By Staff Sgt. Jessica Montaño, 55th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 29, 2020
Airman 1st Class Michael Anderson, 55th Intelligence Support Squadron signals analyst, looks over the shoulder of Staff Sgt. Trenton Piel, 55th Intelligence Support Squadron senior signals analyst, while he is completing a work order May 28, 2020 at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. (U.S. Air Force photo by Charles J. Haymond)
Across the globe, there have been significant changes to daily life since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With new protocols in place, the Department of Defense has directed continual operations, and Team Offutt is doing its part to ensure the mission never stops by still generating flights, preparing for deployments and conducting training.
The 55th Intelligence Support Squadron’s Electronic Intelligence Processing and Analysis Cell and Omaha Signals Analysis Laboratory, are continuously producing intelligence reports for national and theater commander requirements.
“The reports we make range from quick ‘what happened where’ type reports, to very complex and detailed explanations of how our competitors do certain things,” said Lt. Col. Jason Guyette, 55h Wing Operations Center director. “One of the things we make sure we're doing right is getting the right person what they need the way they need it, whether that is electronic crosshairs showing up on a weapons system, a breaking news update to the White House, or a monthly update to analysts working long-term programs.”
Reporting instructions have changed throughout the pandemic, with only mission-essential personnel reporting to the installation now to practice safe social distancing.
“We've only got a couple dozen people working in-place in the squadron who are routinely keeping the missions going,” said TSgt Eric Brueckner, 55th ISS. “The Air Force has put a lot of money and effort into new teleworking tools, so personnel are now able to put in critical thought and creativity at home to see what they can do from outside secure areas to support the mission in a way they were not able to before.”
The personnel of the 55th Operations Group are all part of a global presence of the RC-135 aircraft, both at home and in garrison.
“When our aircraft deploy, the forward base not only gets the aircraft and its crew members, but it also gets the support personnel deployed in place here who work around the clock to add combat power and national decision advantage to the already impressive operations the deployed team is doing,” said MSgt Eric Balli, 55th ISS.
This is not the first time Team Offutt has faced a hardship that directly affected operations.
“We’ve been limited in how much we’re able to do since the flood last year, so in a way, we were ahead of the curve in terms of thinking through how to continue the mission and do as much as we can even with limited space, personnel, and resources,” said TSgt Lane Baker, 55th ISS.
With continuous changes due to last year’s flood and this year’s pandemic, Team Offutt has still maintained resiliency.
“Being directly connected to not just the mission, but also with our deployed brothers and sisters definitely gives us a real sense of camaraderie, and being the first to know the impacts of our missions make a difference give us a real sense of accomplishment and pride,” said Capt. Ryan Matthews, 55th ISS.