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AFIT MASINT Certificate Program Graduate Earns Decoration
Posted: 01/09/2006 by AFIT Public Affairs

     It isn’t everyday that an Air Force lieutenant earns the Army’s Commendation Medal.  However, First Lt. Kevin Kless did just that.  By combining his knowledge of Measurement and Signature Intelligence with initiative, hard work, preparation, and ability to make a difference, Lt. Kless’s contributions to force protection of U.S. combat personnel saved lives.
     Kless was in the first MASINT Certificate class in spring of 2002 while assigned to the National Air & Space Intelligence Cen¬ter at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.  Upon completion of the course, he developed a concept for an aerostat equipped with missile detection and electro-optical capability that could detect and locate mortar rounds and notify ground forces in time for them to respond.  The aerostat, which is essentially a large tethered blimp, would provide coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week—thus reducing casualties and helping retaliation.  It would also take a picture of an attacker, further pinpointing the target.
     In developing his concept, Lt. Kless learned that the Army already had an existing program underway designed around the same principles as his idea. When the Army aerostat program office learned of Kless’s MASINT and physics background, they immediately arranged to have him detailed to their office at Fort Monmouth and then deployed to Iraq to support their program.
     In-theater, Lt. Kless was one of the few personnel with an understanding of MASINT.  He quickly put this knowledge to work by correctly orienting a mis-pointed classified sensor.  Soon after, this same sensor collected data that led directly to the prevention of a mortar attack.  According to Kless, “getting that [MASINT] knowledge out there in the field saved lives.”
     The MASINT Certificate Program is a highly technical graduate education program offered at the Air Force Institute of Technology’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management.  Since its inception, nearly 200 students from across the government have graduated from the program. Nearly all the graduates are working in various positions within the Department of Defense or within intelligence community organizations including NASIC, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, and various Army, Navy, and Air Force offices.  As evidenced by Lt. Kless’s experience, graduates of the MASINT Certificate Program provide invaluable support to deployment operations.  “It’s truly gratifying to see the MCP graduates like Lt. Kless contributing in such a meaningful way to support our nation’s warfighters,”  stated Dr. Ronald Tuttle, Director for the AFIT Center for MASINT Studies & Research.
     For making a difference in that way, Kless was awarded the Army Commendation Medal.  Col. Michael Bowman, program manager for Night Vision, Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition, said of Kless, “he’s now one of the few Air Force officers with an Army Commendation Medal.  And [it’s] well deserved.”

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