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718th IS Airman influences future of warfighter support

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --

The 718th Intelligence Squadron, assigned to the 655th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing, was requested to attend Trident Spectre 19 where it had the opportunity to engage in the development of innovative intelligence technology.

Held in May, Trident Spectre was initiated to “rapidly identify, validate, and assist with the transitioning of technologies to the operator, expediting procurement processes.”  It is an “invitation-only venue for special operations, intelligence, interagency, and law-enforcement personnel to test and evaluate emerging technologies.”  This annual event has been held for fifteen years.

“Trident Spectre is truly unique. It is not just about experimentation but more about operational experimentation,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Alec Mackenzie, former Naval Special Warfare Group 2, Support Activity 2 (NSWSA2) commanding officer.  “No other venue features tactically-oriented experimentation of intelligence and technology at this level for the Department of Defense and the Intelligence community.”

Senior Airman Gregory Sharpe, 718th IS geospatial intelligence analyst, was selected to attend the event because of his experience and expertise with Full Motion Video (FMV), Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance operations. He was the only total force integration representative and was one of two DGS-1 representatives there. Furthermore, the two DGS-1 subject matter experts were the only Air Forces members attending.

Inspired by the challenges he observes while working near-real time operations, his contributions focused on developing new technologies, a rare occurrence due to the nature of the weapons systems he works on. He believes this will truly impact the future of the warfighter’s capabilities. Sharpe was the FMV subject matter expert on a team that tested a program called Spectral-aided Wide Area Motion Imagery (SWAMI).

Mark Lucas, program manager for SWAMI at Air Force Research Lab’s Sensors Directorate said, “A key part of the FMV SME role in the SWAMI program is innovation. We essentially need guidance from this role on “how” the SWAMI technologies should be applied. We also need this role to effectively capture and communicate the efficiencies that could be realized by the enterprise if the technologies were implemented.”

“It was very empowering to be a part of such a dynamic and brilliant team,” Sharpe said.  “I felt a strong pressure to really think every step through, as if each and every DGS-1 analyst was looking over my shoulder. I simply wanted to make sure that the results of my efforts represented the best that DGS-1 could offer.”

The team worked hard to prove the SWAMI program will have a significant positive impact. During which he reviewed the lessons learned and made suggestions for developing tactics, techniques and procedures to address mission challenges. At the conclusion of the event, Sharpe briefed the systems’ capabilities to the distinguished guests of Trident Spectre 19.

“The vast quantity of fusion that DGS sites are capable of truly makes us a powerhouse within the IC community. Too often that is overlooked and underappreciated when compared to the high speed missions at other locations. However, being part of an inter-service exercise like Trident Spectre provided an avenue for those other services to see what we have to offer in an environment conducive to flushing out our strengths,” Sharpe said.

The Air Force Distributed Common Ground System is the Air Force’s primary intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) planning and direction, collection, processing and exploitation, analysis and dissemination weapon system.  The weapon system employs a global communications architecture that connects multiple intelligence platforms and sensors.

Airmen assigned to AF DCGS produce actionable intelligence from data collected by a variety of sensors on the U-2, RQ-4 Global Hawk, MQ-1 Predator, MQ-9 Reaper and other ISR platforms.