Nevada Army Guard aviation unit set for deployment

Brig. General Michael Hanifan addresses the crowd and troops at Reno-Stead airport on Wednesday.

Brig. General Michael Hanifan addresses the crowd and troops at Reno-Stead airport on Wednesday.

RENO —The Nevada Air Guard’s 152nd Intelligence Squadron is preparing the Nevada Army Guard’s Detachment 45, Operational Support Airlift, for its upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. The squadron’s Airmen are sharing their expertise in imagery acquisition and analysis with the unit’s Soldiers during a joint, three-week training session before the detachment departs in June.

“This training allows us to share some of our expertise and experience with our fellow Nevada Guardsmen,” said Master Sgt. Jeffery Best, an imagery analyst with the 152nd Intelligence Squadron.

The squadron’s mission previously included the Scathe View platform, a package of sensors and cameras designed to be operated from C-130 Hercules aircraft. Multiple deployments utilizing the platform honed the Airmen’s skills for their subsequent role as trainers for Project Liberty. Project Liberty was a two-year program designed to increase intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities for Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

“We conducted the initial cadre training for Project Liberty,” Best said. “Once that program ended, we returned to our initial imagery analysis jobs. However, we retained all of our training experience.”

The Det. 45 Soldiers will conduct a mission similar to Project Liberty for the next nine months while flying King Air 300 aircraft in Afghanistan. About one dozen Nevada aviation Soldiers will combine with detachments from Alabama, Connecticut and Pennsylvania in Afghanistan to form one company.

“The King Air 300s are equipped with sensors and equipment that provide a overhead perspective of what is happening on the ground,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Glen Spadin, the Det. 45 commander. “Our mission is to support ground forces in action and look for targets of interest. We will be an eye-in-the-sky able to inform a commander what is going on in the vicinity and alert him to threats he can’t see from his perspective.”

The deploying Soldiers trained on the King Air 300 sensor packages for five weeks at Fort Hood, Texas, and then for one week at the Army National Guard fixed-wing training site in Bridgeport, W.Va., before beginning their joint training with the Airmen.

“The training to become an aerial electronic sensor operator is unique and not covered in any one military training course,” Spadin said. “The job entails a conglomeration of tasks from various occupations specifically combined for our specific mission.”

Det. 45 is set to support the Army’s Task Force ODIN (Observe, Detect, Identify and Neutralize) in Afghanistan on missions very similar to the Air Force’s Project Liberty sorties.

“The 152nd IS Airmen are expounding on the training the AESOs have already received,” Spadin said. “Our intent for these three weeks is to refine their skills so very little transitory training in theater is required.”

“We want to provide these guys with the best training we can so they are prepared for their mission,” Best said.

“The training the Air Guard has provided will help ensure our AESOs are proficient in their jobs,” Spadin said. “The 152nd has given us an edge and we appreciate their help.”


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