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336th EFS sets tone for new phase of OIR

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Joshua Kleinholz
  • 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing

The first F-15E Strike Eagles assigned to the 336th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron arrived at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia late last month, kicking off a unique new phase of Operation Inherent Resolve.


The 336th EFS, supported and directed by the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, will serve as the primary source of air power in the region== performing targeted air strikes, defensive counter-air measures, and precision close-air support for Coalition forces on the ground.


“Our team is thrilled to be here doing our part to support the Coalition,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Swanson, 336th EFS commander. “We’ve been training for a long time, not only as a squadron, but as individuals as well, in order to protect our people on the ground.”


The “Rocketeers” arrive in the region after a recent string of victories for the Coalition, highlighted by the liberation of the Islamic State’s claimed capital, Raqqa, in late October. In the past six months, the outgoing 492nd EFS had a major impact on the fight== dropping more than 4,000 bombs and executing two air-to-air kills on adversary drones. Surrounded on all sides, and flushed out of their major strongholds, Air Force leadership expects that remaining ISIS forces will either give up or splinter off into smaller, more desperate, less predictable groups. The 336 EFS will meet the new challenge with a new approach.


“What the prior squadron saw, and what we’re seeing as well, is that the fight changes every single day. As it ebbs and flows, it’s important that we’re able to adapt to the mission that’s required of us,” said Swanson. “Though we may not be bombing ISIS compounds every day, there are still tens of thousands of people who need protecting from those who would do them grave harm.”


Though ISIS has been expelled from control in most of its former safe-havens, pockets of resistance will persist for some time. Meanwhile, the air space above the region will remain a complicated operations environment as various factions vie for influence over how the region is re-structured. Geopolitics aside, Rocketeer aircrews will remain focused on the task for which they’ve been training the past nine months.


“The prior squadron {492nd EFS} did a great job of reaching back to us as we worked through our training scenarios,” one 336th EFS aircrew member said. “They helped us to realize that while we may expect to drop a lot of bombs, the defensive counter-air mission set is going to be vital going forward.”


As this fight nears its end, the Rocketeers will look to measure their own success not by the number of bombs dropped, but by the effectiveness of their presence in all aspects; most importantly, the protection of the warfighters below.