LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. — Virginia National Guard Airmen from the 192nd Intelligence Squadron work side-by-side with the active duty Air Force every day at Langley Air Force Base. They provide critical intelligence products to support war fighting operations around the world, and several of them took part in a capabilities demonstration for local and national news media hosted March 17, 2015, by the 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing.
“ISR provides supported commanders with decision advantage,” explained Col. Timothy D. Haugh, commander of the 480th ISR Wing. “It makes sure they have the best available information for whatever decision they have to make from peacetime to the execution of combat operations.”
Because the demand for information has grown significantly, the active Air Force had to look for ways to meet the demand.
“We needed to grow our capabilities beyond the capacity of our wing, and we have done that through a partnership with the Reserves and Air National Guard,” he said. “We could not do our mission successfully without that partnership with the Guard and Reserve. They all bring a lot of capability, capacity and talents that has been an incredible value added.”
More than 100 Virginia National Guard Airmen support the ISR mission at Langley in a variety of duty statuses. Some are full time military technicians, others volunteer to serve in an active duty status , while the majority are traditional guardsmen who support the ISR mission during their monthly drill weekends.
The 192nd Intelligence Squadron is part of the 192nd Fighter Wing and engaged in what is called a “Single Wing Classic Associate” where National Guard Airmen are fully integrated with the active duty Air Force. This means they work side-by-side with the 497th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group, the 1st Fighter Wing Operations and Maintenance Groups and the 735th Supply Chain Operations Group. The 192nd Fighter Wing also conducts independent missions with the 192nd Security Forces Squadron, the 203rd RED HORSE Civil Engineering Squadron and 192nd Medical Group.
The 192nd Intelligence Squadron achieved full operational capability in June 2010 and now provide direct support to assist the active duty as they execute 70 missions a day, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year.
“I’m proud of our Airmen and the culture they have established,” said Lt. Col. David R. Lands, 192nd Intelligence Squadron Commander. “Our ability to integrate with mission partners while preserving unit identity and esprit de corps is vital to our role as citizen Airmen.”
The 192nd Intelligence Squadron’s federal mission is to “provide near-real-time, high confidence intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance products to Joint Force and Component Commanders,” Lands said. Additionally, their domestic mission is to “provide near-real-time, high confidence incident awareness and assessment for domestic operations in the Commonwealth of Virginia” in times of emergency.
No matter what their status, they all support the mission from their home station at Langley. This is possible through a global information network that allows data collected in one location to be evaluated and turned into an intelligence product by an analyst thousands of miles away, Haugh explained.
He said that commanders identify their information requirements, and then all the different requests are prioritized at the Joint Staff level. From there, analysts are assigned missions based on those priorities.
“We have a large, centrally managed process to ensure that as a nation we are placing our ISR resources against the highest priority things that meet our national security objectives and theatre objectives,” he said.
Haugh explained that data comes from a variety of aerial platforms, but the critical element is getting it to the analyst that will turn it into the product commanders need. Analysts pull in video and integrate it with other information to produce their final intelligence product.
“Our Airmen take all the data coming from those aircraft and put it into useable intelligence for supported commanders,” he said. “This allows commanders at every level in the battle space, it could be a captain or a three or four star general, to make decisions on how to position their forces.”
Through a global network of installations located in the United States as well as Germany, Korea, Hawaii and in the Central Command area of operations, collected data can be routed to an available analyst.
“We are able to leverage the entire global network, take the data and send it to analyst who can create products to support the joint war fight,” he said. “We are able to be engaged in combat operations while still at home station.”
While ISR is a highly effective integration of the latest technology, senior leaders acknowledge that it is the people who make the mission successful.
“The greatest asset today’s Air Force has is our Airmen,” said Gen. Herbert J. “Hawk” Carlisle, Commander of Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, the higher headquarters for the 480th ISR Wing. “The men and women who raise their right hand and swear an oath to our nation are simply amazing.”