UNDISCLOSED LOCATION, SOUTHEAST ASIA— In the ever-evolving landscape of technological warfare, the U.S. Air Force is empowering Airmen, leaders and units to find innovative ways to execute their missions. When that piece of technology improves unit communication, getting Airmen trained on it becomes a priority.
More than 30 security forces defenders trained on the Android Tactical Assault Kit (ATAK), a real-time command and control (C2) system to improve on base defense measures and communications.
The ATAK provides first responders real-time mapping of the area of operation, enabling immediate situational awareness during base emergencies.
“Our primary mission here is to defend the base,” said Senior Airman Isaac Chavez, a security forces squadron defender. “The live map gives us better situational awareness and allows us, as first responders, to be more effective when incidents happen. Also, with this improved communication we can function better as a force and respond as needed.”
Chavez, the main trainer on the system for his unit, uses the ATAK system at his home base, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, and says members during this first-ever Air Force Force Generation deployment were quick to adopt the newly introduced system.
“When you can save time at a deployed location it’s always a plus and understanding the system in one training session shows the simplicity of it,” Chavez said.
The system offers a faster and more efficient means of synchronization with the ability to digitally plot emergency scenes, replacing a method used for over six decades: hard-copy maps and two-way radios.
“The new capability is beneficial because it makes it easier for us to connect with one another rather than just being on radios,” said Senior Airman Kierra Bustamante, security forces squadron defender. “It also gives us visuals and paints the scene, making us understand what to expect.”
Other key capabilities of the systems are identifying friendly forces, establishing cordons, setting up routes, outlining breaches in real-time, taking photos and sharing them instantly with other patrols, and the ability to mount them on vehicles, forearms, or vests for hands-free usage.
As security forces personnel become more familiar with the system, defenders are looking for innovative ways to maintain readiness and posture for future AFFORGEN iterations.
“The main goal for us using this is to increase our defenses and stay more lethal with upgrades in the technology we have,” Chavez said. “This system gives us a better way to interconnect, respond to emergency situations and be prepared at any given notice and for the future.”