JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. –
Nearly 20 Virginia National Guard Airmen assigned to the 192nd Intelligence Squadron, based at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, spent more than two months working around the clock to provide Incident Awareness and Assessment support to five states and territories following devastating hurricanes and tropical storms this summer and fall.
Beginning Sept. 28, 2017, the 192nd IS stood up an Unclassified Process and Dissemination team to provide situational awareness and assessment to civil authorities during natural disasters or emergencies.
“Like a NASCAR spotter, we’re the eye in the sky,” said Chief Master Sgt. Kevin McNamee.
For 65 days, the Airmen of the 192nd UPAD worked around the clock in teams of five at a time processing, analyzing and disseminating images and video of storm-damaged areas. As part of their effort to aid local, regional and federal officials in Georgia, Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the team analyzed imagery from damaged areas, provided route analysis, damage assessments and more. They used open source information, unclassified systems and imagery provided by military and civilian aircraft, including the Civil Air Patrol.
In total the Airmen of the 192nd provided more than 3,000 products in support of National Guard and Federal Emergency Management Agency operations in in the Southern U.S. and Caribbean, according to Master Sgt. Michelle Riter.
“We provided a total of six assessments to the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, including an overall assessment for him on conditions in Florida,” Riter said.
In one instance, members of the 192nd used imagery to spot a chemical leak at a refinery in Texas. They then notified authorities on the ground who confirmed the chemicals were leaking into the water supply.
The process of establishing the UPAD began about a year ago, according to McNamee. It was still being set up when the storms hit and the 192nd was asked to activate it and begin performing missions.
Not only was the UPAD new for the 192nd but, according to 192nd personnel, this was the first time a UPAD has been stood up and used in an operational capacity nationwide, meaning there was a lot to learn and fine tune as the operation went on.
In addition to the valuable experience the Airmen gained during the operation, the relationships the 192nd developed with personnel from the Air National Guard in other states, as well as other federal agencies, will come in handy should assistance ever be needed in Virginia following a storm or natural disaster.
In the meantime, the 192nd now has a wealth of experience their Airmen can share with other units across the country for future domestic operations.