FORT SMITH, Ark. - The Arkansas Air National Guard's 188th Wing activated its Unclassified Processing, Assessment and Dissemination (UPAD) capability in response to Hurricane Florence on Thursday, providing imagery, geospatial and assessment support to incident commanders in affected areas.
The 188th Wing's UPAD allows Airmen to rapidly analyze imagery from a variety of platforms, including satellites as well as manned or unmanned aircraft, and distribute tailored reports to meet mission requirements. It can also produce pre-incident imagery products, graphical overlays, and post-incident damage assessment products.
"Disaster response is what we train for," said 188th Wing Commander Col. Robert Kinney. "This is why America has a National Guard: To save lives at home, to fight our nation's wars, and to build partnerships at home and abroad."
Because UPAD capabilities are provided to state and local authorities are produced remotely, 188th Wing Airmen are not required to be in the areas affected by the storm, freeing up local resources needed for responders on the ground. Kinney said that the wing will activate approximately 15 Airmen for the next three weeks, or as long as they are needed.
The 188th Wing's UPAD is one of 12 such sites across Air National Guard intelligence units and was the first to volunteer in response to the storm.
"The skills that our analysts use to support troops on the battlefield are the same skills used responding to Florence today," said Capt. Lonnie Nicholson, Unclassified Processing, Assessment, and Dissemination officer in charge. "We've hit the ground running and are already pushing out products to support North Carolina."
The UPAD previously activated in response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria in September 2017. 188th Airmen supplied more than 2000 information products including damage and debris assessments, evacuation route assessments, lines of communication assessments, vantage point assessments for air traffic control teams, and flood potential assessments. Those responses were in addition to the mission performed here every day accomplishing national military objectives around the globe.