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News > Airmen provide Sailors with real-time video for maritime operations
Airmen provide Sailors with real-time video for maritime operations

Posted 11/27/2012   Updated 11/27/2012 Email story   Print story


by Capt. Jennifer Richard
U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs

11/27/2012 - SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Editor's Note: Actual locations and specific details of the types of aircraft and ships involved were withheld for operational security.

A U.S. Navy information systems technician aboard a U.S. Navy ship looked down at the laptop in his hands on a recent October day and saw something unheard of for Sailors just months before--live video feed from an Air Force Remotely Piloted Aircraft flying in the skies above the ship in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

Right next to the Sailor, talking him through the process and coordinating with the pilots remotely operating the aircraft, sat U.S. Air Force Capt. Jennifer Hollock, an Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Liaison Officer assigned to the N2 at U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.

U.S. Naval Forces Central Command gained the ability to use U.S. Air Force Remotely Piloted Aircraft full motion video feed for the first time beginning in January 2012, due in large part to help from Air Force ISR Liaison Officers like Hollock working side-by-side with NAVCENT Sailors.

Full motion video from U.S. Air Force RPAs is widely used by U.S. servicemembers operating on land in operations in Afghanistan, but until recently Navy ships did not access the RPA footage in support of large-scale maritime operations.

"With the lessons learned overland, as the drawdowns--especially in Iraq--became realities, servicemembers from both the Air Force and the Navy realized that Air Force RPAs could be a great help to the maritime problem set," said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Brent Marquand, Chief of Collections, N2, NAVCENT.

Acquiring the technology to receive the data was only a small part of being able to use Air Force full motion video. The Navy needed to train Sailors how to make the most of RPA full motion-video, from trouble-shooting the technology to establishing checklists to communicating directly with the RPA pilots.

That is where Hollock comes in.

"I work as a liaison among commands to coordinate ISR support," said Hollock, who helps Sailors over e-mail, phone calls and visits out to the ships. "I'm trying to use some of the lessons learned from the Air Force to help the Navy build its capabilities."

For Hollock, who deployed from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., working in a joint environment during her deployment has given her a new appreciation for Air Force operations.

"It's been eye-opening for me to be on the user-end of Air Force ISR," said Hollock. "Working with our Navy customers has given me a different perspective. It's been a great experience."

From a Navy point of view, the Air Force ISR liaison serves a role similar to that of a translator. Based on her knowledge of Air Force ISR assets, Hollock works with her NAVCENT counterparts to produce information and tools Sailors can understand and use.

"Hollock and her predecessors in the Air Force ISR liaison position have established processes and procedures that make sense to both the Air Force distributed ground station personnel and to the Navy end-users," said Marquand. "The liaison position is a force multiplier, not only for NAVCENT and U.S. Air Forces Central Command, but also U.S. Central Command as a whole."

The opportunity to work so closely with Sailors has taught Hollock lessons about cooperating across military and cultural barriers that may exist between service branches.

"I would tell other Airmen: 'Continue communicating at every level, from Airman to Sailor. It's okay if at first you don't know what a Sailor is talking about, because the Sailor probably doesn't know what you're talking about either. If we continue to communicate openly and directly, we can work together to develop common tactics, techniques and procedures," said Hollock.

With NAVCENT Sailors and Airmen continuing to strengthen relationships and teamwork, the U.S. Navy continues leveraging Air Force capabilities in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

"The coordination between AFCENT tactical and NAVCENT tactical units has grown by leaps and bounds," said Marquand. "We are very comfortable with the invaluable services the U.S. Air Force provides."

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