Airmen leave to assist 3rd IBCT
Story by: Shandi Dix
Twenty-five members of the 10th Air Support Operations Squadron, Air Force, are starting the new year off with a deployment to provide support to the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, during its deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Air Force members departed Jan. 8 for a six-month tour of duty.
Among those deploying are Senior Airman Andrew MacDonald, Tactical Air Control Party, 10th ASOS and Capt. Ian Lucas, air liaison officer, 10th ASOS.
MacDonald has been a member of the U.S. Air Force for more than two years and has been assigned to 10th ASOS for more than a year. Lucas has been in the Air Force since December 2002 and has been assigned to 10th ASOS since November 2008.
This will be the first deployment for MacDonald and the sixth for Lucas.
Previously Lucas served as a crewmember on the Joint Surveillance Targeting Attack Radar System aircraft in support of the Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom four times. This will be his second deployment during his assignment at Fort Riley with 10th ASOS, having previously deployed for a six-month tour in support of OIF in late 2009.
To prepare for their mission downrange the Airmen have conducted individual as well as team training.
"I have been on five weeklong close air support (temporary dutys) all over the country … I have also attended a (Joint Readiness Training Center) rotation," MacDonald said.
"As a team, we have conducted a field training exercise at the Smoky Hill Air National Guard Range near Salina for four days of advanced close air support and counterinsurgency training," Lucas said. "We have also qualified to drive the (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicle) for use in Afghanistan's rugged terrain. About eight of us went to (the National Training Center) with (the 3rd IBCT, 1st Inf. Div.). This is in addition to our regular rigorous close air support training as Tactical Air Control teams. About a fifth of our team, including the two officers, have completed the month long Joint Terminal Attack Controller Qualification Course at Nellis (Air Force Base, Las Vegas).
The unit's mission down range will be the liaison between the Air Force and Army – specifically 3rd IBCT, 1st Inf. Div. – to plan for and conduct close air support missions in the current stage of OEF.
"This is a joint mission that brings Air Force capabilities to the ground force commander," Lucas said. "This will be less offensive than in earlier periods; now we are there to provide more overwatch and surveillance, with force that can be escalated to deter enemy actions against friendly forces, while avoiding collateral damage to the maximum extent possible."
To prepare for the deployment Lucas has spent as much time with his children as possible. While deployed he plans to interact with them through webcam capabilities on a daily basis to stay connected.