New leader takes charge of McChord communicators

By Lorin T. Smith/JBLM PAO on July 1, 2011

The unit commander charged with maintaining and protecting McChord Field's network and communications security at the head of the 627th Communications Squadron handed over those responsibilities to a new leader June 24.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert W. Povlich Jr., passed the unit guidon to Maj. Ross C. Morrell at Building 738 on McChord Field at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, signifying the end of his two-year command and marking the beginning of another. The squadron supports McChord's network systems, land-based radio communications, base weather systems and aircraft control and landing systems that help get planes off the ground. The unit even supported the Winter Olympics.

Besides tactical, real-world missions of keeping base computer systems up and running, Povlich has led the unit to achieving multiple "outstanding" ratings on Air Force-level inspections.

The 627th Air Base Group Commander Col. Kenny Weldon said the unit's dedication to joint basing stood out during Povlich's command of the communications squadron. Povlich and his team worked hand in hand with the JBLM Network Enterprise Center telephone and data experts to ensure service delivery at McChord.

The unit also established a secured Air Force network at Weldon's office in the garrison headquarters on Lewis Main.

Weldon serves as both Povlich's boss as the 627th ABG commander and as the deputy commander for the joint base.

"I can sit in my office in buildings 100 or 1010 and get on Air Force secure networks, and that's because of your willingness to step in with both feet into that role," Weldon said.

Povlich leaves the unit having accomplished many operational and joint base achievements, but he is the proudest of how all the men and women of the 627th Communications Squadron pulled together as a team to receive two "Outstanding" ratings during the Command Cyber Readiness Inspection.

"I've not dealt with another unit like this one," Povlich said. "I've had the honor and privilege to lead the 627th Communications Squadron, a high-performing team that has stepped up to every challenge and set a high bar."

Morrell takes command of the communications squadron at a unique time because most of the enlisted communications Airmen and their officers have been redesignated as cyberspace warriors. Despite the rapidly changing career field within the Air Force, Weldon called Morrell the perfect officer to lead the unit during the transition.

"I could not be more excited to have (him) as the incoming commander, because he is an ‘A Team" player and we are lucky to get him," Weldon said.

The promotable major takes the 627th reins after working as the deputy program manager, Air C2 Systems, Assistant Deputy Minister of Defense (Materiel), National Defense HQ, in Ottawa, Canada. He was the only U.S. Air Force representative to the Canadian Department of National Defense on air defense programs. Working with the nation's allies provided valuable experience for Morrell in coming to a joint base.

"I look forward to the opportunity to serve with each and every one of you in defense of this great nation," Morrell said. "I'll do everything I can to ensure you have the ... leadership, training and equipment needed to accomplish the great things you do every day."