19 OSS, Offutt AFB Professional Development TDY> Little Rock Air Force Base> Display
Sixteen members of the 19th Operational Support Squadron recently completed a professional development trip to the Offutt Air Force Base unit where they had the opportunity to learn about a few sets of diverse missions within Air Combat Command. This is the view of one of these members, Senior Airman Tiearra Ashe.
“Talent wins matches, but teamwork and intelligence wins tournaments.” – Michael Jordan, National Basketball Association Hall of Fame Member.
I adopted this philosophy and mindset during a recent professional development opportunity – a 2-day squadron-sponsored visit to the 55th Combat Air Command Wing and the 557th Weather Wing located at Offutt AFB , Nebraska. This professional development opportunity has broadened my horizons in several different areas, including: professional performance as an intelligence analyst, cross-integration with several Air Force specialty codes, networking and, most importantly, training. discovering desired learning objectives focused on mission success and applying what I have learned to operations here in 19 Airlift Wing.
The 55 Wing’s mission statement is to “Provide Dominant Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Electronic Warfare, and Nuclear Command and Control to National Leaders and Fighters, Anytime, Anywhere.” During the trip to Offutt, I had the honor of studying a multitude of assets such as the RC-135 variants as well as their capabilities and contributions to Sensitive Reconnaissance Operations (SRO). The RC-135 is a reconnaissance and intelligence platform and each variant has unique capabilities. The three variants of the RC-135 include the RC-135V / W Rivet Joint, the RC-135S Cobra Ball, and the RC-135U Combat Sent. There are only three Cobra Ball planes in the world and I had the opportunity to visit one. Notably, the Cobra Ball’s distinctive black painted wing not only demonstrates the innovation of reflection on image detection, but it has become a staple in the intelligence community. An opportunity to see this asset first hand is rare, so in my opinion it was a once in a lifetime experience.
The Cobra Ball has extraordinary abilities just like the other variants of the RC-135, however, it is specially designed to track ballistic missile launches as well as to support electromagnetic intelligence efforts. While visiting the Cobra Ball, I was made aware of the unique capabilities at a classified level and the complexity of the integration methods used by the personnel operating each sensor. Each individual has unique abilities that one would expect to find in a science fiction movie or novel. In action, these surveillance and reconnaissance abilities become a well-tuned orchestra making a harmonious composition.
“Networking isn’t just about connecting people – it’s about connecting people with people, people with ideas and people with opportunities. – Michele Jennae, author of The Connectworker.
Offutt AFB is not only home to one of the US Air Force’s most strategically important cells, it is also home to the Department of Defense’s only weather wing. The 557th Weather Wing integrates high-fidelity weather data and knowledge for mission planning that supports combat and deterrence operations at the tactical and strategic levels. My main takeaway from our tour reflected the importance of mission planning and weather exploitation to mission success. This variable is critical when developing an Operational Environment Intelligence Readiness (IPOE) product.
Finally, through discussions with my intelligence counterparts in Offutt during this trip, I learned techniques that I was able to bring back and apply to my flight practices to further improve our near real-time IPOE efforts. In addition, I was able to network and exchange information with various intelligence analysts, which allowed me to expand my network and strengthen my analytical resources within my unit. Collaborating with various AFSCs during the trip broadened my knowledge of the dimensions and capabilities of the world’s largest air force.
Overall, this temporary mission trip to Offutt was an unforgettable experience. I am extremely grateful to have been invited and delighted to have had the opportunity to participate in a common environment. I also enjoyed knowing more about my 19 OSS Titans colleagues from different AFSCs like airfield management, weather, crew and air traffic control. Integration with the 55th and 557th Wings made me humble and reminded me that the combat environment is constantly changing. It’s easy to see subjects from the perspective of my own AFSC and function, but stepping out of my comfort zone and discovering different roles reminded me that we are all crucial pieces of a large, complex puzzle. This experience taught me the value of not only learning and representing my own craft, but also the ability to draw strengths and new perspectives from others.