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News > Army, Air Force overhaul joint ISR training
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An MQ-9 Reaper takes off on a mission in Afghanistan. Members of the Air Force and Army ISR community recently met at McChord Air Force Base, Wash., to discuss ways to improve training and tactics.
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Army, Air Force overhaul joint ISR training

Posted 2/13/2009   Updated 2/13/2009 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Travis Edwards
Air Combat Command Public Affairs

2/13/2009 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (ACCNS) -- A key group of Army and Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance professionals met at McChord Air Force Base, Wash., in December for a working group to discuss what is needed to ensure America has the best ISR forces on the ground and in the air.

The two-day conference was one of two working groups that met in support of the general officer ISR roundtable, the first of which was held in March 2007. However, this particular meeting focused on the training of Army and Air Force personnel to determine what's available from each service to get the best joint picture in the air and on the ground.

"The focus of this working group was to improve on integrating inter-service training with a goal of enhanced mutual understanding of service ISR operations and training needs, ultimately improving combat effectiveness," said Cheri Tone, an Air Combat Command Directorate of Intelligence (A2) pre-deployment training analyst. "We needed to devote this working group to training to see what was available that could benefit us all."

The meeting in December highlighted that each service could improve on training the ISR information needs of their sister service.

An example, said Ms. Tone, is the improved operations when Air Force analysts have a proper ground perspective, which gives the team a higher chance of success. An additional fact she added is that many Soldiers are unaware of the full capabilities of Air Force ISR, and there are several ongoing efforts geared to changing that.

She added that the working group discussed several ways to accomplish this training, starting at tech school and continuing through mission qualification training and pre-deployment training. There are already several initiatives underway in these areas, and a couple of them will be briefed to the general officer ISR roundtable scheduled for mid-March in the Hampton Roads area.

At the December ISR working group, one of the most significant initiatives to enhance mutual understanding was the exchange of instructors to the services' intelligence schools. While not widely advertised, elements of this initiative are currently ongoing and are improving inter-service ISR training.

Another important program discussed at the working group was liaison exchange. The Air Force currently sends intelligence officers to deployed Army units to help them leverage Air Force ISR assets, and actions are being taken to place Soldiers at select Air force ISR units as well. The liaison acts as a translator to the commanders in the field and the Air Force ISR analysts.

If the current initiatives meet the approval of the general officer group, they can then move forward with implementation for both services, said Ms. Tone.

The first ISR Roundtable in 2007 led to the creation of a course called ISR TOPOFF, which is currently in high demand by deploying Army units.

"ISR TOPOFF has been extremely successful," said Arta Cavazos, ACC Directorate of Intelligence ISR integration analyst. "It has turned out to be the most requested pre-deployment training course in the [Army Force Generation] training cycle."

ISR TOPOFF is a home station mobile training course taught by Air Force and joint instructors, and managed by the Army Training and Doctrine Command for deploying Army units. The course informs Army Soldiers of valuable Air Force ISR capabilities available to them in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"By working together with the Army in these working groups, we can come up with opportunities to improve our relationship and communication, creating an unstoppable joint ISR force in theater," said Ms. Tone.

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