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Intel flight: on time, on target

HOLLOMAN AFB, NM -- Right along with natural disasters, space exploration and the ever rising cost of gas, the intelligence career field is often misunderstood. 

The 49th Operations Support Squadron Intelligence Flight at Holloman provides F-117A pilots, 49th Fighter Wing personnel and the commander both here and abroad, with the type, location and capabilities of enemy threats. 

Holloman's intelligence flight is made up of 63 personnel, making it the largest flight of its kind in Air Combat Command. 

It specializes in air defense analysis, which looks at how all threats talk to each other and determines how the disruption of one or a few of them can open doors to enemy territory, enabling effectively executed air strikes, said Maj. Michael Raynoha, 49 OSS Intelligence Flight commander. 

F-117A pilots rely on intelligence to successfully complete each mission. Intelligence specialists can provide information such as locations of enemy radars, pictures of the target area and recommendations on which type of weapon would be most effective.
The flight also provides the wing commander with up-to-date intelligence to keep him informed of activity which might threaten the wing's mission or the people under his command during daily, exercise and crisis operations. 

The major said flight members analyze data from many sources such as National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, U.S. Central Command Joint Intelligence Center as well as Air Force collection platforms like the Global Hawk and U-2 aircraft to provide wing leaders with a concise summary of enemy capabilities pertinent to Holloman and its mission. 

Their goal is to provide the world's most experienced stealth pilots with the world's most advanced intelligence analysis, he said. 

"It's pretty neat how we can shape, cancel or change the mission of the F-117A," said Senior Airman James Ellis, 49 OSS Intelligence Flight. "They're [the pilots and wing leadership] depending on us to get it right." 

With such important tasks, discretion is critical. 

"Throughout history, what one country knows about another country is kept secret," Major Raynoha said. "We don't want other countries to know what we know. The way to do that is to be very careful about the number of people who have access. Equally important, however, is ensuring we get the information out to those who need to know." 

He said more general threat information can be passed at reduced or even unclassified security levels, but most of the "good stuff" is protected by classification. 

"It's good to know we're trusted with important information even though we're young," said Airman 1st Class Dave Nye, 49 OSS Intelligence Flight. 

Before entering into the intelligence career field, Airmen are required to sign a nondisclosure agreement with the government stating they will protect classified information or face severe fines and even imprisonment. These agreements remain in effect even after separation from the military. 

So while gas prices and the solar system may still be a mystery, how and why the 49 OSS Intelligence Flight operates no longer has to be.