By 2nd Lt. Ryan Hester
Det 2 C Co 1-224th AVNS&S
The Vermont Army National Guard’s Security and Support (S&S) aviation unit spent the warm spring days of May traveling around the state to practice their skills in new locations. On one of these missions, the unit inserted two soldiers into a remote location to independently set up and operate communications equipment known as tactical video downlink (TAC-V).
Training with the TAC-V equipment maximizes the effectiveness of the unit’s reconnaissance capabilities by enabling the quick transmission and recording of an objective. With this data obtained by the air crew with the support of soldiers like Sgt. Lily Eastman and Spc. Colby Johnson, commanders can make decisions with the most up to date information possible.
S&S Aircrews flew Eastman and Johnson into Landing Zone Birch with their equipment to initiate the setup. The TAC-V is a video and audio receiver that requires setting up a 10 foot tall antenna on a tripod in order to receive the signal from the helicopter. This antenna is then connected to an analog and digital display screen and recorded on a computer, so that operators may reference it at a later time. Setting up the TAC-V is only part of the mission. Once ready to receive video and audio, Eastman established communication with the aircrew to ensure proper reconnaissance of the objective. Once they completed the recon mission, Eastman and Johnson disassembled and packed away the downlink system and waited for extraction by the aircraft.
This type of training allows S&S to conduct joint operations with partner agencies such as law enforcement and rescue services to provide them with a real time visual of an objective. Information like this provides the partner organizations with the information they need to create the best possible plan of action to safely resolve incidents.
S&S has the best available equipment to ensure mission success. However, even the best equipment is only as effective as those operating it. This unit is a diverse team of motivated and professional individuals who train regularly in multiple fields of practice to ensure constant mission readiness. Eastman’s typically works in the unit as a motor section sergeant and Johnson serves in aircraft maintenance. Even though these are their jobs, their primary role is to ensure unit readiness, which is done by taking the initiative and going above and beyond their assigned tasks. Soldiers like them make the 1-224th AVN S&S detachment a cohesive and successful team.