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Airmen recognized for thwarting adversary attack

Three U.S. Air Force Airmen with the 497th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group were recently presented with achievement medals at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, for providing timely and critical information that saved the lives of 100 personnel. Senior Airmen Benjamin, Sean and Carlos, along with their team of fellow analysts, provided a detailed intelligence assessment that showed 50 enemy fighters planning an attack on a U.S. Central Command Forward Operating Base that housed both U.S. personnel and local forces. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Alexx Pons)

Three U.S. Air Force Airmen with the 497th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group were recently presented with achievement medals at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, for providing timely and critical information that saved the lives of 100 personnel. Senior Airmen Benjamin, Sean and Carlos, along with their team of fellow analysts, provided a detailed intelligence assessment that showed 50 enemy fighters planning an attack on a U.S. Central Command Forward Operating Base that housed both U.S. personnel and local forces. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration by Alexx Pons)

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. -- One of the keys to a successful combat operation is combining intelligence reporting with mission operations planning and execution. The 497th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group here, recently recognized three Airmen with achievement medals for providing timely and critical information that effectively saved the lives of 100 personnel.

Senior Airman Benjamin was conducting intelligence analysis when he uncovered a report of a potential attack. He reported this to his shift lead, Senior Airman Sean, and then immediately began compiling a report to provide leadership with a detailed intelligence assessment.

This report showed 50 enemy fighters planning an attack on a U.S. Central Command Forward Operating Base that housed both U.S. personnel and local forces.

“The fact that we were able to gather the intel needed to formulate a ‘big picture’ in the time we were able was to some extent luck,” Benjamin said. “We were very fortunate to have people with the right knowledge and skills to do the right amount of research in the appropriate areas to rapidly put everything together.” 

Responding immediately to this threat, Sean tasked his team of analysts to conduct further research and provide more detailed intelligence. Senior Airman Carlos led this team and satisfied the request, providing adversary intentions.

Sean delivered the report to the Combined Air Operations Center, which was not aware of the severity and complexity of the imminent attack. The report informed the task force and put them on alert hours before the attack. 

“At the time, I did not think, I just reacted to the information initially collected,” said Sean. “We had something critical that needed to be disseminated, and we did our best to do so. Credit goes to the team and the people here who came together to protect lives, which I feel was the biggest part of this mission. Again, we could not have done what we did without this team.”

The CAOC sent five air assets to intercept the enemy threat, resulting in the destruction of one vehicle born improvised explosive device, two improvised assault vehicles, and 82 enemies killed. The FOB repelled the attack and the lives of 100 personnel were saved.

Sean expressed feeling appreciative to have been a part of that mission and witnessing first-hand the impact the ISR group has.

“It is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had so far in my military service,” said Carlos. “To obtain information, and be able to provide what we do and offer protection to help stop a major attack is beyond rewarding.”

While only three were recognized, multiple team members played a role in ensuring critical information landed in the hands of key decision makers, fulfilling the group’s motto of ‘Providing the right intel to the right person at the right time’.

“I think this specific scenario was an excellent example of how we really should be operating on a day-to-day basis as far as how we integrate internally, and how we communicate with mission partners,” said Benjamin.