By Adrienne MoudyNovember 22, 2011
An international electronic warfare and information operations association awarded the XVIII Airborne Corps Electronic Warfare Cell, Information Operations Cell (G7) and Space Support Element awarded the Association of Old Crows Outstanding Army Unit award at the 48th Annual AOC International EW Symposium and Convention on November 14th.
The AOC an international not-for-profit that supports the knowledge exchange in the fields of electronic warfare and information operations, gave the award at the convention's Celebration of Excellence award ceremony in front of EW and IO community leaders.
The XVIII Airborne Corps EW Cell, IO Cell (G7) and Space Support Element were chosen among several units who submitted nomination packages for review. Colonel Jim Ekvall, Chief of the HQDA EW Division selected the award recipient.
Army Major Jeff Prokopowicz and Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Gene McFalls accepted the award on behalf of the deployed unit.
The XVIII Airborne Corps EW Cell, assumed responsibility last January in Iraq. The unit consisted of Soldiers, Airmen as well as Sailors. In the past year the unit has successfully built a team of subject matter experts with a long term vision to attack, protect and support the EW and IO environment within the electromagnetic spectrum.
The unit made numerous contributions while supporting Operation New Dawn, including increasing the training and manning levels for the Iraqi Joint Operations Area.
"Reaching out to the host nation with spectrum operations was the best part of the job," said Prokopowicz. "The Iraqis are very new to this and were not operating with specific international doctrine, so we worked with them to get them updated doctrine."
Training the forces was an integral contribution for the overall safety of both U.S. and Afghan forces.
"Force protection was a top goal to make sure that Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen had the equipment they needed to stay safe during Operation New Dawn," said McFalls.
In January when the unit arrived the training and manning levels within IJOA was at 38 percent, by the time the unit completed its mission last month levels were at 90 percent.
"We basically went from crawling to running we completely skipped walking," said McFalls.
Aside from the contributions to the training and manning levels within IJOA, the unit made additional contributions while serving in Iraq, including updating the Duke V2 to V3 system upgrade. Over 250 systems have been completed since January. The unit updated the operational awareness for unit counter radio-controlled improvised explosive device EW operations as well as drafted new policy.
CREW systems also received Universal Test Set Fielding which sped up the CREW inspections which typically would take 20 minutes, which now only take 20 seconds.
"The leadership within the United States Army was great, if they knew of any issues within the electromagnetic spectrum they came to us," said McFalls. "The Army leadership realizes tactically and strategically what electronic warfare can do for them."
All of these accomplishments made the unit stand out amongst the other units that submitted nomination packets and thus were selected for this award.
"The contributions that the XVIII Airborne Corps EW Cell, IO Cell (G7) and Space Support Element made to Operation New Dawn deserved to be recognized by the Association of Old Crows," said EW Division Chief Colonel Ekvall. "This unit served an important role during the past year in Iraq, many lives were saved and programs were improved due to their diligent work. I was happy to select this unit for the AOC Army Outstanding Unit award."
The unit now has the privilege of receiving an award from the AOC.
"Being a part of this unit was a great opportunity to see a lot come together within the mission, people and the leadership," said Prokopowicz. "It was an honor to be a part of the XVIII Airborne Corps Electronic Warfare Cell."