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85th EIS saves Dragons $200,000

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

Some people may not know about the partnership between Keesler Air Force Base and the 85th Engineering Installation Squadron.

Throughout the last year the two have been strengthening their partnership by utilizing the skillsets of the 85th EIS Airmen, which helped save the 81st Training Wing over $200,000.

“Manpower is what it comes down to so you’re going to save a lot of money by not putting that on contracts,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jennifer Carns, 85th EIS commander. “Some [contracts] are fee for service, but there’s some contracts where they say how much you’re paying and what the expectations are. There’s different kinds of contracts and those costs can definitely add up.”

 Typically, those outside the career field think all they do is climb on powerlines, however, that is not the case explained Carns.

“We have various capabilities,” said Carns. “We do everything from standard cable, fiber installs, electromagnetic radiation surveys to antenna replacements on base.”

Although the 170 85th EIS Airmen constantly support many units from around the world, they also assist with missions much closer to home. When lightning struck the 338th Training Squadron satellite simulator tower they did not hesitate to help.

“We were able to provide measurements for their facility grounding system following that lightning strike,” said Carns. “The training squadron said they have labs and facilities to train their students, so it was really important to make sure it was back online. My folks helped identify faulty grounding requiring replacements and provided the information to the contractors, so they could protect the approximately $1 million antenna and associated satellite communication equipment.”

The partnership between the 81st TRW and the 85th EIS also provides the squadron ample training opportunities at no extra cost to them.

“Typically, we do all of our work TDY and there’s a lot of cost but occasionally we’ll get jobs available on Keesler and that gives us a chance to get a lot of different people out there without spending the money,” said Staff Sgt. Deborah Luckstead, 85th EIS cable and antenna systems supervisor. “We can put five extra people on a job that would normally take five people and they can be watching or switching in and out to train on it. It’s a great opportunity.”

Some people may not think about the overall effect their job has on a mission, but Luckstead does just the opposite.

“If we didn’t put the communication cable between the buildings then we wouldn’t have our networks, phones or anything like that,” said Luckstead. “It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that we do make a difference.”