604th Air Support Operations Squadron
The 604th ASOS is responsible to the Commander, Air Component Command (CACC) for training and maintaining all assigned assets in a high state of readiness to support theater air operations from either a fixed (2ID bunker) or mobile Air Support Operations Center (ASOC) elements. The ASOC manages all theater counterfire attack (ATK) and close air support (CAS) assets including the Tactical Air Control Parties (TACPs) attached to subordinate units of the ASOC's aligned army headquarters which is the 2d Infantry Division (2ID). It is also responsible for scrambling CAS aircraft, controlling the flow of PUSH ATK and CAS aircraft, assigning airborne forward air controllers (AFACs) to TACPs, deconflicting airborne assets, and coordinating between fighters and FACs. The ASOC controls the Air Force Air Request Net (AFARN) and the Tactical Air Direction Net (TAD) and processes army requests for counterfire and immediate CAS, reconnaissance, or electronic warfare (EW) support. It maintains communications with the Hardened Theater Air Control Center (HTACC) through high frequency (HF) communications.
The Director of Operations is responsible for ASOC and TACP operations at four operating locations. Ensures combat readiness of 90 personnel and $50 million in weapons systems. Member of 2ID Commanding General's special staff as Division ALO.
A large cadre of Enlisted Terminal Attack Controllers (ETAC -- pronounced E-TACK ), and apprentices called tactical air command and control specialists, are assigned to three detachments belonging to Osan's 604th Air Support Operations Squadron, a geographically separated unit which operates out of the U.S. Army's Camp Red Cloud, 25 miles northeast of Seoul. Even further removed from routine Air Force life than their host squadron, the three Air Force detachments are scattered amongst the Army installations of Camp Casey, Camp Stanley and Camp Humphreys.
Operating location "A," or OL-A, at Camp Casey, is the most forward deployed combat unit in the Air Force, according to the airmen assigned there. The small cadre of about 30 ETACs, TACCs, pilots and support personnel work out of two small clusters of buildings buried in the heart of "Army Country," but their unassuming peacetime presence grows to a mission of gargantuan proportions should a war ever break out on the Korean peninsula. In a wartime situation, each Camp Casey ETAC heads to the front with whichever Army unit they have been tasked to support. They take close air support requests from the tactical assembly center of their assigned Army unit and forward the requests up to the tactical operations center. These key members of the brigade and battalion battle staff provide US Army and Republic of Korea (ROK) commanders and staff with expert advice on optimum air power utilization. Plans and coordinates effective Close Air Support (CAS) and Air Interdiction (AI) missions. Advises, assists, and controls US, Korean, and allied fixed wing aircraft. Ensures the safe and effective integration of CAS aircraft with Army rotary wing assets, artillery fire, and ground maneuver forces. They employ laser marking devices, night targeting devices, and global positioning systems during day and night CAS missions. Operates encrypted digital and voice radio nets using MRC-144 weapon system and associated communications equipment. Responsible for the operation of the Air Force Air Request Net (AFARN) providing command and control of allied air power. They are organized to train assigned operations personnel for exercises and combat contingencies. Deploys to austere operating locations and performs field duties during training and contingencies with aligned US Army unit. Maintains currency on small arms weapons proficiency and tactics. Trains with aligned Army unit for mechanized, vehicular, and air assault insertion into the battlefield. Maintains full mission ready status as an ALO, ETAC, or TACCS. Forecasts and schedules daily employment for all CAS missions for training. Trains allied and US Army personnel in Emergency CAS control techniques.
OL-B at Camp Stanley is responsible for providing Tactical Air Command and Control Specialists (TACCS) to support the 2ID Aviation Brigade mission. All TACPs are trained, equipped, and prepared for deployment to support Air Force and 2ID exercise and contingency operations. OL-B provides joint mission planning, coordination, and inter-service liaison, ensuring effective integration of combat air resources with the joint battle plan. Primary emphasis is the control of close air support (CAS) missions that support the brigade's maneuver and firepower operations, Deep Attacks and JAAT sorties. In wartime, OL-B will operate out of either the Deep Operation Cell (DOOC) at the division main or the brigade's Tactical Operations Center (TOC) and assists the aviation commander with his deep attacks. The unit will also deploy to the field, to manage the Air Force Air Request and Air Direction Nets and brigade CAS sortie allocation for the 4-7th Cav Squadron.
