By Rob Jassey
I'm in this business to help soldiers save lives.
I'm a U.S. Army veteran of 26 years and retired Colonel since 2006. For most of that time I was involved in air defense, serving as Commander of a Patriot missile battery and the Army's first Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Battalion, helping protect soldiers, civilians and assets from missiles and other airborne threats.
I was also the Army's lead investigator for two “friendly-fire” incidents that occurred in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. In both cases, we learned the soldiers at the controls of the Patriot anti-missile systems involved did not have the information necessary to make the right decisions in the time needed. They acted precisely as they were trained to based on available information. They responded according to the rules of engagement and shot down what were identified as incoming threats. These “threats” were actually U.S. and British aircraft, unidentifiable at the time, and the response killed pilots aboard both aircraft. We later discovered intelligence from systems operating in the field that could have prevented these tragic events if it had somehow been available to the soldiers at the controls.
As I interviewed the soldiers involved, each of whom was struggling to accept and understand what happened, I had two distinct realizations. One was knowing, as I looked in their eyes and asked difficult questions, that we are asking young men and women every day to carry the tremendous burden of split-second, life-and-death decisions.
The other was knowing we can do better for them. We can provide better technology, integrating information from all systems operating in the battlespace, and delivering it in a more meaningful, comprehensible way.
These incidents led the Army on a comprehensive modernization of Air and Missile Defense (AMD), an effort I was proud to champion while in uniform. Upon my retirement, I was thrilled to join Northrop Grumman and contribute to the Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) and Integrated Battle Command System (IBCS). We are developing each of these systems in partnership with the Army as the cornerstone of their AMD modernization.
In tests with soldiers, IBCS has already demonstrated its ability to give air defenders around the world the high-tech tools needed for decisive advantage against enemies, and the information they need to avoid preventable tragedies. Our soldiers deserve no less, it's why I do what I do.
Rob Jassey is a U.S. Army veteran and former IAMD / IBCS Program Director currently heading Northrop Grumman's IBCS global advocacy efforts.
Are you interested in a fulfilling career in an organization that seeks to serve and protect our warfighters? Check out our career areas to find the right fit for you. If you can identify with Rob as a current (or transitioning) veteran, make sure to search our Veterans page to learn how we support veterans.