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Grissom's intelligence unit named best in Air Force Reserve

Senior Airman Jared Easton, 434th OSS intelligence apprentice, left, and Senior Master Sgt. Rafael Leyva, 434th OSS intelligence specialist, practice intelligence analysis skills at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind., March 26, 2014. The 434th OSS intelligence office was recently named the Air Force Reserve's Outstanding OSS Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Unit of the Year for 2013.

GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Indiana — Intelligence workers stationed at Grissom Air Reserve Base recently were named some of the best in the country by the U.S. Air Force for facilitating the capture of 90 insurgents and eliminating 20 enemy forces.

The 434th Operations Support Squadron intelligence office, or intel shop, was named the Air Force Reserve’s Outstanding OSS Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Unit of the Year for 2013.

Tech. Sgt. Douglas Hays, who works in the public affairs office at the base, said the 14 intelligence officers working in the Grissom unit won the title out of at least 50 other operation support squadrons in the Air Force Reserves.

“Intel works in the shadows,” he said. “They’re not in the limelight too often, so it’s always great when they get recognized.”

The intelligence officers in the unit keep reservists with the 434th Air Refueling Wing, which conducts refueling missions around the world, posted about any potential dangers before and during military operations, said Senior Airman Waleed Kishta, 434th OSS intelligence apprentice.

“Before Airmen deploy, they come to us, and we are their eyes, their ears, their classified Google and their Wikipedia to that area they’re going to,” she said. “When you have this Airman who never left America and he’s going into a combat zone, you want to make sure you give him accurate information so that he can come home safe to his country, family and loved ones.”

Last year, that meant conducting 560 intelligence briefings for reservists heading into combat, which supported the offload of 110 million pounds of fuel to aircraft supporting more than 120 troops in contact with enemy forces. That fuel also supported 100 special operations forces and 200 strikes.

“Our biggest impact is our support to the deployers as we provide threat analysis,” said Lt. Col. Gregory Schultz, 434th OSS senior intelligence officer. “No matter what you do out there, there’s always a risk, and we try to keep them informed of those risks.”

Hays said intelligence workers use public and military sources to discover potential dangers Airman may face, and keep them notified before and during missions.

Hays said the 434th Operations Support Squadron intelligence office is now eligible to be named the best intelligence unit in the entire Air Force.

The unit was also given the award for their work facilitating nuclear missions and local operations.

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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