More than one 100 intelligence analyst students work together, gathering and interpreting intelligence products by the thousands while instructors introduce training inputs.
At any given moment, decision makers could burst into the operations center demanding information and the recommended courses of action about an ongoing threat.
The students base their analysis on thousands of simulated signals and intelligence reports with fully integrated full-motion videos representing a common operating picture.
Their job – to effectively sift through the organized chaos, utilizing their technical and communication skills to make sense of it all during Operation Lonestar.
“Operation Lonestar is the capstone event for our four pipeline intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance courses,” said Capt. Steven Ishmael, 315th Training Squadron integrated operations exercise flight commander. “It’s an integrated environment for the all source intelligence analysts, the geospatial intelligence imagery analysts, targeting analysts and intelligence officers.”
This capstone course is the first time the 315th TRS’ four intelligence disciplines are challenged alongside each other in a mock intelligence operations center.
“When these intelligence disciplines come together, they build a piece of the puzzle,” said Staff Sgt. Bernard Humphreys III, 315th TRS integrated operations exercise instructor. “It builds the bigger picture and it’s up to them as analysts to figure out what’s important and why. They all have a responsibility to communicate based on what they’ve been trained.”
With the push for modernization, Operation Lonestar continuously adapts its educational channels, combating emerging threats.
“As real world adversary threats evolve, the scenarios equally evolve,” Humphreys said, who went through Operation Lonestar in 2011. “With that it could be either weapons systems, aircraft or an increased cyber threat.”
The Operation Lonestar capstone teaches the students necessary elements for a successful Air Force through two simulated scenarios, as identified in the National Defense Strategy.
One scenario focuses on major combat operations involving the four competitors identified in the National Defense Strategy.
The second scenario tasks students to defeat the network of a violent extremist organization through the use of counter-terrorism analytic techniques.
Additionally, as adversary tactics change, a team of 14 contractors help update this multi-disciplined learning environment, keeping the course realistically on par with operational deployments.
“Operation Lonestar has a distinct advantage,” said Staff Sgt. Howard Whitaker, 315th TRS integrated operations exercise instructor supervisor and GEOINT lead. “We have the flexibility to take any new or emerging threat that is happening operationally and ask our contractors to update the course.”
In line with Air Education and Training Command’s strategy of advancing force development, Operation Lonestar continuously updates and vigorously explores more facets of innovation.
“In the very near future, we will expand our multi-discipline approach, to include the 316th Training Squadron,” Ishmael said, who leads the team of nine instructors. “In the fall we are integrating the 1N2s, 1N3s, and 1N4s-electronic intelligence analysts, linguists and fusion analysts. Lonestar and Loneshark will have some integrated touchpoints.”