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Inside Intel

Story ID 03-123
May 07, 2003

Air Force Space Command News Service
By 1st Lt. Julie A. Tucker
AFSPC Public Affairs

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - Locked away in a basement vault in HQ Air Force Space Command, the constant chatter of television news can be heard amidst the ringing phones and conversations on topics ranging from Afghanistan and Iraq to SARS. And while the offices are a bit dim, they are filled with bright people. Air Force Space Command intelligence professionals.

"Some people might think we're behind locked doors to make sure information stays in and people stay out," said Col. Lauri Cross, director, AFSPC intelligence. "That's really not it. Our job is to get as much information out as we can."

Active-duty, Reserve and civilians are working around the clock to ensure senior leadership is informed. Through the classified Internet [known as the Secure Internet Protocol Routing Network, or SIPRNET] interpreting data from field units, other intelligence agencies, personal connections and yes, TV, the intelligence community helps bring the enemy to the table.

"We're constantly looking at data, assessing it, then presenting it," said Capt. Julie Spears, of the current intelligence branch. "We gather information on the enemy to try and find out how they can hurt us and how to counter that and destroy it. Space plays an important role in our ability to do this because we can detect certain things with our ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance] assets which ultimately saves time, money, energy and lives."

From being asked by senior leaders to verify items reported on the news, working with ISR assets, giving briefings to leadership along with weekly "mass" briefings to anyone with the proper clearance, AFSPC intelligence is never for want of things to do.

"We also have a branch that does threat assessments for future systems that will be online some years down the road," said Capt. Don Baker, chief, current intelligence branch. "We provide cradle-to-grave intelligence support, meaning when it's only an idea in someone's mind we're on the process teams. Therefore, we can present potential threats to a system before it materializes and, to some extent, drive how systems are built."

While the intelligence community was keeping busy in peacetime, the day-to-day pace increased as intel officers left on deployments with the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In the weeks preceding the war, 24-hour operations were started and a Reserve plan was put in place to help supplement manning.

"It's a real team effort, and not just within the headquarters. We have great units throughout the command that we're constantly in contact with," noted Cross. "In fact, when OIF started up, our intel folks at SMC [Space and Missile System Center at Los Angeles AFB, Calif.] took on all our long-term matters so we could focus on current ops."

Operations in the space intelligence community might be difficult to grasp, but it becomes clearer when equated to the more widely known side of the Air Force -- planes.

"Space is not as widely understood as our flying force, although it's really similar from an intelligence point of view," said Baker. "In Air Combat Command, intelligence focuses on providing targeting information to aircrews who are doing tactical air-to-ground fighting. In Air Force Space Command, the focus is on detecting targets from space like ICBM, Scud and space vehicle launches.

"The information we provide helps the Defense Satellite Program satellite operators, for example, know where to look so they can point their sensors to the right place to get the right information. We help eliminate surprises, which helps focus our assets so they can get the best information."

The "mass" briefings also helps eliminate surprises. Given weekly, the intel community ensures that not just leadership and satellite operators know what's going on, but that everyone has a situational awareness.

"Especially in times of crisis, like after September 11, the war in Afghanistan, and most recently the war in Iraq, I found the mass briefings very helpful," said Master Sgt. Henry Carson, AFSPC Logistics and Communications Directorate sustainment manager. "They passed on a lot of good information that kept folks like me aware of what's going on."

The ability to procure that information and get it to the right people at the right time is what intel professionals call PBA, or Predictive Battlespace Awareness.

"I think the military is really starting to appreciate what intelligence brings to precision guidance and the incredible things space brings to the fight," said Spears. "But, it's more than technology that helps us out. It's being responsive, adaptive and creative that gives us a real advantage over everyone. You can't put a price on creativity and having the leadership that allows you to think outside the box."

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