Airmen provide Sailors real-time video for maritime operations|
by Capt. Jennifer Richard
U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs
11/27/2012 - SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C (AFNS) -- Editor's Note: Actual locations and specific details of the types of aircraft and ships involved were withheld for operational security.
A Navy information systems technician aboard ship looked down at his laptop on a recent October day and saw something unheard of for Sailors just months before - a live video feed from an Air Force remotely piloted aircraft flying in the skies of the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
To talk the Sailor through the process with pilots operating the RPA sat Air Force Capt. Jennifer Hollock, an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance liaison officer assigned to N2, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command.
U.S. Naval Forces Central Command achieved use of RPA full motion video for the first time January 2012, due in large part to officers like Hollock working side-by-side with NAVCENT Sailors.
RPA full motion video is widely used by U.S. servicemembers operating on land in Afghanistan, but until recently Navy ships did not access it to support large-scale maritime operations.
Hollock helped change that.
"With the lessons learned overland and 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 video data was only a small part of being able to use the RPA video feed. The Navy needed to train Sailors to use the video information, trouble-shoot the technology and establish checklists for communicating directly with RPA pilots.
Hollock's expertise was invaluable to achieve this capability.
"I work as a liaison among commands to coordinate ISR support," said Hollock, who helps Sailors over e-mail, phone calls and visits to 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 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 to continue communicating at every level, from Airman to Sailor," recommends Hollock. "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, then we can work together to develop common tactics, techniques and procedures."
With NAVCENT Sailors and Airmen continuing to strengthen relationships and teamwork, the U.S. Navy continues to leverage Air Force capabilities in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
"The coordination between AFCENT and NAVCENT tactical units has grown by leaps and bounds," said Marquand. "We are very comfortable with invaluable services the U.S. Air Force provides."