Guarding Us

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Within hours of each other, two C-130s and its crews took off for two separate missions using much of the same technology.

The 40 guardsmen headed to Iraq have known about the scheduled trip for several months, while those on the plane headed to the SE US volunteered their time and service within the last few days.

General Cindy Kirkland, the Adjutant General for the Nevada Guard, says this is what they do best.

"We are a dual-mission force and this whole deployment today just demonstrates that so clearly. We're headed to the Gulf to support the national efforts, but we're also headed to the SE to help the humanitarian efforts down there, recovery from the hurricane."

But, it's the scathe-view technology, the only one of its kind in the air force, that will be used on both trips.

The camera can "see" at night and during the day, relaying live pictures of what's happening on the ground: it's use can be life-saving whether it's in the desert or in the flooded neighborhoods of New Orleans.

"The scathe-view system has just proven to be so invaluable. In theater, they'll be assisting in protecting our troops on the ground: identifying where the bad guys are, where the potential threats are on the ground... In Katrina, they'll be down there providing input to all of the folks: FEMA, local authorities, everyone down there who's trying to get a real good picture of what the real impact is."

Master Sgt. Tregg Jackson, who is on his way to the hurricane disaster areas, says the scathe-view equipment will provide a way to see from above to help those on the ground.

"It's similar to what you might see on cops when you see their infra-red cameras chasing people. We have a similar capability with some direct downlinks to guys on the ground."

Before the guardsmen left for Maxwell Air Force Base, in Alabama, they were warned about what they were about to experience.

General Kirkland says the disaster could be worse than the war zone.

"The Nevada Air and Army National Guard were some of the first national guard forces on the ground, other than the local national guard."