JSTARS provides ground assessment during joint hurricane exercise

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Regina Young
  • 116th Air Control Wing
The E-8C Joint STARS, relayed real-time geographic data to ground personnel to safely evacuate citizens during a simulated hurricane in the Vigilant Guard exercise in March.

Flying over the skies of South Carolina, JSTARS unique wide-area, all-weather, surface surveillance radar and on-board communication suiteĀ  allowed aircrew to immediately send damaged route, flooding, and bridge integrity information to Soldiers, and state and local authorities caused by simulated Hurricane Zephyr.

"This exercise provided a great opportunity to integrate and build partner relationships with the National Guard and civil authorities," said a 128th Airborne Command and Control Squadron mission crew commander.

Flown by members of the Georgia Air National Guard's 116th Air Control Wing, along with Soldiers from the 138th Military Intelligence Company, the exercise was the first-time JSTARS participated in Vigilant Guard directly helping the Defense to Civil Authorities agency.

"We have national guardsmen supporting many combatant commands across the globe as well as protecting the homeland here," said the mission crew commander. Our participation in Vigilant Guard allowed us to exercise our capabilities and find shortfalls and correct them so JSTARS can be used most effectively in both types of missions."

Vigilant Guard is a U.S. Northern Command and National Guard Bureau sponsored exercise designed to improve emergency coordination, response and recovery management with federal, regional, local, civilian and military partners.

"Joint STARS are the 'eyes' for the folks on the ground; they provide an interface with industry partners that is beneficial to the mission," said a deputy intelligence oversight officer with the Georgia National Guard.