Wednesday, January 27, 2010

VAW 125 Provides Support for Operation Unified Response

Sailors assigned to the Tigertails of Carrier Early Warning (VAW) 125 prepare an E-2C Hawkeye for take off at the airfied at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay. VAW-125 is supporting Operation Unified Response by transporting humanitarian assistance and personnel to Haiti after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake near Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, 2010. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Baltz/Released)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zachary Harris

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- The "Tiger Tails" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 125 are conducting airspace management during Operation Unified Response operating out of U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Jan. 22.

VAW 125 is working to ensure airspace and mission safety over Port-au-Prince.

U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay holds a strategic location near Haiti and allows the VAW to conduct critical airspace management during the humanitarian assistance efforts in Haiti. Food, personnel and medical supplies arrive daily and the airspace over Haiti is crowded with aircraft from various agencies.

The crew of VAW-125 provides an information conduit for aircraft operating over Haiti, making the orchestration of humanitarian assistance more manageable.
"We maximize the efficiency of the efforts," said Cmdr. Wesley Bannister, commanding officer, VAW-125.

The squadron operates the E-2C Hawkeye, an aircraft designed for all-weather, carrier-based tactical battle management and airborne early warning. The Hawkeye acts as a communication link to provide the big picture of what's happening in the air and on the ground.
"The aircraft was designed to go up and provide the eyes and ears in the sky," said Lt. Cmdr. Kenyon Kellogg, VAW-125 personnel officer.

According to Bannister, the E-2C and its crew help maintain control of U.S. Navy helicopters moving relief supplies, including medicine and personnel. They also coordinate with personnel on the ground and aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) to direct air asset tasking.

Within 96 hours of being activated, the crew of VAW-125 had gone from their homeport in Norfolk, Va., to fully operational over Haiti, providing command and control of airborne assets as well as those on the ground. Bannister believes the entire effort has been a positive and successful undertaking.

"We have a long history with Haiti," he said. "We should do everything we can to help."