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NATO Reaps Benefits from Joint STARS
Joint STARS spent four days sharing their hands-on knowledge of ground
surveillance capabilities with NATO representatives from 16 countries.
By Amanda Creel / 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga., Oct. 11, 2006 – Joint STARS spent four days sharing their hands-on knowledge of ground surveillance capabilities with NATO representatives from 16 countries.

The Alliance Ground Surveillance Conference was held Oct. 3-6 at the Robins Conference Center.

“From the Joint STARS, we just hope they gain more knowledge from the things we have encountered and endured as a Joint STAR system,” said Maj. Roger “Charlie” Brown, host of the conference and a member of the 116th Air Control Wing. “We hope they can take the knowledge base from us and build on it.”

Ground surveillance systems have two main objectives: first to detect moving objects on the surface of the earth, and second to identify those objects, said Wing Commander Michael Palmer, chairman of NATO’s  Alliance Ground Surveillance Operation Users Group.

“AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) provides surveillance in the sky and this provides surveillance on the ground,” said Col. Michael Hain, a NATO representative from Germany.

The conference was an opportunity for the 70 representatives in attendance to bounce ideas back and forth and come up with a plan of action for implementing the new ground surveillance capabilities to the alliance.

“Our biggest goal is coming up with a clearly defined road map before the system is implemented,” Palmer said. “We don’t want to repeat their mistakes and we want to capitalize on the good things they’ve done.”

While at Robins, NATO representatives at the conference not only had the opportunity to discuss their own system with one another, but they also

had a chance to view the Joint STARS aircraft and receive briefings from members of the 116th Air Control Wing who work with the system.

“It makes the picture by far clearer. It gives you the touch and feel of it,” Hain said.

The Joint STARS are not the only ground surveillance program NATO is taking notes on and planning to learn from. The British Airborne Standoff Radar is also providing knowledge from their experiences.

Even though the equipment and the airframes used by the nations and NATO will be different, all the systems are going to be interoperable.

The Air Ground Surveillance is expected to come into service in 2012 and its arrival would relieve some demand on 116th Air Control Wing.

“We have a limited number of aircraft and a limited number of crews and support personnel,” Brown said. “It will just relieve some of the burden on the Joint STARS.”

“However, the U.S. will not be the only nation that will benefit from the Alliance Ground Surveillance,” Hain noted. “The smaller countries who can’t afford the capabilities will have access to them through NATO.”

The Air Ground Surveillance Operation Users Group is comprised of 23 countries who are working together to implement the ground surveillance capabilities.

Palmer said the main purpose of having the Alliance Ground Surveillance is to give NATO the freedom from relying on individual countries for the ability to call up a ground surveillance team when and where they need it.
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