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492 SOW, Det. 1: small unit, vast impacts

  • Published
  • By By Ciara M Travis
  • 492 Special Operations Wing

Electromagnetic Warfare (EW).

Chances are, unless you’re somehow involved in the EW community, you’re not likely familiar with what EW is.

Previously known as ‘Electronic Warfare’, Electromagnetic Warfare is a military action in which forces use reception and transmission of electromagnetic energy to obtain mastery of the electromagnetic spectrum, while also preventing or degrading the same use by our adversaries.

At Robins Air Force Base, in Warner Robins, Georgia, there is a small but critically important detachment of the 492d Special Operations Wing that exists primarily to develop mission data. Detachment 1 was established in 1985 in order to develop, modify, test and maintain Mission Data for assigned Special Operations Forces and mobility air forces aircraft. Originally created as an active duty unit, it evolved over time to a civilian and contractor workforce thereby providing increased continuity and profound expertise. Since inception Det. 1 has fervently worked to produce essential mission data to enable AFSOC and AMC defensive systems.

Picture this: an MC-130H Combat Talon II is penetrating hostile enemy airspace and the aircrew are trusting their safety and mission success on onboard radar, ultraviolet, and infrared signals equipment to detect and defeat potential enemy threats such as surface to air missiles. This capability is EW and without mission data, it would not be possible.

Mission data enables our members the ability to sift through information and make informed decisions about how to react. This software is a compilation of countless pieces of information about the environment AFSOC aircrew will fly into. This ‘mission data,’ is needed in order to conduct EW, and ultimately provides Air Commandos the capability to perform high risk, high reward missions for our nation and our allies.

 “We all have a crucial part to play as we take the fight to the enemy,” said Col. Caleb Nimmo, 492 SOW commander. “Our 492 SOW Det. 1 members are working tirelessly to provide critical data to the EW mission. If you’re operating a piece of equipment that relates to electronic warfare, chances are its success is directly related to Det. 1. I am so incredibly proud of this unit’s daily accomplishments.”    

Though relatively unheard of, EW has played an important roll both historically as well as in contemporary military conflicts.

“Survival and mission success in the modern battlespace with peer- and near-peer adversaries is highly dependent upon effective [EW],” said Glenn Bledsoe, 492 SOW, Det. 1 chief engineer. “Effective EW is not possible without consistent assessment and update of our mission data profiles. Our capabilities must be agile enough to counter the pace of our opponent’s technology advancements and tactical adjustments.”

Bledsoe emphasized the importance of growth and innovation in EW.

“Our success relies entirely on adequate investments into our system hardware, software, mission data, as well as testing, aircrew training, tactics development, and maintenance,” said Bledsoe. “Neglecting any one of these elements reduces the effectiveness of EW. Our unit exists to produce EW mission data, aligning with AFSOC’s mission to ‘Provide our Nation’s Specialized Airpower. Without continual refreshing of EW mission data, AFSOC defensive system effectiveness would erode as our adversarial threats evolve. This ultimately would leave our aircraft and more importantly, aircrew members, vulnerable in the fast paced cat-and-mouse game of EW.”

“While this unit’s work is often unknown to the multitude of beneficiaries, its impacts are far and wide,” said Nimmo. “Behind every bit of data is a team of people ensuring our Air Commandos’ survivability is at its peak, proving once again that humans are more important than hardware.  What an awesome group of Quiet Professionals.”