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Shoguns train with NVGs to see through the night

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Christopher A. Marasky
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs
Two new courses will essentially give selected Kadena Airmen the ability to see in the dark.

The 18th Aerospace Medicine Squadron physiological training flight will train Airmen who maintain and inspect aircrew flight equipment and 18th Security Forces members in the proper use of night-vision devices.

Night-vision devices work in near total darkness by capturing ambient light reflecting off objects in the scene being viewed, and then amplify that very weak light.

While NVG's allow for Airmen to see in near total darkness, the equipment has restrictions that Airmen need to be trained on, said Lt. Col. Norm West, Pacific Air Forces surgeon general aerospace physiology consultant.

"Night vision goggles greatly enhance the warfighter's ability to see in low light conditions but do not provide perfect vision," he said. "The team here has developed specialized training to maximize performance, enhance risk recognition and reduce hazards during night operations."

Capt. Alejandro Ramos, 18th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, is the director of the aerospace physiology Night Imaging and Threat Evaluation lab and lead NVG instructor.

"I'm responsible for developing curriculum and maintaining an NVG cadre that will deliver quality training," he said. "Our instructors are graduates of the Air Force NVG Academic Instructor Course located at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas."

Both courses cover vision in the night environment, NVG technology, NVG assessment and focusing, NVG operating environment, and each course ends with a demonstration in the Night Imaging and Threat Evaluation Lab.

During the training, students practice focus and adjustment procedures for the equipment and receive demonstrations of various visible and infrared light sources. Such lights include chemical lights, infrared markers, finger lights and even a TV remote control.

The idea to create the classes arose from interviews of young Airmen who recently returned from deployments by the 18th AMDS human performance training teams, which look for ways to optimize night-time mission performance.

"During a visit, we asked a young Airman who recently returned from a deployment about NVG operations. He told us that he couldn't 'see' anything and was better off not using them," said Captain Ramos. "When we showed him how to use the NVG it was like the lights came on, so-to-speak."

Providing that knowledge to Kadena's Airmen is the largest benefit of these classes, said Captain Ramos.

"Night vision goggles don't turn night into day and they certainly have limitations," he said. "It's important for anyone involved in NVG operations to understand the pros and cons of this sensor so the Air Force can continue to own the night."

Twenty four Airmen graduated from the new courses in April, and the instructors plan to train another 40 students this month.

As the training program continues to evolve, Captain Ramos and his team are still looking for more information to improve the classes, and encourage anyone with information or experiences with NVG's to contact them.