HONOLULU, Hawaii -- While there are many career paths in the United States Army that are often found in the spot light, there are also many career paths that remain in the shadows, but are of equal importance. Some paths require 24-hour operations, sacrifice in lieu of holidays and extreme attention to detail. These are just a few of the demands that the life of a sensor manager entails. With the current climate of the world, Air and Missile Defense has become a necessity and sensor managers will be thrust to the forefront of the defense of this nation.
“The immediate tangible effect of what the operators do on the systems, they can see it happening,” said Capt. Erick Heaney, the sensor manager cell officer in charge, 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. “It’s the immediate tangible result that maybe you don’t always see in other military occupational specialties and jobs.”
It is arguable that sensor managers are becoming one of the most important occupations in the U.S. Army; they defend this nation as well the Indo-Pacific Region.
The MOS 14H is an Air Defense Enhanced Early Warning System Operator; becoming a sensor manager is a broadening assignment in this field. They conduct surveillance and review data via their specific systems in regards to Air and Missile Defense and effectively communicate their findings to higher headquarters. They are also responsible for the transportation and use of their equipment in a myriad of environments while working alongside allied and joint forces.
Sensor Managers also have the ability to operate their respective systems thousands of miles away from their home unit and duty station, which introduces a new level of responsibility as well as requiring a greater level of maturity.
“There are a lot of hands off eye sight from the command team, we have to trust in these individuals,” said Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Baerwald, the sensor manager cell operations sergeant, 10th Missile Defense Battery, 94th AAMDC, JBPHH, Hawaii. “There are times when you have to be here and do this and your leader can’t be there at all times, you have to be able to make decisions on your own.”
An occupation such as this also requires a great level of intellect. In regards to this occupation, the term “First line of defense”, is an under statement. This field requires 24/7 operations and does not rest when the majority of the nation does. While the average person sleeps, sensor managers around the globe have been awake for hours monitoring the skies above. In addition to this, they gather information and alert higher authority in regards to aerial attacks as well as missile attacks in real time.
With the ever-changing battlefield, the importance for this MOS continues to grow. Missile Defense capabilities have become a priority through out the world and sensor managers are needed to conduct surveillance and early warning for attacks through various systems. In many occupations, Soldiers often train for years before putting that training to use; for sensor managers, their training provides a guide as they conduct real world missions on the daily bases.
“At no time do you ever feel like you’re training just to train, you are training to actually do your job,” said Baerwald. “Its really rewarding in that sense.”
Sensor managers conduct real time daily analysis through various systems and units through out the world. While they may not receive the accolades they deserve, the immediate effect of the safe keeping of this nation will continue to suffice. They continue to detect and protect this nation from enemies both foreign and domestic.
“The earlier something can be detected, the more posturing time friendly defense systems have to engage it,” Heaney stated. “We’re giving you additional time that those systems alone would not have, through the use of integrated missile defense sensors and systems.”