181st officially converts from Fighter Wing to Intelligence Wing

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Chris Jennings
  • 181st Intelligence Wing Public Affairs
The181st Fighter Wing, Terre Haute, Ind., conducted a re-designation ceremony on 13 July, 2008 officially marking its transition from flying jets to processing intelligence and providing ground support to air operations at forward locations. 

The Indiana Air Guard unit stationed at Hulman Field Airport since 1954 is now officially the 181st Intelligence Wing. 

"As an Intelligence Wing, the 181st now has a vital mission using the latest and greatest in warfare," said Col. Jeffrey Hauser, wing commander. 

The ceremony was conducted in the hangar that just months ago housed the Wing's F-16 fighter jets. Airman stood at attention while the commanders of the Air Guard replaced the 'Fighter' Wing guidons with 'Intelligence' Wing guidons and installed new commanders. The brief ceremony allowed the Airman to witness the historic transition of the Wing. 

"This is an important part of transitioning a unit," said Col. Chris Colbert, wing vice commander. "It's important for us, the community and the state to let everyone know who we are and what we're doing. Our pride in being a Fighter Wing will carry over into being an Intelligence Wing and, as we've always done, we'll perform at the highest level in the Guard and Air Force." 

The 181st traces its roots back to 1921 when the unit was formed in Kokomo, Ind., with Curtiss JN-4D "Jenny" aircraft. Through the years, the unit's vigilance in combat readiness brought many aircraft changes, and the list of airplanes it's flown include: O-11, PT-1, O-38B, P-51, F-80, F-86, F-84, F-100, F-4, and F-16. 

"The 181st has a long tradition of embracing new technologies and upgrading equipment," Hauser said. "Our new role as an Intelligence Wing brings us two new missions--a Distributive Ground Station and an Air Support Operations Squadron. Both missions put the 181st Intelligence Wing on the cutting edge of technology and keep us relevant as the nation's war fighters." 

The Wing now adds the 181st Intelligence Group, 181st Intelligence Support Squadron, 181st Operations Support Squadron, 137th Intel Squadron, and the 113th Air Support Operations Squadron. Official designation authorizes use of the new Intelligence Wing patch, letterhead and signage. 

Accepting the new missions, 181st members have been looking toward the future of warfare and many are re-training for their new military professions or Air Force Specialty Codes. The new missions include a Distributive Ground Station (DGS), a digital imagery and surveillance unit directly involved in global missions from Hulman Field using the newest high-tech imagery equipment and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in deployed locations. The DGS translates the imagery to troops on the ground and aircraft in the sky.
The other new mission is the Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS), which deploys Battlefield Airmen to forward locations with Joint Forces troops on the ground to relay information regarding air support assets to forward deployed commanders. 

These Battlefield Airmen, also known as Tactical Air Control Parties (TACP), face rigorous mental and physical training to become a member of the new ASOS unit. The primary mission is to advise the ground commander on the proper use and execution of airpower to shape the battlefield, and to provide close control of aircraft munitions. This requires detailed integration with ground forces. 

"We're excited to get our new missions combat ready," Hauser said. "We have more than 80 Airmen currently in training for different positions in the new missions. This transition is a long process and the official designation makes the Wing one step closer to being ready." 

Along with the new missions, the 181st continues to have a combat ready Mission Support Group, including: Civil Engineering Squadron, Medical Group, Security Forces Squadron, Services Squadron, Communications Flight, Military Personnel Flight, and Logistics Readiness Squadron. Like every Guard unit, the 181st still responds to the needs of community and state. The recent flooding throughout southern Indiana demonstrated how an Intelligence Wing, preparing for a global-aspect mission, still supported state and local flood prevention and recovery efforts. 

Rich with history, the story of the 181st Fighter Wing has officially opened a new chapter. A chapter filled with digital imagery, high-tech battlefield surveillance and on-the-ground air strikes will replace the roar of jet engines. The "Racer" pride that pushed 181st Airmen to the highest performance level still exists and the echoes of rumbling jets will resonate through a new identity - The 181st Intelligence Wing.