USS MOUNT WHITNEY (LCC/JCC-20) -- Information is one of the key factors contributing to the success of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa whose mission is to disrupt and defeat terrorism in the Horn of Africa region.
Several different sources gather information in a variety of ways. One section that contributes valuable information is the combat information center, or CIC.
"We are the nucleus of the ship and hub of the information center," said Chief Nicholas G. Koukis, cryptologic technician. "Eventually, all of the information that passes inside and out of the ship passes through us."
Their daily task is to gather tactical information, process it, disseminate it and make sure it gets to the appropriate individuals in a timely manner. Comprised of four different watch sections, the CIC works around the clock with one prime mission in mind.
"Ship protection is our overall responsibility," Koukis said.
This is accomplished by four work sections. These sections consist of cryptological technicians, warfare technicians, fire-control technicians and operations specialists. They have the capabilities to track surface, air, submarine and land base contacts by radar as well as plotting each one on a graph enabling them to see the "big picture."
"Getting the true geographical plots enables us to see where everyone is in relation to us," said Koukis, native of Farrel, Penn.
Working hand-in-hand with the joint operations center, information passes through many eyes and ears before decisions are made about missions.
"The JOC's main area of responsibility lies in the Horn of Africa region, so we work together twofold with them," said Koukis. "Any missions they are preparing for, they tell us and anything we might see in that particular area, we tell them. It's all about tactical awareness."
Both CJTF-HOA and the ship's crew had little notice before they left on this deployment.
"At first everyone here was a little nervous, but going through our routine summer time drills helped us out," explained Koukis. "I think that knowing the capacity of the ship and the abilities of the service members aboard has put everyone at ease."