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Little outpost, big mission: Camp Bala Hissar keeps eyes on Kabul
By Capt. Anthony Deiss, Task Force Rushmore Public Affairs
Jul 28, 2010 - 4:10:05 PM
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2nd Lt. Lucas Scheibe (left) and Sgt. 1st Class Michael Weyrich, members of the 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, South Dakota National Guard, discuss security for Camp Bala Hissar in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 14, 2010. Scheibe, of Brookings, S.D., serves as the officer in charge of Bala Hissar for Task Force Rushmore, while Weyrich, of Whitewood, S.D., serves as a security noncommissioned officer for the Department of Emergency Services. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Anthony Deiss)
KABUL, Afghanistan - What was once the site of a fifth century Afghan citadel overlooking Kabul, is now home to a small contingent of Afghan and U.S. military personnel who keep a modern-day eye on the capital.

Camp Bala Hissar, named after the ancient fortress it's located near, is home to a persistent surveillance system (PSS) - a floating aerostat (or blimp) with high-tech camera equipment - designed to better protect the people of Kabul and Afghan National Security Forces security operations.

Although the base is small, it has an important role in providing security for the city, says 2nd Lt. Lucas Scheibe, Camp Bala Hissar officer in charge.

"The aerostat provides surveillance for security forces operating throughout the city," said Scheibe, 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, South Dakota Army National Guard.

The system, suspended by a helium-filled balloon, tethered hundreds of feet in the air, provides high-resolution imagery and video, and when used with surveillance data from other security systems, helps security officials better anticipate threats around the city.

"The aerostat is able to rotate 360-degees and provide immediate coverage," said Scheibe of Brookings, S.D. "If there is ever an incident, we can help to identify the location and report it to the local Afghan security forces so they can directly respond."

The PSS has the capability to survey and closely monitor activity throughout the city and detect any possible enemy activities using high-definition, infrared and thermal imaging technology.

According to an ISAF press release, surveillance systems such as this have an impressive safety record and successful history of integrating with security systems to combat threats in eastern Afghanistan since early 2004. The Bala Hissar system has been in use in Kabul since 2009, and plans are underway to launch a new aerostat in the coming months.

Bala Hissar has nearly 100 security operations and transportation personnel supporting the mission, said Scheibe.

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS:

 
Soldiers of the 196th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, South Dakota Army National Guard, 2nd Lt. Lucas Scheibe, of Brookings, S.D., camp officer in charge (left), and Staff Sgt. Robert Schmidt, of Sioux Falls, S.D., security force noncommissioned officer, visit before a convoy operation at Camp Bala Hissar in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 14, 2010. In the distance is the remnants of a fifth century Afghan citadel which overlooks the city. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Anthony Deiss)
The Persistent Surveillance System at Bala Hissar is a floating aerostat (or blimp) with high-tech camera equipment designed to better protect the people of Kabul and enhance Afghan National Security Forces security operations in the Afghan capital. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Anthony Deiss)


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