205th Engineering Squadron partners with 38th Cyberspace Engineering Squadron at Tinker

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Brigette Waltermire
  • 137th Air Refueling Wing
The 205th Engineering Installation Squadron at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base partnered with the 38th Cyberspace Engineering Installation Group at Tinker Air Force Base, both in Oklahoma City, to install fiber optic cables at Tinker, April 11, 2015.

Five Airmen from the 205th worked to install new cables for four different networks Saturday and continued over the weekend.

The base would normally do this kind of installation work themselves, or contract the job out, said John "Mike" Lehmann, a civilian government employee 24th AF Cyberspace Systems integrator, but after a colleague had worked with the 205th and had nothing but good things to say, they were included for a mutually beneficial training opportunity.

"This is about as real-world as you get without being deployed," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Griswold, cable antenna communications specialist with the 205th and supervisor for the Airmen working on the cables. 

From splicing to rewiring, most of these Airmen live and breathe fiber optics.  Four of the five guardsmen installing the cables have jobs in this field in their civilian lives as well. 

"Communications is a very small community," said Griswold.

Lehmann and Griswold both have worked in fiber optics since graduation of college and tech school, respectively.

Such large careers involve very tiny wires - with each strand of glass fiber being as miniscule as a single strand of hair.  That single strand can process 10 gigabytes of data, or 80,000 phone conversations.  To fuse strands together, a fusion splicer with a microscope is used to clearly see the bond as it melts the glass ends together.

"It's kind of impressive technology - that you can fuse [something that small] together," said Senior Airman Tom Cahill, one of the only 205th Airmen in the work party to have been deployed. 

Installing fiber optic cables in the desert can be difficult because one speck of dust can shut down a system, he said.    

Although delicate, fiber optics add more versatility to equipment because the wires are bundled together to transmit light signals over long distances, much faster than copper cables.  To test the viability of this system, the installers will shine a handheld laser pointer with an adapter through the cable to test the optics through one end and look at the other to see if the light comes through. 

"We're not doing laser [eye] surgery today!" Lehmann warned as the Airmen tested the strands.

They worked with precision as they cut, fused and moved wires.  They replaced old wires bundled in zip ties with new ones secured by a fabric fastener.

"It doesn't matter what the guy before you did," said Griswold. "What matters is how you leave it."