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21st Communications Squadron provides quality service

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

The 21st Communications Squadron on Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, is comprised of many groups working toward the mission.

The mission of the 21st CS is to provide quality communication systems and services to the 21st SW and its units worldwide. This includes equipping, administering, training and providing personnel to operate and maintain ground communications, electronics and computer systems and facilities. The communications are in support of North American Aerospace Defense Command, U.S. Northern Command, Air Force Space Command, Army Space Command, the 21st SW and many other Peterson complex units. 

The 21st CS commander is responsible for operations, maintenance, programming and implementation of command, control, communications, computer and visual information systems in support of the Peterson Complex. In addition, they provide electronic-meteorological services to Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, the U.S. Air Force Academy and Fort Carson, all of which are located in Colorado.

One of these groups is the Knowledge Management Center, which works to store records, update SharePoint and help inform the 21st SW on personal identifiable information, the Freedom of Information Act, forms and publications.

The KMC is divided into three programs: record management, FOIA, and privacy management, according to Master Sgt. James Domingo, KMC non-commissioned officer in charge.

Records management

The KMC assesses record programs for organizations in the 21st SW. This means assessing the organization’s records programs, training and helping groups set up an account on the Air Force Record Information Management System, said Domingo.

“Just think of anything you guys create, we create, the Force Support Squadron creates, medical creates – those are considered official records,” Domingo said.

Everyone can create records – including Word documents, presentations, maps, designs and more – but every office has a different requirement for how long those should be archived.

The KMC would in the past store physical copies of records in the staging area, a large warehouse located on base. Now, all records are stored online.

“There’s not one office you walk into that doesn’t have records, and they have to have good continuity,” said Guadalupe Hernandez, 21st CS base records manager. “It’s a requirement that before you leave, you leave us what we need to continue the job.”

The goal is to streamline records management across the Air Force, Hernandez said.

“There are different things to look at as far as retention or requirements. Every state could be different,” he said. “It’s not easy. It’s a lot to look at.”

FOIA

The office also acts as the liaison between members of the public seeking information through FOIA and the owner of the records, Domingo said.

“We’re the ones that catch those requests and we coordinate it to the contracting squadron,” he said. “They’re going to locate those records and redact those exemptions on what to release and what not to release.”

The FOIA program is a priority for the squadron, said Staff Sgt. Christopher Bass, 21st CS publications and forms manager.

“Anyone can submit a request to the office, and the Air Force can be sued if they’re not able to provide documents,” Bass said. “That’s why the FOIA program takes priority.”

Privacy Act

Airman Tavaris Quinn, 21st CS privacy manager, and Airman First Class Lawrence Walker, 21st CS enterprise information apprentice, run Peterson AFB’s privacy program and work on SharePoint, a web-based document management and storage platform.

Through SharePoint, Air Force personnel can sign up for physical training tests and swap resources with fellow squadron members, Bass said.

“Each page has something similar with their mission, their vision, their leadership, important documents or links that everyone should have access to,” Walker said. “When we specifically go to one CS page, we have the ticketing system where people can put in their request to have something done – like they need permission or access to something, or they want something built on their page and they’re not quite sure how.”

The two also train other Airmen on the importance of protecting PII, which can include an Airman’s full name or Social Security number, Bass said.

“Things like that can be used to take somebody’s identity or use it against them in a negative way,” he said. “It’s our job throughout the Air Force to protect that. We’re the ones that control the permission, so not everyone can go in and see it – which ties into PII because by locking down the permissions, it makes it so people who shouldn’t see stuff, don’t.”

In the event of a PII breach, 21st CS members quickly flag the information and capture what was released and to what event, Bass said.

 “What we want to do overall is mitigate any damage,” he said. “We don’t want military members’ information getting out there. We want them safe and protected.”

If an Airman does cause a PII breach, he or she will be subject to training, Quinn said.

“It’s people’s livelihoods at stake, so if you do release any information by any chance, you have to go through some sort of training so we can make sure it won’t happen again and so we know how to go about it in different situations,” he said.

The ultimate goal is to stop all PII breaches by offering training and spreading awareness, Bass said.

“We’d rather give the education before an incident happens, as opposed to afterwards,” he said. “If they have any questions on the program, they can reach out to us anytime.”

21st CS exists to protect Airmen’s personal information, as well as guard and preserve records across Peterson. For information on how to safeguard PII or other records management, call 719-556-7180.

Peterson SFB Schriever SFBCheyenne Mountain SFSThule AB New Boston SFS Kaena Point SFS Maui