655th ISR Group deputy commander retires after 41 years of service

  • Published
  • By Capt. Weston Woodward
  • 655th ISR Wing Public Affairs

During the Dec. 5, 2020 unit training assembly, the 655th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing bid farewell to long-time member and current 655th ISR Group deputy commander, Lt. Col. Thomas Danas. Danas is retiring after more than 41 years of service; over 20 years enlisted and over 20 years as an officer.

Danas has held multiple positions within the enterprise since 2013 with both the 16th Intelligence Squadron and the 655th ISR Group. He enlisted into the Air Force in August 1979 as a security forces member.

Throughout his career, Danas held numerous operational, technical, analytical and leadership positions. While at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, he provided alarm response, flight security control and standardization and evaluation of Airmen supporting the 44th Missile Security Squadron and the Minuteman II Long-range Intercontinental Ballistic Missile systems.

In 1983, Danas retrained into the secure telecommunications and cryptographic equipment systems career field at Lackland AFB, Texas, and was then assigned to the 485th Engineering and Installations Group at Griffiss AFB, N.Y.

Danas was honorably discharged from active duty and entered into the Air Force Reserve in August 1985. He was assigned to the 6th Communications Squadron, MacDill AFB, Florida, a tenant of Headquarters U.S. Special Operations Command. Additionally, he and his team supported Headquarters U.S. Central Command and Sensitive Compartmented Information facilities base-wide, including communications security equipment. Some of his projects included mobile combat communication stations such as reinforced track vans that provided secure voice/comms capabilities to field units. As a team chief, Danas engineered and installed secure communications equipment at the Pentagon, GTE Corp, Scott AFB Communications Center and at Ellsworth AFB’s weapons storage area.

In 1999, then Master Sgt. Danas was recruited by Headquarters, U.S. Central Command, Reserve Management Directorate, MacDill AFB, Florida. On May 5, 2000, he was commissioned through the Air National Guard/U.S. Air Force Reserve Officer Direct Commissioning Program, Academy of Military Science, McGhee-Tyson ANG Base, Tennessee.

Upon his return to USCENTCOM, Lt Danas provided joint forces support from December 1999 to October 2011 under contingency operations such as the Global War on Terrorism, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was assigned to positions of increased responsibility and served as a Human Intelligence Collections Officer, Joint Intelligence Center Central, and successive assignment to Joint HUMINT Operations, J2X Division. His team stood up the Eastern Mediterranean Section which was annexed to the Joint Reserve Intelligence Center, Ft. Devens, Massachusetts.

Among the many mission essential tasks assigned, Lt. Col. Danas tracked sensitive site exploitation in support of the Secretary of Defense and Combatant Commander’s priority intelligence requirements. He also led support to a mission critical database management project. During his last assignment at USCENTCOM, his Ft. Devens Detainee Vetting Team, in partnership with the multi-national forces in Iraq and subsequently the Defense Intelligence Agency, performed quality control, management and analysis on thousands of detainee portfolios. Detainees that posed little to no threat to U.S. and coalition forces were released from internment and high-threat detainees remained incarcerated. Lt. Col. Danas’ team earned accolades from Headquarters USCENTCOM and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Once he arrived at Ft. Meade, Maryland in 2011, Danas and his team provided force support to Air Force and National Security Agency Signals Intelligence partners under the active duty 707th and 691st ISR Groups, 70th ISR Wing and 25th Numbered Air Force.

As the director of operations, he led the 16th IS Classic Associate Unit, a subordinate squadron under the 655th ISR Group and provided operational support to the 94th Intelligence Squadron, a 485-plus member active duty squadron within a 1,000-plus member group, including 85 reservists, employing precision Distributed Common Ground System intelligence weapon systems and overseeing the United States Air Force’s only expeditionary force protection Signals Intelligence threat analysis cell supporting three forward operating airbases.

Danas directed 24/7 real-time ISR collection operations for Operation Enduring Freedom, Combatant Commands and joint task force intelligence requirements. He also led the operational readiness of a low-density/high demand linguist pool, an Air Force Center of Excellence.

Lastly, from December 2018 until December 5, 2020, Lt. Col. Danas directed seven squadrons with seven distinct classic associate unit mission sets and 602 personnel including 506 traditional reservists, 56 active guard and reserve personnel, 40 air reserve technicians and two civilians while serving as the deputy commander for the 655th ISR Group. He executed AFRC’s complete ISR planning and operations strategy for squadrons attached to Air Combat Command, Air Force Materials Command and HQ Air Force A2 and A6. Lt. Col. Danas provided command and control and ensured training and readiness for the seven squadrons. Danas managed $64 million in direct and $20.3 million in indirect expenses, 138,000 square feet of operations space and provided oversight on seven Air Force weapons systems.

The men and women of the 655th ISR Group wish Lt. Col. Danas and his family the best and will miss him.

The 655th ISRW is an Independent Wing under the 10th Air Force, Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, Headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, consisting of two Groups and 14 Associate Unit intelligence squadrons across seven operating locations, conducting 10 specialized missions.  It is the most diverse ISR Wing in the United States Air Force, and the only ISR Wing in the USAF Reserve Command, providing every aspect of intelligence generation: acquisition, human, geographical, measurement and signal, targeting, cyber, support to special operations forces, linguistics and the Distributed Common Ground System