An Explanation of
MSgt Harvey Hartman
272nd EIS, TxANG
Engineering and Installation Squadrons (commonly known as E&I) are responsible for the engineering, installation, modification, relocation and removal of ground-based, non-mobile communications, radar, and aeronautical navigation systems for the USAF and ANG. These projects can be as small as a team of two or three personnel installing a security camera on a pole to large projects that may involve up to a hundred E&I members, such as installing a complex fiber optic computer network throughout an entire Air Force Base. E&I personnel are trained and equipped for both stateside and overseas assignments, in peacetime and wartime.
E&I's roots can be traced as far back as 1901 when the Army Signal Corps sent Lt Billy Mitchell to string 1400 miles of telegraph cable across Alaska. In 1938, the Army Airways Communication System (AACS) was organized and was assigned directly under the Army Air Forces in 1943, which became part of the new US Air Force upon its creation in 1947. The USAF distributed the personnel and functions into five Installation and Maintenance (I&M) Squadrons. Throughout the 1950s, the USAF was in its infancy and much of its infrastructure was still being converted from WWII era Army Air Corps Flying Fields into Air Force Bases. Additionally, the Cold War was rapidly gaining momentum, which created the urgent need for a stronger national defense. As a result, in 1958 the AF reshaped the five I&M Squadrons into a larger and more organized workforce capable of managing the rapidly increasing USAF communications installation workload. This new workforce was named Ground Electronics Engineering and Installation Agency, or GEEIA. During the 1960s, GEEIA's workload increased by leaps and bounds as the Cold War escalated and demanded greater and greater communications capabilities for our military. However, once the communications structure was in place, the need for new communications installations was reduced and the large GEEIA workforce could no longer be justified. In 1970, GEEIA was cut drastically and merged into the Air Force Communications Service (AFCS.) GEEIA was reorganized and renamed E&I during the 1980s and is currently part of the Air Force Material Command (AFMC.)
E&I is presently made up of 19 ANG Squadrons scattered across the United States and one active duty USAF E&I Squadron at Keesler AFB, MS which provides guidance and liaison between the ANG and USAF. E&I falls under the Information Technologies Division within AFMC. The E&I workforce is composed of "inside plant" personnel such as Radio, Radar and Satcom electronics maintenance, and "outside plant" personnel such as Cable, Antenna and Construction workers. Additional support functions such as Management, Administration, Engineering, Drafting, Supply, Vehicle Maintenance, and others are included in E&I Squadrons.
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