|Air Force Intelligence Plays Key Role in OEF|
Air Force Intelligence Plays Key Role in OEF
By Capt. Sean McKenna, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs.
Operation Enduring Freedom -- (AFPN) April 26, 2002 -- Making people more intelligent is a full-time job for the six-person intelligence office from the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.
Tech. Sgt. Jeff Koziczkowski, from the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing intelligence section, looks at a map of Southwest Asia. Koziczkowski is one of six members in his office, all of whom are deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, from the 115th Fighter Wing of the Wisconsin Air National Guard.
Photo by Capt. Sean McKenna
They provide classified and unclassified information to commanders and airmen to help make key decisions in the fight against terrorism.
"We are trusted to be the commander’s warning board so that he can determine the proper course of action," said Lt. Col. Ed Polachek, chief of intelligence for the largest expeditionary wing supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. "We need to make sure the information we give is accurate and factual at all times."
Dealing in the murky world of top-secret information is not something taken lightly, Polachek said. It requires checking and rechecking facts to make sure they are current and reliable because there are many curveballs thrown on any given day.
Polachek’s operation is not anything like the intelligence gathering of old, where agents often stumbled and bumbled through a scattered and unreliable information minefield.
Today’s intelligence world moves at breakneck speed with information coming in from a sundry of government agencies via secure computer networks, he said. Polachek’s office breaks down a mountain of daily data and turns it into usable and understandable chunks for operational commanders to digest.
"Intel plays an integral part in the planning cycle," said Polachek, a 36-year military veteran with 26 years in intelligence. "We’re one of many players who help figure out how we can safely carry out flying missions and protect our troops on the ground and at the base."
Polachek and the rest of his crew deployed here in March from the 115th Fighter Wing of the Wisconsin Air National Guard in Madison. They are no strangers to the Middle East, having previously deployed together to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Turkey. With the benefit of working and deploying together regularly, the team took little time getting acquainted with their surroundings, Polachek said.
"Every intel member needs to be organized," he said. "How you store things, how you research things -- those are all important parts of the job. You have to be inquisitive, go beyond the obvious answer and ask why that piece of information is important to the bigger picture."
Besides being eyes and ears for the commander, the intel office here also works hard to get information out to all airmen in the wing. They have made it a priority to visit units around base and brief airmen on the history behind Operation Enduring Freedom, including the structure of al Qaeda forces and makeup of regional factions.