Over the past week, the 188th Wing at Ebbing Air National Guard Base in Fort Smith has taken part in aerial photograph analysis of the U.S. Virgin Islands following the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma.
While preparations were being made for today’s change-of-command ceremony at the Fort Smith Convention Center, 188th Wing personnel under incoming 188th Wing Commander Robert Kinney were also doing damage assessment of the U.S. territory.
In addition to military operations with MQ-9 Reapers overseas, the 188th Wing also fulfills these kinds of domestic duties through its analysis arm.
Since Tuesday, 10 personnel in the 188th Wing have supported what’s called UPAD operations, or "Unclassified Processing, Analysis, and Dissemination," to help with hurricane recovery efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Kinney noted in a recent interview.
“We in the Arkansas National Guard pride ourselves on being always ready and always there,” Lt. Sam Grounds, 188th Wing executive staff officer, explained in an email. “We have had 10 of our intelligence analysts working in support of hurricane relief efforts since last week.”
The UPAD system was delivered a week ago by the National Guard Bureau. It uses unclassified equipment, commercial software, and a commercial Internet service provider.
“Our analysts were first tasked with supporting Hurricane Harvey relief and assessment efforts in Texas, then were asked to look at Georgia as Hurricane Irma approached, and on Wednesday afternoon were asked to provide support in the Virgin Islands,” Grounds explained.
Ebbing also houses a Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Relief Bed-down System for this FEMA region. The “DRBS” isy an instant tent city with water purification and delivery systems, kitchens and latrines. It can be delivered on 10 semi-trailers or four C-17 cargo planes.