USAF’s 655th group becomes AFRC’s first ISR wing

31 October 2018 (Last Updated October 31st, 2018 10:16)

The 655th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group (ISRG) has been activated as the US Air Force Reserve Command’s (AFRC) first ISR wing during a ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (AFB).

USAF’s 655th group becomes AFRC’s first ISR wing
Example of an ISR system, which includes unmanned aircraft systems such as the USAF’s Global Hawk. Credit: USAF / Bobbi Zapka.

The 655th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group (ISRG) has been activated as the US Air Force Reserve Command’s (AFRC) first ISR wing during a ceremony at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (AFB).

Headquartered at Robins AFB in Georgia, the AFRC continues to expand its ISR capacity owing to the rising national security needs for ISR capabilities following the 9/11 attacks on 11 September 2001.

To date, the command has created a number of units to provide a complete range of ISR capabilities to the US Air Force (USAF) and the Department of Defense.

The AFRC created an ISR group comprising intelligence squadrons to carry out the duties of a wing until September 2013, when a ‘high-structure wing’ was created and activated.

With 38 personnel, the group started off as a detachment working inside facilities provided by the 445th Airlift Wing and was later activated with the addition of five subordinate squadrons.

AFRC Headquarters ISR director and 655th ISRG first commander colonel Douglas A Drakeley said: “Knowledge is power, and American warfighters deserve to know what is transpiring on the battlefield.

“The new wing will help significantly increase the 655th ISRG’s ability to provide the ISR surge capacity the active duty requires.”

“We need to build that knowledge and situational awareness for our combatant commanders in the joint force.

“We fight as a joint team, so our capabilities become part of that joint team. We provide them with the information to be effective.”

According to Drakeley, the new wing will help significantly increase the 655th ISRG’s ability to provide the ISR surge capacity the active duty requires when operations tempos reach beyond their current capabilities.

Drakeley said: “When we started, we were struggling because it was a new capability that the reserve hadn’t experienced yet.

“But we continued to advocate for it [wing status] because it’s important; it’s the way the active duty is structured. It would have been challenging to integrate with our current active-duty partners if we didn’t have a similar structure and capability.”

The 655th ISR Wing includes two groups, the 655th ISRG and the 755th ISRG at the Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia, in addition to 14 other squadrons from seven operating locations engaged in ten distinct mission sets.