Army

February 22, 2013

FH-trained tracker Airmen protect Bagram

Tags:
Staff Sgt. David Dobrydney
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Tech. Sgt. John Dolbee (left) and Staff Sgt. Ben DeSantiago connect a power source to a ground sensor for an enemy movement and detection training scenario Feb. 14 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The team uses a series of search techniques from simple, eyes-on to ground sensors to track insurgent activity and provide site exploitation after an attack. Dolbee and DeSantiago are 755th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Reaper team trackers.

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — A group of Airmen from the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron is combining the old-school skills of tracking with modern technology to bring a new capability to the fight.

“It stemmed from a lot of research in preparation for our deployment,” said Staff Sgt. Benjamin DeSantiago, a 455th ESFS Reaper team tracker. “We thought instead of just simply conducting routine base defense … why not actually attempt to find the insurgents right on the spot.”

DeSantiago credits his team’s officer-in-charge, 1st Lt. Joshua Loomis, with gaining approval from leadership for the team to learn the necessary skills. The three-man team would eventually arrive at the tactical tracking operation school on Fort Huachuca, Ariz.

“We informed the president of the school of our mission and told him what our needs were in preparation for our deployment,” DeSantiago said, “[and] he tailored the school solely around air base defense to help us out.”

When the Airmen first arrived for training, they did indeed think there were going to be playing cowboys.

“We thought we would end up putting our ears to the ground and listening to the winds for signs of our quarry,” DeSantiago recalled.
However, the primitive was soon merged with the modern.

“[The instructor] taught us the proper emplacement of unattended ground sensors,” DeSantiago said. “By using these sensors and emplacing them in areas of interest we can focus our patrols.”

By the time of their arrival on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, the tracker Airmen were ready to put their skills to the test.

“Whenever there is an attack, we act as a quick response force,” DeSantiago said. “We are always on call. We go out with the responding team and assess where the insurgents came from and where they went to by tracking the ground spoor [indicators of a human presence], aerial spoor and any ground sign left behind.”

While trackers can be found in the Army, they are rarer in the Air Force, a fact these Airmen are proud of.

“The instructor informed us that there were only a handful of us in the Air Force that he pushed through his course as certified U.S. Army trackers,” DeSantiago said.

On the other hand, having a special mission can bring its own set of challenges.

“There are only three of us certified and our capabilities are unique and new, especially to the base defense mission,” DeSantiago said. “So we are learning a lot and improving daily.”

However, those who would seek to do harm should beware. The trackers recently completed their first mission, investigating a specific area for insurgent activity.

“We reconned [surveyed] the whole area … looking for vehicle tracks, footprints, trash left behind, so we could limit the search to a specific focus,” Loomis said.

Having identified multiple trails that could be used by insurgents, the trackers placed their sensors and will augment them with cameras if the sensors yield results.

Loomis added that the trackers are training other security forces Airmen to expand the number of teams that can go out on future missions.
“We have plans in place to utilize this skill set,” Loomis said. “We’re pretty excited.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Tanja Linton

Intelligence Senior Leader Conference maps out ‘way ahead’

Tanja Linton U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence Commander Maj. Gen. Robert Ashley opened the Intelligence Senior Leaders Conference at the Intelligence System Integration Laboratory Dec. 10. Senior intelligence leaders...
 
 

Army toughens rules on enlisted fraternization

Office romance provides interesting water-cooler gossip in the civilian world and an endless source of material for television sitcoms. However, in the military it can potentially compromise good order and discipline. Consequently, the Army has decided to toughen the rules on fraternization once again. While intimate or romantic relationships have been prohibited between enlisted and...
 
 

CWFC designed to improve employee morale

There’s an organization on post designed to enhance the quality of life for Fort Huachuca federal Civilian employees during and outside of duty hours. The Civilian Welfare Fund Council, or CWFC, Fort Huachuca, is a Category IV Non-appropriated Fund Instrumentality with proceeds from concessionaire commissions. Its purpose is to manage the Civilian Welfare Funds, or...
 

 
U.S. Army

Military Intelligence – Moment in MI history

Operation Just Cause has its 25th anniversary At 1 a.m. on Dec. 20, 1989, roughly 13,000 American troops under the operational command of the XVIII Airborne Corps airlifted into Panama to join the 13,000 Soldiers and Marines al...
 
 

ACS offers scholarships, resiliency training

AER provides scholarships Army Emergency Relief maintains two scholarship programs — the Spouse Education Assistance Program and the Maj. Gen. James Ursano Scholarship Program for dependent children. Both scholarships provide financial assistance for students who are pursuing their first undergraduate degree. Scholarship applications will be accepted from Jan. 2 to May 1 each year for...
 
 

FH Exchange shoppers save with price matching

Whether shopping in stores or online, Soldiers, retirees and their Families get the lowest price at the Fort Huachuca Exchange. In fact, shoppers who price matched at Army & Air Force Exchange Service locations worldwide saved $6.4 million in 2013. At brick-and-mortar locations, price differences of $10 or less are matched on the spot —...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin