News: Eye in the sky helps keep soldiers safe
Story by Sgt. Ruth Pagan
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Look, up in the air! It’s a bird; it’s a plane, no it’s a big-white blimp looking thing!
Though it doesn’t have a menacing look to it, the persistence threat detection system is very dangerous to the enemy. It’s an obvious reminder that the soldiers in Kandahar City are being watched over.
“It’s an eye in the sky for our soldiers here to keep them safe,” said Joseph Heckler, the site manager for Camp Nathan Smith’s PTDS, a civilian contractor with Lockheed Martin.
“Our site is unique because we are sitting in the center of the city so we see a lot of high value targets,” said Christopher Lynch, a field engineer with Lockheed Martin.
PTDS has a variety of things it can be used for.
The PTDS can see if people are planting improvised explosive devices, it helps us gather information on patterns of life in the city and if a firefight does break out it can help us track down the bad guys, said Lt. Caitlyn Gallagher, brigade collections manager with 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
Military and civilian contractors work hand-in-hand to keep information flowing.
The PTDS system is monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by my crew, said Heckler.
“The PTDS guys are extremely on the ball with reporting everything they see, and giving us analysis on what they are getting through the feed,” Gallagher said.
The benefits of having the PTDS are invaluable.
“My biggest reward here was when I stopped a convoy from rolling onto an IED,” said Lynch. “Their first sergeant came and brought me a box of chocolate chip cookies, and then a couple of weeks ago they actually caught the guy who had planted that IED.”
Not only are soldiers lives saved but bad guys are caught, said Heckler.
“Everybody’s proud to work with the military, and we feel like we are contributing to the efforts here,” said Lynch.