Va. Air Guard trains to provide “big picture” service during emergencies

A 192nd Intelligence Squadron member performs an incident awareness assessment July 22, 2015, at Camp Pendleton Collective Training Center in Virginia Beach. Va.  (Photo by Master Sgt. Carlos J. Claudio, 192nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

A 192nd Intelligence Squadron member performs an incident awareness assessment July 22, 2015, at Camp Pendleton Collective Training Center in Virginia Beach. Va. (Photo by Master Sgt. Carlos J. Claudio, 192nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs)

CAMP PENDLETON, Va. — Airmen from the 192nd Intelligence Squadron, 192nd Fighter Wing based at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, joined forces with the Virginia Joint Forces Headquarters, Civil Air Patrol and county agencies during an incident awareness and assessment exercise held July 13-24, 2015, at Camp Pendleton Collective Training Center in Virginia Beach, Va. The simulated hurricane disaster response demonstrated the ability to provide near real-time full-motion video, still photography, radio communications and text chat during an annual field training exercise.

The twelve-day exercise focused on support to civil authorities. Airmen utilized the Geospatial Information Interoperability Exploitation Portable System which provided video signals from a portable camera system flown aboard a CAP Cessna aircraft. Video signals were transmitted to local ground teams, including the Joint Forces Headquarters Operations Center and Incident Management Teams in Chesterfield and Hampton Roads for processing and analysis, facilitating near real-time decision making during the simulated emergency.

“The main purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate interoperability and communication between the JOC, CAP, 192nd IS and the IMT; refine our incident awareness and assessment capability, and provide a platform where our Airmen can apply their skills in support of local first responders here in Virginia,” said Capt. Erin, 192nd IS exercise officer in charge.

“This is a hurricane scenario so we have a list of objectives, but at the same time, if the IMTs requests a visual or damage assessment of a nuclear reactor so they can make a decision, we have that flexibility,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael, 192nd IS mission planning cell non-commission officer in charge.

Once video and still images are obtained from the 192nd IS aircrew, imagery analysts process key images based on the geospatial coordinates embedded in the photos. Valuable findings such as blocked hurricane evacuation routes, washed-out bridges, or disabled cars, are forwarded to the Virginia National Guard JOC and state emergency management agencies for coordinated response efforts.

“I created and delivered specialized training in advance of this exercise so our team could effectively utilize the skills and tools they had available,” according to Tech. Sgt. James, domestic operations training program manager. “I wanted to ensure the exercise was realistic and the additional events incorporated into the scenario would further develop our Airmen’s skills. A hurricane hitting the Virginia coastline is a likely scenario, and we want to be prepared to respond if needed.”

Interoperation with other agencies is vital.

“I coordinated with external agencies and to ensure everything was in place to facilitate a collaborative training environment,” said Master Sgt. Joseph, communications support. “My goal was to have all the emergency management agencies here who we would partner with in a real emergency situation.”

A relationship with the Chesterfield IMT is important said Bryan Swanson, Chesterfield Incident Management Team deputy program manager.

“The Virginia Air National Guard has access to staff that we don’t have at the local level and we have access to some IT at the local level that they don’t have in their cache,” said Swanson. “Between the two, each entity can augment the other’s mission and combined they are a force multiplier.”

“I’m proud of the capability our airmen provide to decision makers in the Commonwealth of Virginia” said Lt. Col. David, 192nd IS Commander. “July’s exercise provided an opportunity for us to work with local and regional partners in an effort to truly understand their needs during incidents that will require us to efficiently work together. Our goal is to provide decision advantage to local and state officials when requested. I’m confident that our citizen airmen are prepared to respond when the commonwealth calls.”

Note: For operational security reasons, Airmen in this news article are only identified by rank and first name.

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