Command, control and communication training strengthens 24/7 operations

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Katie Maricle
  • Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations

The Command, Control and Communication section of Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations is a 24-hour operations center that constantly tracks overseas mortuary cases throughout the Department of Defense. When a fallen service member is directed to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, C3 controllers are responsible for tracking and coordinating every facet of the movement of remains up to the fallen member’s departure to their final resting place.

C3 is staffed by services Airmen serving on a six-month deployment as well as civilian personnel who provide expertise on the specifics of the C3 mission and continuity through deployment rotations. The team is broken up into three eight-hour shifts to ensure AFMAO can respond with little notice to a casualty in the DoD.

A crucial element to C3 operations is regular training sessions. The C3 team gathers monthly to engage in a training session that reviews processes, encourages feedback and strengthens communication between members and shift teams.

“It helps everyone get on the same page, so we’re not playing the telephone game through shifts and messages don’t get misconstrued,” said Joe Cooper, C3 specialist. Cooper is one of six civilians who works in C3 and oversees training for the deployed Airmen.

The curriculum is designed to not only review important facets of the C3 mission, but help Airmen work through potential scenarios that may arise.

“We have a yearly training plan that we follow to teach different scenarios,” said Brent Blankenship, C3 specialist. “Our curriculum is geared toward the critical tasks we have to perform when it’s go time.”

Cooper explained that gathering all C3 Airmen together fosters a cooperative environment that empowers members of all ranks to share ideas.

“If people want to collaborate, we can have everyone together to improve a process or a product that we’re working on,” he said.

One way that C3 uses training to empower Airmen is by having the deployed Airmen teach the material themselves.

“A lot of Airmen today may not have experience in public speaking – especially the younger Airmen,” said Cooper. “When you have them stand up in front of the team and deliver that material, that gives them skills they can take outside of C3.”

Allowing Airmen to deliver the training themselves also allows the opportunity for the curriculum to be fitted to each member, rather than one size fits all.

“Individuals can get involved in their own course of learning and what works for them based on their learning type,” said Blankenship.

AFMAO prides itself on being a no-fail mission in the Air Force, and maintaining skills in C3 ensures that, from receiving the initial notification of a fallen service member, to coordinating the fallen’s departure to their final resting place, remains that come to AFMAO are cared for with dignity, honor and respect.

“The biggest benefit of this training is that no one gets complacent,” said Blankenship.

Throughout various operations tempos, the mission of C3 will always stay constant, and through regular training and collaboration, the team will be ready to answer the call to care for our nation’s fallen at any time.