“What do you do, 3D1X1?”

We see them all the time – walking around the installation, wearing their digital-print camouflage uniforms. They go to the super market, collect mail, visit the bank, or grab their meals at the same establishments we do.

Each and every one of our U.S. Air Force Airmen serve a purpose in accomplishing the same mission, but do we really know what they specifically do? Can you confidently say that you know the job specifics of that one Airman you saw this afternoon walking down the street or the one you bumped into at the post office and gave you an awkward, half-smile of a greeting?

For those of you just as curious as me, welcome to the first entry in my blog series, “What do you do?”, a series in which I, Airman 1st Class Timothy Kim, inform you of just what exactly some of our Airmen do to ensure the success of our installation’s mission!

The series will be posted on a monthly basis, each entry identifying a specific Air Force Specialty Code and informing you, my readers, on:

-What they do
-How they do it
-Why they do it

So, without a further ado, let’s go ahead and dive into today’s AFSC highlight!

The AFSC
3D1X1 (aka. The Client Systems Technician)

What do you do? 3D1X1

It was kind of interesting to see what we would identify as the USAF’s version of Information Technology, or the Geek Squad, actually does in our very own Saber Nation (the 52nd Fighter Wing for those of you who aren’t familiar with the lingo).

Generally – but not always – assigned to the 52nd Communications Squadron, our CST specialists have one purpose to fulfill on our installation: to sustain and operate systems through effective troubleshooting, repair, and system performance analysis.

If you’re anything like me, you probably said, out loud,  something around the lines of:

“What?”

The What:
Essentially, they ensure all electronics used for official purposes on our installation properly function. Pretty simple, right?

Boom! Mic drop.
Audio feedback. “Ow, my ears.”

What do you do? 3D1X1

But, how do they go about doing that?

The How:
The way CST Airmen go about completing their mission can be seen by envisioning three gears working together. (Do you have those three gears pictured in your head? Good!) The hypothetical gears are as follows:

The Back Shop
The Lab
The Asset Management Office

(Disclaimer: these “hypothetical gears” the author mentioned are in fact three different sections on the installation that handle CST work. They are not gears and are, in fact, very real.)

The Scenario
Let’s say you have a problem with an electronic device at work. This could range from problems with your projector or your computer not functioning the way it should or even possibly your work phone just isn’t doing its job! Who do you call – err, email – um, report the problem to?

As long as you put a ticket in for it – now made possible at your convenience with the new Virtual Enterprise Service Desk – the 52nd CS will log your problem. When tickets are first logged, they are categorized into one of the three different priority levels: Low, Medium and High.

All tickets are generally logged as low unless the client’s request to elevate the priority level is justified by the situation. If the issue involves the request from the installation commander, group commander or involves a base-wide outage, the priority will be classified as high.

The Back Shop
Let’s say your problem requires a certified CST professional to come by and handle your problem because it’s related to the hardware (external machine stuff that you can actually touch, like the monitor screen, keyboard, cables, phones, blackberries, tablets, etc.) The back shop usually handles these issues by sending out a technician to investigate, assess and fix the issue at hand.

To help you understand what they do, I concocted a little rhyme that might help you digest the information:

Packing their handy-bags of knick-knacks and tools,
The CST Airmen go off to fix
All the gizmos and gadgets, gears and spools
That got jumbled-up, fizzled out, or got in a mix

What do you do? 3D1X1What do you do? 3D1X1 What do you do? 3D1X1

Off in a car they drive away
To a building in the distance that called for help
Like a great hero they save the day
They cure all machines with a mighty, sound skelp!

What do you do? 3D1X1

But fear not, O Airman, for there’s always a way
The CST back shop shall save your day!

Something like that! By the way, is it just me, or did you guys hear Dr. Seuss groan just now?

The Lab
The lab takes care of two responsibilities: resolving software issues by remoting in and reimaging computer towers.

“Huh?” I can hear us simultaneously say, but mine’s really more of an echo because I tried to anticipate when you were going to talk, but I also wanted to speak at the same time as you for some kind of weird effect and it didn’t work out as I’d hoped. (Well, the idea sounded much better in my head… but now all I’ve got is an awkward problem…)

Speaking of problems:

If your computer has a problem or software issue, the 52nd CS lab can “remote in” to your computer. What does that mean? It means they have the ability to control your computer from their lab without having to touch your computer physically. Far out!!!

They also take computers that need to be wiped clean and “reimage” them – which is essentially what I just said. Wiped clean. Returned to default state. Pretty nifty, huh?

Both the back shop and the lab accomplish their work through processed tickets and work orders; they decide who takes what job depending on the nature of the request: is it hardware or software? (On a very specific scale, this isn’t the exact standard on which they determine their ruling, but for the simplicity of this blog, we’ll just go with that for now.)

The Asset Management Office

If your problem requires a complete replacement, or even a “Tech Refresh” (in which an installation replaces electronics around base for upgrading purposes), this office orders new equipment, tracks existing hardware and helps units get rid of old ones. So if your computer broke and can’t be fixed by the back shop or the lab, the asset management office may help you get a new one.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what that one Airman does you saw timidly waving back at you when, really, you were waving at your friend, Stephanie, who was standing behind him – and then it got real awkward because he suddenly realized who you were really waving at and tried to play it off by motioning and talking to the empty space behind you.

The 3D1X1 client systems technicians play an important role in ensuring all of our devices, normally for communication purposes, remain functional. Without them, we would no longer have the means to continue any operation that requires electronics and communication. Without them…

How would we make phone calls?
What do you do? 3D1X1

How would we answer emails?
What do you do? 3D1X1

How else are we supposed to share our favorite YouTube videos and Imgur posts about the Kardash – uhh, about the Air Force and flying aircrafts and mission stuff… yeah! Mission stuff!
Real talk, though:

The Why:
Why do the CST Airmen do what they do?

Without client system technicians, it would become increasingly difficult to perform our daily functions and duties required of us, the 52nd Fighter Wing, to perform our part in fulfilling our installation’s mission which, ultimately, affects the Air Force’s mission.

Without their contribution, we would not be able to communicate with one another, something necessary in performing official duties and mission tasks.

So, now that you know what one of our Airmen do, dear readers, could you please tell me:

What do you do?

 

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