By SOF Editor on Tue, 12/29/2009 - 11:04am
The newest aircraft to the Air Force's inventory arrived Dec. 27, 2009, to Bagram Airfield. The MC-12 aircraft, tail number 090623, was the first of an undisclosed number of aircraft for the new 4th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron here.
Following the MC-12's arrival, the 4th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron was activated to carry out MC-12 operations in the Afghan theater of operations.
Col. Patrick McKenzie, the 455th Expeditionary Operations Group commander, presided over the brief ceremony attended by approximately one hundred Airmen and Soldiers.
"The MC-12 is much more than just a fleet of aircraft, its pilots and maintainers. It also consists of equipment and personnel that collect and broadcast full-motion video and signals intelligence, as well as crews that process, exploit and disseminate the information," Colonel McKenzie said. "In addition, the MC-12 encompasses a host of communications experts that support and maintain the added capability that the aircraft brings to the warfighter."
Taking the reins of the 4th ERS was Lt. Col. Douglas Lee, deployed from Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., and a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala.
"As a boy growing up in the Air Force, I could only imagine this day and for this opportunity to come along - [serving] in combat is why we raise our right hand to begin with," he said. "Knowledge is power and that is what we provide. This knowledge will help protect Afghans, provide security and protect Coalition lives. All of these things directly contribute to the combined effort that secures the battlespace and helps the Afghan people to defeat the insurgency."
As the demand for Air Force ISR increases assets, the MC-12 is positioned to meet that demand.
The first of its kind for the Air Force in Afghanistan, the MC-12 provides real-time ISR in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. The aircraft bring another capability to Operation Enduring Freedom because the MC-12 is not just an aircraft, but a complete collection, processing, analysis and dissemination system of Airmen committed to securing Afghanistan and protecting Afghan and coalition lives.
Eighteen months ago, 'Project Liberty' was on the drawing board. Today, the aircraft and its crews and maintainers supporting the 4th ERS are operational and ready to go at Bagram Airfield.
"We are not the first to provide ISR, but we hope to enhance the joint effort through synergy with our sister services," Colonel Lee said.
Overall, the MC-12 will augment information gathered by other ISR assets already operating in Afghanistan and complement existing capability. The platform will enhance how Air Force ISR complements the total intelligence 'picture' in the respective commander's scheme of maneuver in the battlespace.
With a unique mission to execute, members of the 4th ERS are eager to "look for trouble," as their squadron motto states, but hope to see it first so U.S. and coalition ground forces can avoid it.