Archive for September 21, 2012
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Matthew Perry ( right) and U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Darryl Honick work together to control and coordinate a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet — hence the headline “Triple Play” — during Operation Spartan Shield in Southwest Asia.
Perry is a radio operator-maintainer-and-driver (ROMAD) assigned to the 82nd Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron. ROMADs are considered Joint Terminal Attack Controllers in training and help coordinate and control combat helicopter and fixed wing aircraft as well as unmanned aerial vehicles from all U.S. services as well as coalition partners. (See the photo below). Honick, a joint fire observer, is assigned to 3rd Battalion, 159th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion.
This photo shows the objective of all this inter-service ground-to-air coordination: A Navy Super Hornet uses an inert laser-guided bomb against a target during Operation Spartan Shield.
Joint Terminal Attack Controllers establish and maintain command and control communications, control air traffic, naval gun fire and attack guidance for close air support of friendly troops on the ground. And here’s another cool photo of one, Air Force 1st Lt. Drew Parks of the 82nd Air Support Expeditionary Squadron, in action under a starry desert sky.
To see some more photos of this training exercise, click here.
Pretty as a Picture
The aircraft carrier USS George Washington sails near Guam at sunset while under way in the Pacific Ocean. The George Washington is the centerpiece of Carrier Strike Group 5, the US Navy’s only continuously forward deployed carrier strike group, based out of Yokosuka, Japan. Carrier Strike Group 5 is currently on a routine Western Pacific patrol.
Despite the upsurge in Afghan security forces turning their guns on coalition troops and the erosion of trust it has caused between Afghans and their advisers, a top commander in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Afghanistan says the planned drawdown of western troops from the country is still on schedule.
Brigadier Gen. Roger Noble of the Australian Army told Pentagon reporters in a video-conference press briefing Wednesday (Sept. 19) that “beneath the noise and turbulence of day-to-day operations and events, the campaign remains on track” to achieve the objectives laid down by a 2010 NATO meeting in Lisbon, Portugal specifying that Afghan forces will assume full responsibility for security across the country by the end of 2014.
Noble, deputy chief of staff for operations for the U.N.-mandated, NATO-led ISAF in Afghanistan, said “relentless pressure on the enemy” has increasingly pushed the fighting and insurgency away from major population centers. He noted that 76 percent of Afghanistan’s 30 million inhabitants now live in areas where the Afghan National Army and National Police have taken over security duties or are in the process of doing so.
He was asked several questions about the growing number of so-called “green on blue attacks” or “insider attacks” on ISAF troops by the Afghans they are training. More than 50 ISAF troops have been killed in such attacks this year, which has led the senior combat leader in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, to order all troops to go around armed and suspended small unit joint operations with the Afghans.
Noble acknowledged reports that coalition forces are developing a profile of Afghans Army and police uniforms who ambush ISAF troops but its hard to do when many of the shooters are themselves killed or escape.
However, he said, coalition and Afghan forces will dig deep into the shooter’s background – even if they aren’t around to question in person. Noble said investigators will look into “how long the person has been in the Afghan national security forces, what they’ve been doing immediately prior to the attack, have they been in the unit or [have they] been away, where are they from, what — are they having any personal or administrative problems, what’s their personal demeanor and conduct like?”
He said the Sept. 14 Taliban attack on Camp Bastion which left two coalition troops dead and six Harrier jump jets destroyed was under investigation to determine “whether there was any inside assistance in allowing the [Taliban] assault force to bridge the perimeter and conduct the attack.” Fifteen insurgents attacked the post at three points, breaching the perimeter fence in one spot. All but one were killed in the firefight. The 15th attacker was wounded and taken into custody.