership take an interest and having that opportunity to connect with them in a training environment.
“Our climbing training is very important for our job and I make sure safety is the number one priority while climbing because I don’t want any other Airmen getting hurt,” Culp said.