Intelligence: Rivet Joint Wizards in Iraq


January18, 2007: In Iraq, U.S. Air Force reconnaissance aircraft crews have found a way to predict where the terrorists, who plant roadside bombs, are coming from.

While the U.S. Army and Marines do most of the fighting in Iraq, the navy and air force have sent specialized units that are able to contribute. For example, the air force has surveillance aircraft, like the RC-135 Rivet Joint, that can collect a wide variety of electronic signals in an area, and analyze them quickly. The analysis effort is looking for patterns. The bomb teams leave signs electronically (cell phones, walkie-talkies) or visually (images captured on surveillance cameras). Using the right math and analytical tools (software and computers) and you can quickly discover where the bad guys are coming from, and have the ground troops promptly raid the location.

This kind of work is popular with the RC-135 crews (about thirty aircrew and techies), because they are getting a chance to do, in a combat zone, what they have long trained for. Moreover, it's relatively risk free, as the aircraft fly beyond the range of machine-gun or should fired anti-aircraft missiles. In addition, the most productive work is done during night missions, when the bad guys can't even see the RC-135's high above.




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