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Team Kadena’s Intel, Recon squadrons outsmart COVID-19

Members work inside an office.

Members assigned to the 82nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron perform daily tasks while adhering to COVID-19 protection measures July 8, 2020, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. By enacting and adapting to these measures quickly, members were able to devote themselves to mission success. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Sutton)

An RC-135V/W Rivet Joint takes off.

An RC-135V/W Rivet Joint assigned to the 82nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron speeds toward takeoff May 12, 2020, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The 82nd ERS is responsible for collecting intelligence by detecting, identifying and geolocating signals throughout the electromagnetic spectrum, while using the RC-135V/W on-board suite. The mission aircrew then forwards gathered information in a variety of formats to a wide range of consumers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Sutton)

An RC-135V/W Rivet Joint takes off.

An RC-135V/W Rivet Joint assigned to the 82nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron takes off May 12, 2020, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The 82nd ERS is responsible for supporting theater and national level consumers with near real time on-scene intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Sutton)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan --

The COVID-19 pandemic has birthed many obstacles, but the ingenuity and fighting spirits of Team Kadena’s 82nd Reconnaissance and 390th Intelligence Squadrons have persevered against the virus with new policies and an unfaltering operations tempo. 

The powerhouse duo hustled right at the beginning of the pandemic and worked to accomplish their vital mission and persistently protect their Airmen from harm by enacting several health safety measures throughout their squadrons.  

"Our squadron has adapted to the new normal by changing the way we operate," said Lt. Col. John Jewell, 82nd RS commander. "We’ve broken the Airmen up into teams, enforced social distancing and communicated electronically to keep in touch, among other things."

By enacting and adapting to these measures quickly, members were able to devote themselves to a top priority…mission success.

"Our mission is to collect intelligence to give to U.S. INDO-PACOM leaders, so they can make informed decisions on how to continue protecting this area of responsibility," said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Dandrea-Garcia, 390th IS production manager. "We’re a key intelligence producer in this area, so it’s imperative we continue our mission and not slow down. We can’t let ourselves falter."

These changes had to work in tandem with the intelligence mission supporting theater and national level consumers with near real-time on-scene intelligence collection, analysis and dissemination capabilities.

They accomplished this by detecting, identifying and geolocating signals throughout the electromagnetic spectrum, while using the RC-135V/W on-board suite. The mission crew then forwards gathered information in a variety of formats to a wide range of consumers.

Maintaining this high level of readiness and flexibility may be difficult for some, but Lt. Col. Jarrod Knapp, 390th IS commander, feels his Airmen only gained more resolve as time went by.

"We weren’t really able to take a knee," Knapp said. "The key fact is we have not stopped operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve prevailed despite the virus."

Many members hope that operations can return to normal as soon as possible but stand ready to accomplish their mission no matter the circumstances.  

"I hope that we can open things up to normal operating procedures," Dandrea-Garcia said. "If that’s not possible, then we’ll just stay here and keep on going as long as it takes."