Syracuse-based Air National Guard unit to play key role in development new computer command systems

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK (09/30/2022) (readMedia)-- The Syracuse-based New York National Guard Airmen who specialize in planning and directing air campaigns, will play a key role in Air Force efforts to develop new computer systems to make that planning process faster and more efficient.

Under an agreement with the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome --usually known as Rome Labs-- members of the 152nd Air Operations Group will provide information on how they do their jobs, and the kinds of information they need to the research team developing the new systems.

"We will work together in describing the process," explained Col. Kevin St. John, the commander of the 152nd. "This will be human-to-human initially."

"The next stage is for the scientists to gain access to our Battle Lab and understand how the various computer systems integrate," St. John added.

Based at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, the main mission of the 152nd is to provide Airmen to augment the Air Force's 603rd Air Operations Center at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

This is the center which controls Air Force operations across Europe and Africa.

His 130 officers and noncommissioned officers also have experience working in operations centers that support U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. Northern Command and U.S. Central Command as well, St. John said.

Members of the 152nd have been on duty at the 603rd Air Operations Center since the start of the war in Ukraine, assisting in NATO operations monitoring the conflict there.

The efforts by the Air Force Research Laboratory's Information Directorate will focus on using artificial intelligence and machine learning technology to speed up the information processing needed for command and control efforts by air war planners.

The goal, according to the lab, is to support Air Combat Command requests to harness cutting-edge computer technology to enable war planners to have a better picture of the battlefield and the actions they need to take.

To do, this, according to the computer experts, they need the input of St. John and his Airmen.

"This partnership captures the pillars of our continued dedication to enhance warfighter capabilities, expand available technical options, and deliver with impact," said Col. Fred Garcia, the commander of the information directorate.

Because Rome Labs is under an hour's drive away from the 152nds base in Syracuse, this will make the development process more effective, Garcia said.

"The proximity of our organizations will enable a fluid exchange of ideas and information that will deliver unparalleled advances to enable our Airmen to act more rapidly," he said.

For Airmen in his line of work, the computers they use are their "weapons system" just like a fighter pilots' plane or an infantryman's rifle, St. John said.

Having the latest and fastest software lets his team get inside the enemy's decision cycle and make better plans, he added.

The 152nd Airmen put together the plans used to strike enemy air defenses, airfields, and important command and control targets on the ground.

The goal, St. John said, is to develop systems which analyze data and provide the most relevant information used to plan these missions.

It's similar to the way the software used by Google, Amazon and other online retailers gives you the most relevant answer when you input the kinds of goods you are looking for, St. John explained.

The program cuts out the other items it could show you and shows you what you are most likely to want, he said.

While the proximity of Rome Labs to Hancock Field will make the development process easier, the 152nd was also picked to work with the technology folks because of the experience of the Airmen in the command, St. John said.

"No single organization can coordinate and synchronize this whole-of-Air Force required approach," said Dr. Mark H. Linderman, the chief scientist at the information directorate. "However, collectively we can develop and deliver high impact effects for refinement, replication and redistribution to our warfighters."