ANG leadership and congressman view JSTARS up close and personal

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Roger Parsons
  • 116th ACW Public Affairs
Lt. Gen Harry Wyatt III, Air National Guard director, Maj. Gen. Jim Butterworth, Adjutant General of Georgia, and Congressman Austin Scott, viewed first-hand the capabilities of the JSTARS platform during a Dec. 5 orientation flight.

The group observed training scenarios at each battle station as Lt. Col. Thomas Grabowski, 116th Operations Support Squadron commander, briefed on the current capabilities of the weapon system as well as opportunities for future expansion of the platform.

"One of the things the Air Force is trying to do is decide how we move forward with the JSTARS capabilities," said Wyatt. "It seems everywhere you go, whatever conflict there is in the world, the first capability Combatant Commanders ask for is JSTARS."

Scott, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, indicated he wanted to make sure his colleagues in Washington understand how valuable JSTARS is.

"Any of the intelligence and surveillance platforms certainly bring a lot to the fight," said Scott. "That's what gives us a big advantage over our adversaries in battle. JSTARS gives us the capability of doing a lot of things that smaller platforms aren't, and we can add some additional equipment to do even more."

While looking at ways to use the aircraft for continuing operations in hotspots around the world, much discussion centered around possibilities for more domestic use of the JSTARS platform as well.

"As director of the Air National Guard, I'm interested in the capabilities this system brings to homeland defense and help with natural disasters," said Wyatt. "We may be bringing ground troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, but I think the demand for the JSTARS capability is not going to subside. I think if anything it's going to increase."

The flight was capped off with an unexpected, but welcome surprise, when the onboard phone rang with a message that a group of JSTARS Airmen were returning to Robins from a deployment in Southeast Asia.

Wyatt and the rest of the Georgia ANG leaders landed in time to greet the returning Airman and their families.