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Space liaison officer trains US, coalition forces
Air Force Capt. Bryony Veater, Space Liaison Officer and Space Weapons Officer embedded with the 807th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron, looks at a Defense Advanced Global Positioning System Receiver Nov. 23, 2011 at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Over the past six months, Veater has been training U.S. and coalition forces how to best utilize space into ground warfare. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David Carbajal)
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Space liaison officer trains US, coalition forces

Posted 12/2/2011   Updated 12/2/2011 Email story   Print story

    


by Staff Sgt. David Carbajal
451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs


12/2/2011 - KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Satellite communications and GPSs are common battlefield tools for U.S. and coalition forces in today's global war on terrorism, but to be fully leveraged, service members must understand how best to exploit them. For this task, the Air Force employs space liaison officers, embedded with combat forces, to ensure space capabilities are brought directly to the front lines.

"My job is to teach the ground forces how to use space assets effectively in today's fight," said Capt. Bryony Veater, 807th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron.

Occasionally, these tools can be hindered by space weather and solar activity from the sun. To counter these unpredictable situations, the Air Force employs space liaison officers to train forces on how to effectively utilize these tools and to teach troops how to ensure these devices are as accurate as possible.

"People always assume space is going to work and space is going to be there," said Veater. "But when it doesn't work or when it's not being optimized correctly for a mission, I can step in to help."

"I can help them figure out ways to get service back or to optimize it for their mission," she said.

Veater is one of two SpaceLOs in Afghanistan and the first female to hold the position, she said. Veater is also a graduate of Weapons School, which helps her integrate aspects of air and space.

In her SpaceLO role, she troubleshoots the tools that ground troops use daily.

"Figuring out why a GPS isn't working; why a GPS isn't getting good accuracy and how to mitigate those effects; or how to plan a mission around those effects is a key part of my job," said Veater, who is deployed from the 2nd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. "I also help them know what some of the alternatives are and understand what some of the limitations and vulnerabilities of SATCOM."

During her six-month tenure here, she visited more than 15 locations in Regional Command South, Southwest and West training Soldiers, Airmen and Marines as well as Italians, Lithuanians, British, Australians, and Canadians on the tactical exploitation of space.

This task did not come without its fair share of challenges.

"Sometimes 'space' can be very technical, so we have to speak the knowledge of the audience," she said.

This task was increasingly difficult when she taught some coalition partners, who aren't fluent in English.

"It's a dual challenge with them because you have to make sure they're understanding the actual words as well as the space effects you're trying to explain to them," she said.

As a SpaceLO, she also held an important role in mission planning.

"I help provide them predictions on when they can expect certain communications systems to be working better than others," she said.

Forecasting these effects enables mission planners to bring backup forms of communication or to ensure the affected communication system isn't their primary one.

"When calling in precise locations, they need to know their GPS is accurate as it's supposed to be," said Veater, who is a Philadelphia native. "Especially, if they're calling in munitions."

In the future, Veater foresees an integrated SpaceLO program aiding operations worldwide.

"We hope to continue the SpaceLO program and continue to integrate space into the fight," she said. "We hope this capability can expand to other Combatant Commands and support their operations."



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