WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Since standing up in 2012, the 655th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group has come a long way in its growth and continues to pave the way for future Air Force intelligence initiatives.
The 655th ISR Group is an independent group under 10th Air Force that ensures the training and readiness of Air Force Reserve Command intelligence squadrons engaged in multiple diverse and complex intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission sets.
Stood up Oct. 1, 2012 here at Wright-Patterson as Detachment 2, 10th Air Force, with just 38 people, the 655th ISR Group has grown from being a detachment and now consists of 14 classic associate unit intelligence squadrons spanning across seven states conducting 13 different missions with more than 1,000 people and an FY16 economic impact of $68 million among all 14 squadrons across the country.
The 655th supports Air Combat Command; Air Force Materiel Command; Air Force Special Operations Command; National Air and Space Intelligence Center; Defense Intelligence Agency; National Security Agency; and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency with classic associate intelligence squadrons embedded and working daily with their active duty counterparts to further the intelligence capabilities of the U.S. Air Force.
Col. John McKaye, 655th ISRG commander, said the unit has grown a lot since its activation, expanding from five squadrons to 14 today, with an emphasis on cyber intelligence.
“Cyber intelligence is a growing requirement for the nation to be able to both defend and be able to potentially determine the correct response to a threat in the cyber world,” said McKaye. “Our new squadrons will focus on intelligence to support the cyber world. Those squadrons will be helping to do that and that’s part of the whole investment that the nation is making in the cyber mission force.”
As an independent group, the 655th is a wing equivalent organization with more than 1,000 Citizen Airmen and civilians assigned. With the Group expanding, the next focus will be on meeting the requirements and timelines to become an ISR-Wing, according to McKaye.
“The overarching plan is to stand up an additional ISR Group on the east coast in FY19, currently planned to be located at Fort Meade, Maryland,” McKaye said. “This additional group would provide justification for an ISR Wing to be located at Wright-Patterson. It is unprecedented for one Group to organize, train and equip 14 squadrons and our ISR Group is larger than several Wings in AFRC,” said McKaye.
The 655th ISR Group is comprised of a group headquarters, 14 intelligence squadrons and an Intelligence Support Flight. Three squadrons are co-located with the Group: the 64th Intelligence Squadron, responsible for human intelligence collection and reporting; the 71st Intelligence Squadron, responsible geospatial and measurement and signatures intelligence analysis and production; and the 14th Intelligence Squadron, which provides intelligence supportability and ISR expertise in support of Air Force acquisitions.
Three squadrons are located at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia: the 42nd Intelligence Squadron, responsible for targeting intelligence; and the 63rd and 718th Intelligence Squadrons, responsible for multi-discipline Distributed Common Ground System ISR operations.
Beale AFB, California is home to two of the group’s squadrons, the 38th and 50th Intelligence Squadrons, both of which are responsible for multi-discipline DCGS ISR operations.
Offutt AFB, Nebraska is home to the 49th Intelligence Squadron, responsible for crypto linguistic intelligence support and a new targeting squadron. The 16th Intelligence Squadron conducts signals intelligence and an additional new squadron supports Cyber-Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and they are both located at Fort Meade. The 28th Intelligence Squadron is located at Hurlburt Field, Florida and is responsible for ISR support to Special Operations Forces. Finally, the newest squadron is located at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, and is also conducting Cyber ISR.
McKaye is proud of the men and women in his group and the results of their role in the Air Force Reserve that they bring to the table every day.
“The great thing about these jobs from a reserve standpoint is that most of these jobs are here in the United States at operations centers so our reservists can do their civilian job during the week then come to work on the weekend and work missions from here. In 12 out of our 14 squadrons, it is possible for us to do those types of activities from the U.S. on operations floors that are in the fight here. It’s a great role for reservists,” McKaye said.
McKaye said his Airmen make a difference with what they do for national defense. Information that his reservists have worked on has gone not only to combatant commanders, but to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, the Secretary of the Air Force and to the President himself.
“The intelligence products that our reservists have worked on have spanned that chain of command. It’s impressive when you start looking at the impact that these 1,000-plus Airmen have in being able to support national defense.”
Stacy Vaughn of the 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs office contributed to this story.