This episode of The Spear features a story from US Air Force Major Joe “TBar” Ritter. A remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) pilot, listeners might recognize his name and voice from a previous episode, released in 2020. He returns to share a story that took place both at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, where he and his sensor operator, Dylan, were located and in Afghanistan’s Kunar province, where the MQ-9 Reaper they were flying was supporting a unit on the ground. Tasked with an intelligence collection mission as the unit tracked a local Taliban chief, an unusual event on the ground caught the crew’s attention.
What they detected forced the crew to confront a difficult question: How could they convince a unit half a world away of what they saw on the ground when the unit’s staff expects its collection plan to be executed? Ritter’s experience, sense of commander’s intent, and ability to frame a solution to his supported unit all come into play, as do the unique and varied capabilities of the MQ-9 Reaper.
Listen to the full story below, and if you aren’t already subscribed to The Spear, be sure to do so on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, TuneIn, or your favorite podcast app.
Image credit: Senior Airman Cory D. Payne, US Air Force