Secret Soldiers Keep Pilots Alive in Iraq
Pfc. Nichelle Sauls, an intelligence analyst from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade monitors a computer in the brigade security section Jan. 20. Sauls is part of a group of Soldiers and airmen who provide security and weather information to pilots from Multi-National Division-Baghdad.

CAMP TAJI, Iraq (Army News Service, Jan. 22, 2007) - Soldiers in the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade's security section never talk about their daily adventures or how they help save the lives of fellow Soldiers in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Virtually everything they do is a secret.

The Soldiers - along with a small team of Air Force weather personnel - give 1st Cavalry Division pilots a three-dimensional picture of the battle space to include the threat, terrain and weather.

"This is without a doubt the most volatile sector in Iraq," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Levar Wilson, the brigade's assistant security officer.

Just as movie stars need consultants to keep them from making bad career choices, pilots need security Soldiers to advise them on everything from the enemy situation, hiding places for insurgents on the ground and bad weather.

"The number one thing we have to think about is the lives of the pilots," said Sgt. 1st Class Richard Nunnally, brigade security noncommissioned officer. "We give them a clear and concise picture of what the threat looks like on the ground so they can be aware of that threat."

How these security consultants gather that information is, well, a secret, but it is as vital to the aviation mission as the aircraft the pilots fly in.

"We paint the most accurate picture of what the enemy is doing on the ground as it relates to the aviation-specific mission here, because everything that happens on the ground has an equal effect in the air," said Wilson.

That metaphorical picture includes some actual pictures from the terrain team.

"We study the terrain, but more commonly we provide cartographic overlays on maps," said Staff Sgt. Randall Marks, noncommissioned officer in charge of the terrain team. "The threat boundaries can change a couple of times a week or monthly. There is no set pattern."

The brigade security troops provide intelligence to the battalion security sections as well, where the threat situation is briefed to pilots as part of each and every mission.

"We are the conduits between the battalions, the higher headquarters and even lateral headquarters within Iraq," Nunnally said.

Intelligence from the Baghdad area is also pertinent to aviators from other multinational divisions and even Multinational Corps-Iraq, who have to fly into the Baghdad air space, Wilson explained.

The security mission is non-stop, and there is no down time. It encompasses intelligence for missions, operational security and personal security.

"It's 24-7," Wilson said. "As long as we are flying, there's always a fight. We can't let up. We don't know when the insurgents go to sleep."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16