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May 26, 2013

181st Intelligence Wing plays vital role for Terre Haute, nation

TERRE HAUTE — While military jet aircraft no longer regularly fly overhead, the Indiana Air National Guard continues to play a vital role in both national security and its impact to the Terre Haute economy.

Planes have been replaced with data analysis through the 181st Intelligence Wing, based at the Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field. It’s a vital role as Indiana honors those in military service during the Memorial Day weekend.

Terre Haute now also includes the 81st Troop, which located to the airport in June 2012, part of an initiative to decentralize Indiana National Guard command and control in the event of an emergency in Indianapolis.

Economically, the Indiana National Guard at Terre Haute spent $3,471,776 of federal funds during the fiscal year of 2012. The State of Indiana spent $459,708 for the National Guard at Terre Haute, of which $228,800 was paid to personnel, according to the Indiana National Guard’s 2012 annual report, which includes activities from Oct. 1, 2011, to Sept. 30, 2012.

The 181st Intelligence Wing’s biggest role is in 24-hour, real-time intelligence to military combat personnel in three combat theaters, but primarily in Afghanistan. The 181st serves as the primary backup to U.S. Air Force active-duty core sites.

The Intelligence Wing was involved in 40 direct target strikes, with 44 priority enemy targets killed, according to the annual report. The Intelligence Wing also helped with the capture of 25 high-value targets, the report states.

The 181st performed real-time intelligence for 1,006 combat missions, said Maj. Frank Howard, wing executive officer.

“The ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance] vehicles that are flying in theater take imagery, video and collect signals. And, as they are doing that, our guys are doing analysis and exploitation of that information,” Howard explained.

The Intelligence Wing reports exploiting 25,494 images that led to 984 targets being engaged, according to the report, along with the location of 81 roadside bombs

About 350 members of the Intelligence Wing deployed, mobilized or supported combat operations. The 181st had 105 Operation Enduring Freedom combat sorties in Afghanistan, directly analyzing 550 flight hours. Flight analyzing helped locate 357 high-value individuals, the report stated.

The Intelligence Wing also performs over watch duty, monitoring a site to protect or scout a convoy or some other entity.

“One of the big things that we have out here is we have long-term persistent look at the theater of operation…,” Howard said. “We will have people who are potentially looking at the same area of responsibility for years.”

On the civilian level, a map overlay can be used to determine a flood or a fire. On the military level, “when things change and there is a power plant where things change, you will notice that. Or say there is construction that pops up, we will know that,” Howard said.

The report showed the 181st Intelligence Wing received 95 medals or badges, including two Bronze Star medals, 19 Air Force Meritorious Service Medals, two Hungarian Peacekeeping Commendation Medals and two German infantry badges.

The 181st also reported 1,723 community service hours. The Intelligence Wing’s first response teams conducted multiple exercises in preparation for man-made and natural disasters. The Medical Group conducted five exercises across two states, as well as Israel, to prepare to assist victims of disasters with medical care, the report states.

In addition, the Fatality Services Recovery Team participated in its first exercise, focusing on safe and effective search-and-extraction methods in a demolished building.

“Fighter jets are gone, but I honestly think that if you look at the statistics of what we are supporting and what we are doing on an everyday basis now, we are having a greater impact that we probably ever had when we had fighter [jets] here,” Howard said.

“Every day, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, we have analysts analyzing data, in real-time capability and long-term capabilities, to provide information to the ground commanders,” Howard said. “We also have skills that can be used for natural disasters” in the state.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@

tribstar.com.

 

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