By 1st Lt. Holli Nelson and Senior Master Sgt. Allison Day , 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 04, 2014
SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Working behind the scenes isn't an easy job, especially when that job involves ensuring their Tactical Air Control Party Airmen can accurately put bombs on targets. For the Airmen of the 82nd Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron, this is their way of life.
From radio frequency transmissions systems craftsmen to knowledge operations and vehicle maintenance, Airmen from the support element know firsthand what it's like to support their TACP Airmen.
For Staff Sgt. Lucas Smith, a radio frequency transmissions craftsman deployed from the 682nd ASOS, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the best part of his job is troubleshooting equipment.
"Whenever I get a chance to fix something, it's a good day," said Smith, a Cummings, Georgia native. "Being able to take what I've learned through the years of reading manuals and 'breaking' things and making them work again is a great feeling."
Smith and Staff Sgt. Jacob Jacques, who deployed from the 712th ASOS, Fort Hood, Texas, are the only two radio frequency transmissions craftsmen deployed with this unit.
"The TACPs primary weapon is their communications," said Jacques. "Without radio maintenance, combat radios, antennas, headsets and connectors will eventually corrode and be useless. We ensure that does not happen by running diagnostic checks on each communication system for use in combat."
From the operator's perspective, these specialized Airmen run continuous diagnostic checks on each communication system and are also experts in creating field expedient antennas, power cables and vehicular communications systems, vastly improving the standard issue equipment.
Staff Sgt. Julian Biringanine, deployed from 3rd Air Support Operations Group, Fort Hood, Texas, information management officer, is the communication support arm. The Fort Worth, Texas native ensures that all information technology and computer resources are working properly, he said.
"Our information assurance airmen provide their expertise to maintain digital capabilities, which are vital for day-to-day operations as a geographically separated unit," said Master Sgt. Brandon Peterson, 82nd EASOS senior enlisted manager and first sergeant, who deployed from 10th ASOS, Fort Riley, Kansas. "They coordinate with Army network teams to establish and maintain our network communication systems and also provide TACPs with our Digitally Aided Close Air Support system."
The Army deploys its forces by air, ground and foot and for any of these deployment methods to be a sustained operation, ground assault vehicles are a requirement, explained Peterson. Therefore, an EASOS has Airmen assigned that are enhanced technicians, able to repair and maintain essentially every wheeled vehicle that would be used to infiltrate and exfiltration combat operations.
Tech. Sgt. Russell Achee, deployed from 15th ASOS, Ft. Stewart, Georgia maintains all the combat vehicles for his unit.
"As a vehicle fleet manager, I ensure the vehicles are ready for use," said Achee, a native of Yuma, Arizona. "I'm responsible for 11 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles, three Humvees and five non tactical vehicles."
In addition to tracking vehicles, nothing happens without equipment. To ensure that EASOS Airmen have all the equipment they need is the job of the supply Airman.
"Our supply NCO is vital to our operations as they will not only track items but will also ensure accountability across the spectrum of operations. They make sure that the TACPs are outfitted with the best gear and equipment the military has to offer," said Peterson.
Currently, the four Airmen are rotating to backfill this essential position during the transition period and are highlighting their commitment to ensuring mission completion.
Made up of multiple career fields including the support and operational Air Force Specialty Codes, the 82d EASOS provides airpower and weather expertise to U.S. Army Central Regional Aligned Forces and regional partners across a 10-nation area of responsibility. In addition, the squadron supports a Central Command crisis response force and conducts partnership operations and combat training with six partner nations. Lastly, the squadron supports all American military services in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
"Our Airmen are very mindful of the role they play and how extremely important it is to the success of the EASOS mission," said Peterson. "Being deployed here and supporting the Army the way we do is our top priority. Without the dedication and direct support of our EASOS Airmen, we [TACPs] would not be able to focus on our war-time mission."