Dial '0' for Schriever operator
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Tina Burch is one of fourteen Defense Switched Network operators at Schriever. Operators began receiving DSN calls Oct. 30 when the 50th Space Communications Squadron here and contractors with Harris Misison Communications and Operations Maintenance took over DSN operator functions for the Defense Information Systems Agency. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Michael Phillips)
Morale calls now connect through Schriever operators

by Staff Sgt. Don Branum
50th Space Wing Public Affairs

11/7/2006 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- More than 500,000 morale calls that pass through Defense Switched Network phone lines around the world each year now make connections through Schriever. 

A history of cooperation and "can-do" attitudes among Schriever's team of Airmen, government civilians and contractors led the Defense Information Systems Agency to give its DSN operator mission to the base. 

"DISA was looking for a military base rather than a civilian location to perform the (DSN operator) function," said Alan Wenzel, a contractor with Harris Corporation's Mission Communications and Operations Maintenance who works with the 50th Space Communications Squadron here. 

The agency had originally planned to move the operator mission to another base, but the deal fell through. That gave Schriever an opportunity to step up. 

"The wing leadership stood up and said yes, even though they knew it would be challenging," Mr. Wenzel said. 

The challenge lay in the timeline: Schriever's communications experts would have to accomplish a lot of tasks in very little time. Mr. Wenzel said DISA's work on previous projects with Schriever led the agency to believe the 50th Space Wing would be up to this task as well. 

The 50th SCS' team proved DISA right. In record time, they managed contract negotiations with DISA and the previous contractor; a unique hardware and software solution; and hiring and training operators to fill the new jobs. 

"We had to bring in the first-ever consolidated base-DSN integration system," Mr. Wenzel said. "That had never been done before." 

The entire process, normally up to a year long, was compressed into six weeks. 

"The paperwork started Sept. 18, and live traffic cut in Oct. 30," Mr. Wenzel said. 

Schriever's secret was cooperation and teamwork among civil servants and MCOM contractors representing the local area network helpdesk, project managers, engineers, power technicians and cable managers, said Kenneth Lavoie of MCOM. 

"The cooperation and can-do attitudes were critical," Mr. Wenzel said. 

DISA, the Air Force Communications Agency and software subcontractor T-Metrics also provided key support. 

"T-Metrics, MCOM, DISA and 50th SW really pulled together to meet an aggressive timeline and have Department of Defense-wide effects," said Maj. Donovan Routsis, 50th SCS commander. 

"The telephone operators are where the rubber meets the road," Mr. Lavoie said. "But there are also a lot of team members, both government and contractor, behind the scenes that made this happen."