BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS)
In a windowless room, illuminated only by the light of computer screens, intelligence Airmen of the 455th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron paint a picture of the battlespace clear as day.
With intelligence gathered from multiple platforms, from ground forces to satellites, the unit collects, analyzes, and formulates up-to-date reports for commanders to make critical decisions where lives are sometimes on the line.
“Intelligence informs operational planning based on the commander’s needs and the particular military objective, increasing chances for success,” said Tech. Sgt. Jarom Saurey, the 455th EOSS Intelligence Flight superintendent. “Analysis reports draw on all available sources of information, including existing and newly collected material. These reports are used to inform and influence the planning staff and seek to predict the adversary’s intent.”
In order to meet this goal, Airmen from several intel Air Force specialty codes use several scientific and mathematical processes, such as using geo-locational mensuration functions, historical trend analysis, and manipulating geospatial databases. While it may sound like a Ph.D. in rocket science is needed to decipher these techniques, the 455th EOSS intelligence flight Airmen find parallels in a simpler explanation.
“A good analogy of what intel does is similar to the weather flight,” said Maj. Joseph Shupert, the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing senior intelligence officer. “We are both analysts who collect and interpret data that we can’t control, determine what it means to air operations, and present the combined data and assessment to aircrews and leaders to ensure mission execution.”
However, intelligence isn’t just a one agency job. Airmen from the 455th EOSS work with other services, civilian entities, and sometimes other countries to ensure that they provide decision makers with best information available.
“As the senior Air Force intelligence element in theater, we coordinate with lateral and higher headquarters intelligence elements from our sister services, coalition partners, joint headquarters, and national-level intelligence agencies which allow us to leverage their capabilities for our intelligence requirements,” Shupert said. “The various intelligence products we create provide leaders with situational awareness that enables them to make threat-informed decisions, risk assessments, force protection measures, manning decisions and many more.”
To best accomplish their mission in the combined-intelligence stream, the intelligence flight has developed a unique set of skills.
“Our various skill levels and experiences allow us to identify opportunities to constantly improve our intelligence products,” Shupert explained. “Through this we gain ever increasing levels of expertise on the threats our Airmen face operating at Bagram and conducting missions across Afghanistan.”
From the squad leader protecting the base from the ground, to the F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots conducting strikes from the air, every mission in Afghanistan is reliant upon good, up-to-the-minute intel. The Airmen of the 455th EOSS Intelligence Flight provide this every day, even if they cannot technically “see” outside their windowless room.