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NEWS | Aug. 11, 2017

SECAF visits ISR Airmen in Virginia

By Tech Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady and Lori A. Bultman 25th Air Force Public Affairs

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson visited 25th Air Force Airmen during her trip to Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Aug. 3, 2017.

The visit began with Wilson being introduced to 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing leaders, where she also witnessed the importance and innovative concept of the wing’s Airmen Resilient Team.

Airmen Resilience Teams consists of chaplains, mental health and physical health technicians who have the appropriate security clearance to speak with and provide direct support to ISR Airmen, and were created after operational health stress studies conducted by the 497th ISR Group and others showed there was a need.


“We were extremely excited to highlight the members of our Airmen Resiliency Team to the Secretary of the Air Force,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Jason Brown, commander, 480th ISRW. “These professionals are literally life-savers. They represent the best innovation in the history of our wing.”


Wilson then toured the wing’s Distributed Common Ground System operations floor where analysts explained how they exploit footage, utilize ISR capabilities and conduct daily operations. The Air Force Distributed Common Ground System is the service’s primary Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, planning and direction, collection, processing and exploitation, analysis and dissemination weapon system.


While on the operations floor, Wilson also visited the innovation lab.


The innovation lab is a grass roots effort developed by Airmen throughout the Wing to develop new ideas and technology, leading to collaborations among analysts to improve the DCGS.


“The innovation labs are an important part of the evolution of our weapon system,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Dustin Finamore, 480th ISRW innovation lead.  “The traditional idea behind a weapon system in the Air Force is focused on hardware, such as the F-22 Raptor. Our weapon system is, like many of our emerging capabilities in the cyber world, primarily software based. Software must be updated and adapted on a much faster pace, and often dynamically, to meet mission requirements. The labs will enable our Airmen to do exactly that, to evolve and adapt the weapon system in real time.”


Wilson recognized Innovation Lab Airmen by presenting coins to several who created the lab and developed applications for the DCGS.


“Our Airmen were incredibly excited to show Secretary Wilson what they do every day in support of the units and commanders downrange,” said Brown. “It was a great opportunity to show how our Airmen rapidly integrate data and capabilities to create an impact on a battlefield thousands of miles away.”


Wilson’s visit to Joint Base Langley-Eustis also included a tour of the 363rd ISRW's Target Development Cell which is co-located with the 480th ISRW. 


The Langley Target Development Cell provides commanders target materials in support of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE deliberate airstrikes. Capt Kevin Beaty, chief, Langley TDC, briefed the Secretary on the history of deliberate targeting in Operation INHERENT RESOLVE and the critical role Langley TDC fills by bridging the gap between intelligence and target prosecution.  This is accomplished through the coordinated efforts of the team's total force integration Airmen - active duty, Air National Guard, Air Reserve Component, Air Force civilian and contract force - with the greater Department of Defense mission partners.


The Secretary was also briefed on the intricacies of developing deliberate targets against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, made her aware of the many successes achieved through the efforts of the Langley TDC.


“We are definitely working as part of a larger team,” said 2nd Lt. Raul Aragon, 250th Intelligence Squadron, New Mexico Air National Guard. “We coordinate with NSA for signals intelligence analysis, the DCGS for our full motion video, and 25th Air Force to help facilitate human intelligence collection. We don't build all the different puzzle pieces, but we are the lucky ones who get to figure out how they all fit together and why they are important. It's really rewarding for the TDC team when we see it all come together and see one of our nominated targets get struck."


At the conclusion of her visit, Wilson offered her sincere thanks and congratulations to the Airmen in the TDC for those successes and commended the team for their hard work.


Wilson is the 24th Secretary of the Air Force and is responsible for organizing, training and equipping and providing for the welfare of 660,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian forces as well as their families. She oversees the Air Force’s annual budget of more than $132 billion and directs strategy and policy development, risk management, weapons acquisition, technology investments and human resource management across a global enterprise.