Defense

February 20, 2013

Tracker airmen protect Bagram

Tags:
SSgt. David Dobrydney
Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan

SSgt. Craig Ritter and 1st Lt. Joshua Loomis move into position to place ground sensors for an enemy movement and detection training scenario Feb. 14, 2013 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. Ritter and Loomis are 755th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Reaper team trackers.

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,” SSgt. Benjamin DeSantiago said, 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.

TSgt. John Dolbee, Staff Sgt. Ben De Santiago, 1st Lt. Joshua Loomis, and Staff Sgt. Craig Ritter emplace ground sensors for an enemy movement and detection training scenario Feb. 14, 2013 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. The tracker team members are all deployed from the 822nd Base Defense Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Dolbee, DeSantiago, Loomis and Ritter 755th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Reaper team trackers.

“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.”

Tech. Sgt. John Dolbee and Staff Sgt. Ben DeSantiago connect a power source to a ground sensor for an enemy movement and detection training scenario Feb. 14, 2013 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 755th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Reaper team trackers.

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

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

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.


 
 

 

Headlines October 17, 2014

News: Turkey OK’s American drones to fight ISIS - Turkey is now allowing the U.S. to launch unmanned aircraft to fly over Syria. But so far, traditional warplanes are out of the question. New Ingalls boss focusing on cost performance, agility - Brian Cuccias has been in the Gulf Coast shipbuilding business for 35 years, working for...
 
 

News Briefs October 17, 2014

AM General laying off 60 from Indiana factory A company spokesman says AM General is laying off about 60 workers from the northern Indiana factory where it builds military vehicles. Company spokesman Jeff Adams says the layoffs are being made because of production schedule changes at its Military Assembly Plant in Mishawaka. Adams tells the...
 
 
Image courtesy of NASA, J. Lotz, (STScI

NASA’s Hubble finds extremely distant galaxy through cosmic magnifying glass

Image courtesy of NASA, J. Lotz, (STScI The mammoth galaxy cluster Abell 2744 is so massive that its powerful gravity bends the light from galaxies far behind it, making these otherwise unseen background objects appear larger a...
 

 
Northrop Grumman photograph by Alan Radecki

Second Northrop Grumman-built Triton UAS completes first flight

Northrop Grumman photograph by Alan Radecki The second MQ-4C Triton, built by Northrop Grumman for the U.S. Navy, successfully completed its first flight Oct. 15 PALMDALE, Calif. – The U.S. Navy’s second MQ-4C Triton un...
 
 
NASA photograph

NASA TV to air Russian spacewalk from International Space Station

NASA photograph Expedition 41 Commander Max Suraev and Flight Engineer Alexander Samokutyaev of the Russian Federal Space Agency will don Orlan spacesuits and step outside the International Space Station Oct. 22, to perform wor...
 
 
Raytheon photograph

Poland’s PIT-RADWAR signs letter of intent with Raytheon

Raytheon photograph Mike Shaughnessy, Vice President of Supply Chain, Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems and Jerzy Milosz, Member of Board and Director of R&D, PIT-RADWAR sign a letter of intent to explore further partners...
 




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>