By Heike HasenauerNovember 26, 2008
In July, 40 Colorado Army National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 1st Space Brigade's 117th Space Battalion monitored computer images, uploaded data and reviewed map printouts as they prepared for crowds expected for the August Democratic National Convention in Denver.
Another group of Soldiers from the unit, who were part of Joint Task Force-National Democratic Convention, stood up months earlier, donned riot gear at a military-operations-in-urbanized terrain site at nearby Fort Carson, Colo., and practiced for the unit's more traditional National Guard role: maintaining civil order.
"If there are demonstrations, these National Guard Soldiers will have to protect people and businesses from protests that could get out of hand," battalion commander Lt. Col. Don Laucirica said.
If there had been an incident involving thousands of people at the 45,000-person-capacity Invesco Field in Denver, the civil-disturbance training could have helped quell it, said Maj. Tod Fenner, who'd been designated team leader for the Army space support team tasked to support JTF-DNC.
"In our space mission, we couldn't get a satellite on short notice to 'eye' a demonstration and give us real-time images," Laucirica said. "But we could provide imagery of the area that we have in our existing databases; computer applications allow the "space Soldiers" to access the existing imagery and create three-dimensional views."
If the Soldiers had to extract someone by helicopter, "we could provide flight routes, so the pilot would know what buildings he'd have to maneuver around," Laucirica said.
"Our Soldiers in the 'turtle suits' (protective gear) will have a very different mission from those performing the space-operations role," he continued. "It's very much as it is in Iraq; we could have a team at Central Command headquarters in Florida and a team in Iraq to support Soldiers who have very different needs."