JRTC and Green Flag East provide robust ISR training to prep 82nd BCT for deployment

Army Capt. Lacey Johnson, collection manger, 1st BCT, 82nd (left); Air Force 1st Lt. Kurtis Kuschel, JSTARS liaison officer; Air Force Master Sgt. Ronnie Carter, JFIIT JSTARS subject matter expert; and Army Maj. Typhanie Montemayor, senior military intelligence company training mentor, JRTC discuss the BCT’s collection plan during JRTC rotation 09-06.  (Photo: Casey Bain, JFIIT, USJFCOM)

Army Capt. Lacey Johnson, collection manger, 1st BCT, 82nd (left); Air Force 1st Lt. Kurtis Kuschel, JSTARS liaison officer; Air Force Master Sgt. Ronnie Carter, JFIIT JSTARS subject matter expert; and Army Maj. Typhanie Montemayor, senior military intelligence company training mentor, JRTC discuss the BCT’s collection plan during JRTC rotation 09-06. (Photo: Casey Bain, JFIIT, USJFCOM)

FT. POLK, LA. -- The Army's Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) and the Air Force's Green Flag East (GFE) integrated the largest number of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets to participate in a training rotation here to help hone the warfighting skills of the 1st Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 82nd Airborne Division from Ft. Bragg, N.C. during the unit's mission rehearsal exercise as it prepares for a deployment later this year.

"This training rotation enabled 1st BCT to leverage an unprecedented number of live ISR platforms that will help prepare them for the challenges that lie ahead," said Air Force Lt. Col. Rhude Cherry III, commander, GFE and 548th Combat Training Squadron, Ft. Polk, La. "The ISR team assembled here facilitated the BCT's ability to practice with the assets that they will have in theater that will help the ground commander to deliver both lethal and non-lethal effects on the battlefield."

ISR assets that participated in JRTC rotation 09-06 included: E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS), RC-135 Rivet Joint, E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), A-10 Thunderbolt close air support (CAS) aircraft flying a non-traditional ISR role, and a Cessna aircraft outfitted with the equipment to replicate a MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial system.

U.S. Joint Forces Command's (USJFCOM) Joint Fires Integration and Interoperability Team (JFIIT) assisted the Operations Group at JRTC and GFE to enhance the joint ISR training of the BCT.

"JRTC and GFE have done an incredible job of planning and providing ISR assets to replicate the operational environment of Iraq - this initiative has significantly improved the training for the entire joint fires team," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Chris Olson, JFIIT lead at JRTC. "Our job is to help integrate those assets and bridge the gaps between the services so they can enhance their combat effectiveness while reducing the potential of fratricide and collateral damage."

"Our mission is to ensure that the BCT's military intelligence company is well integrated with the brigade's S2 (intelligence section) and collection manager to ensure synchronization of joint collection assets to assist the BCT's targeting cycle and process," said Army Maj. Typhanie Montemayor, senior training mentor, military intelligence company, JRTC. "Many people don't fully understand what joint assets can bring to the fight - they really don't receive that level of knowledge until they come here to train."

This enhanced integrated training between Air Force ISR platforms and the 1st BCT is essential to the success of the entire warfighting team, according to ISR leaders participating in this exercise.

"It's all about helping the BCT learn how to integrate the capabilities of joint ISR assets before they deploy," said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jenny McGlown, 1st BCT ISR liaison non-commissioned officer, 70th Mission Support Group, Ft. Meade, Md. "It's very much a two-way street. My mission is to help educate the BCT about the ISR capabilities that are available and how to best use those platforms that they will see when they are deployed, and at the same time, learn how the brigade plans and synchronizes their ground operations by using the actionable intelligence information that we help provide."

"Integrating with the Army and Green Flag forces here will help prepare us for success as we move forward as a joint team," said Air Force 1st Lt. Burley Malbrough, E-3 weapons officer and AWACS liaison officer (LNO), 960th Airborne Air Control Squadron (AACS), Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. "The opportunity to practice a non-traditional air-to-ground role for our AWACS crews is a unique opportunity that we want to maximize to the fullest extent possible."

The JSTARS aircraft is one of several unique ISR assets supporting this rotation that the 1st BCT, 82nd Airborne Division will experience while in theater.

"JSTARS is a perfect example of what can be accomplished when we work together as a joint team," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Clint Bridenstine, airborne target surveillance supervisor, 138th Military Intelligence Detachment, Robins Air Force Base, Ga. "During live missions, I fly in the back of a JSTARS aircraft to help provide near-real time intelligence information and enhance the BCT's situational awareness (SA) by way of the Common Ground Station (CGS). My goal is to show the BCT what JSTARS can provide so they can take advantage of its capabilities as soon as they arrive in country. Without question, the CGS and its crew located at the BCT is the critical link that can greatly enhance the maneuver forces SA on the battlefield by receiving and using what JSTARS can provide."

The JSTARS LNO at JRTC agreed. "We can help the brigade commander see the entire battlefield without committing precious resources or putting forces in harms- way," said Air Force 1st Lt. Kurtis Kuschel, air weapons officers and JSTARS LNO, 16th Airborne Command and Control Squadron, Robins Air Force Base, Ga. "We provide another tool the ground commander can use to accomplish the mission - we all benefit by being able to work so closely together before we deploy."

JRTC and GFE use a variety of joint assets to provide a realistic, rigorous, and stressful training environment that replicates the irregular warfare conditions found in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We can't assume that units know what to expect from the variety of ISR assets they will have access to or what kind of products those assets can provide the BCT once in theater," added Montemayor. "We want to help teach them how to fuse those products into a useful tool that will help the commander answer priority intelligence requirements - this joint training environment will help them achieve a level of understanding that will be crucial to their success."