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178th Airmen contribute to success of Patriot South

  • Published
  • By Airman Amber Mullen
  • 178th Wing

Eight Airmen with the 178th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group temporarily deployed to Camp Shelby, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on a mobile team in support of Patriot South, Feb. 13-15.

Patriot South is an Air National Guard led domestic operations exercise with participants from Army and Air Guard as well as civilian agencies from the local area. This is the first year Airmen from the 178th ISRG have participated in this exercise.

Nearly 1,000 personnel from local, state, and federal organizations came to Camp Shelby to participate in the exercise. The training provided personnel the opportunity to work together on domestic operations response for a stateside emergency situation or natural disaster.

“We came together to all work as one to train for emergency situations and natural disaster relief,” said Senior Master Sgt. Robert, the Incident Awareness and Assessment exercise planner for the Patriot South planning team.

 The operations exercise consisted of real world scenarios that closely resembled emergency incidents that have happened in the past year. By doing this, Airmen were able to practice and fine tune their skills that would be needed in an emergency situation.

 One of the training scenarios consisted of an earthquake registering a magnitude of 7.7 along the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ), with an epicenter near Luxora, Arkansas. The earthquake caused immense damage such as buildings collapsing or being severely damaged, ruptured gas and power lines causing fires, and broken bridges causing impassable roads. Airmen participating in the exercise were then tasked to respond to the scenario using their skills and previous training.

 The eight Airmen on the mobile team deployed to Camp Shelby coordinated with ten Airmen on a reach-back team in Ohio also supporting the exercise. The mobile team’s job was to set up a connection from nearby aircraft and sensors to collect imagery for decision makers and the reach-back team. The reach-back team’s job was to perform the processing assessment and dissemination that would give decision makers information to effectively and efficiently deploy resources to save lives, property, and mitigate suffering.

  “We were able to demonstrate that any intelligence analyst can generally be effective no matter their Air Force specialty code,” said Lt. Col. Audrey S. Kawanishi, the 178th Wing IAA coordinator. “This opens up the ability to truly expand the mission to a wing-focused program.”

The 178th ISRG’s main goal while participating in the exercise was to train new and additional personnel in mobile and reach-back team positions. This training allowed the teams to gain first-hand experience and knowledge for real world situations.

By doing these exercises, 178th Airmen are more prepared to handle emergency situations and disaster relief for the state of Ohio, said Holbert. Recently, Airmen were able to use their training from Patriot South to help aid with flooding in southern Ohio.

 During the exercise, the weather did not cooperate which inhibited aircraft being able to fly and collect imagery. Even with this setback, Airmen were still able to make a direct impact and showcase their skills.

 “Our reach-back team still made a positive impact with its analysis of critical infrastructure and other requests for information,” said Kawanishi. “Our mobile team was still able to train and show their effectiveness by working with the Rover and Dragoon systems to physically be able to receive a feed. Their positive work brought on invites from others for our people to go on annual training days to continue to work with them.”

 Through the domestic operations exercise Patriot South, the Airmen assigned to the 178th ISRG were able to gain valuable training, knowledge and skills while showcasing the 178th Wing’s capabilities. The Airmen were able to highlight the mission critical operations and constant readiness for disaster relief that the 178th Wing provides to the Air National Guard.