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Dec 12 2022

NATO intelligence collection unit conducts sustained surge operations

SIGONELLA, Italy – NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance Force (NAGSF) provided vital Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities to Allied decision makers during a surge week December 1 to 8, 2022.

NATO’s multinational ISR collection force employed its RQ-4D unpiloted aerial vehicles during four 24-hour missions. Pilots, Sensor Operators, and Intelligence Analysts controlled collection activities from the Mission Operation Support Centre located at the Main Operating Base in Sigonella, Italy; the Force conducted these flights on the Alliance’s eastern flank.

We are NATO’s elite ISR organization providing peerless decision advantage to the Alliance

“It is very rewarding being able to lead RQ-4D flying operations for these missions lasting over 24 hours spanning over a week of continuous operations,” said U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Pruitt, Commander of the NAGSF Flying Squadron. “The mission requires five different crew positions be manned continuously while in flight as well as pre-mission planning and post-mission debriefs. NAGSF’s multi-national professional aircrew are providing vital near real-time intelligence that is enhancing situational awareness on NATO’s eastern flank following Russia's invasion of Ukraine,” he added.

A NAGSF RQ-4D unpiloted aerial vehicle taxies at the Force's Main Operating Base at Sigonella, Italy. 
Archive photo by NAGSF.
Final approach for a NAGF RQ-4D returning from a collection flight in support NATO operations. 
Archive photo by NAGSF.
The data collected by the RQ-4D is being received and processed at the NAGSF Main Operating Base in Sigonella. Archive photo by NAGSF.
Surge operations represent a challenge to the NAGSF team who have to maintain and keep the RQ-4Ds operational. 
Archive photo by NAGSF.

“We are NATO’s elite ISR organization providing peerless decision advantage to the Alliance,” said NAGSF Commander, U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Andrew Clark. “After declaring initial operating capability, we increased our operational tempo faster than anticipated – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine being the primary factor – with well over 100 sorties flown and more than 11,000 intelligence products disseminated in just over 18 months,” General Clark added. 

NAGSF has achieved the second surge week in 2022 with an increased and sustained rate of mission execution. The team has met the challenges of maintaining the required manning levels, ensuring handing-over between missions and supporting a seamless information flow.

According to General Clark, NAGSF excels not only by collecting and distributing intelligence from their RQ-4D missions, but also – and more importantly – by processing and sharing so-called federated intelligence products received from other sources. The integration of these two processes makes NAGSF a crucial specialized unit within NATO’s ISR community.

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office

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