OL-C at Camp Humphreys is responsible for providing Tactical Air Command and Control Specialists (TACCS) to support the 6th Cavalry Aviation Brigade mission. All TACPs are trained, equipped, and prepared for deployment to support Air Force and 6th Cavalry BDE exercise and contingency operations. OL-C provides joint mission planning, coordination, and inter-service liaison, ensuring effective integration of combat air resources with the joint battle plan. Primary emphasis is Deep Attacks and JAAT sorties. In wartime, OL-C will operate out of the brigade's Tactical Operations Center (TOC) and assists the aviation commander with his deep attacks.
The 604th air support operations squadron intelligence section is responsible for providing time sensitive contingency/exercise and peacetime intelligence data to key squadron personnel in support of operations as tasked by the commander, air component command (CACC). The intelligence section operates the in-flight battle damage assessment (BDA) net for collection and dissemination of counter fire and close air support BDA. The section acts as a liaison between air force intelligence and the second infantry division G-2, G-3, and fire support element. Thus ensuring both air force and army commanders are informed of the tactical situation in a joint environment.
ETACs and Air Liaison Officers comprise a tactical air control party. TACPs are Air Force elements attached to Army maneuver units from brigade to division, and provide the Army commanders immediate close air support to their fielded combat units. Because of their ability to integrate into the Army unit's scheme of maneuver, their communications capabilities, rapid response and eyes-on-target effectiveness, they are an important force multiplier to both branches of service. Several competitors have completed Army Ranger, Pathfinder, and Airborne jump schools, as required by their Army unit of assignment. Many ETACs will spend their entire careers assigned to Army posts throughout the world, yet they still adhere to the Air Force chain of command.
The 604th Direct Air Support Squadron was activated on 15 September 1968 at Wheeler AFB, Hawaii. Upon activation, the unit received most of its personnel from the 7th Direct Air Support Flight, a unit that was deactivated on 15 September 1968. The 604th became combat ready in the third quarter of 1969. It planned, coordinated, and scheduled PACAF/AFSTRIKE Air Support, as needed, for US Army exercises in the Hawaiian area. It also provided training for all newly assigned personnel in the PACOM area. In addition, it also deployed Direct Air Support Center and Tactical Air Control Party Elements of the Tactical Air Control System in the Pacific Theater as directed by CINCPACAF.
The 604th DASS was deactivated on 17 May 1976, then reactivated on 15 June 1976, when it assumed the resources of the 603rd Direct Air Support Squadron it was moved to Camp Red Cloud, Republic of Korea, where it has remained until the present time.
In January 1987 TACP Operations separated from the DASS becoming a separate unit known as Detachment 1 of the Combined Field Army Air Liaison Office. On 15 December 1989, the 603rd was designated as the 604th Air Support Operations Center Squadron, supporting the Combined Field Army.
In June 1992, the Combined Field Army was disestablished and the 604 ASOCS was realigned with the Third Republic of Korea Army(TROKA). TACPs at Camps Casey, Stanley, and Yongsan fell under the TROKA ALO and then went under the 607th Air Support Operations Group. This alignment makes the 604 ASOCS the first Air Force ASOC permanently aligned with a foreign field army.
On 15 December 1994 TACPs were organized into the 607th Air Support Operations Squadron supporting the 2nd Infantry Division. In May 1996, the 604th ASOCS aligned Air Support Operation Center support with the 2ID for the counterfire mission.
On 13 February 1998, the 604th ASOCS and the 607th ASOS merged into one squadron, redesignated as the 604th Air Support Operations Squadron. Despite the constant reorganization and name changes the unit mission has remained the same throughout two decades. 604th members maintain combat ready mobile ASOCS and TACPS to put airpower on target, on time, day or night.
Tiger Challenge 2000, the Korean peninsula wide competition for Air Force enlisted terminal attack controllers took place June 26-30 near Camp Garry Owen. Twenty-eight competitors vied for one of four places on the Pacific Air Forces team to attend Lightning Challenge 2000, the worldwide terminal attack controller competition at Hurlburt Field, Fla., in October.
Tiger Challenge 2000 tested competitors' physical and practical job skills. Physical skills included the Army's airborne confidence course, a 16-mile cross-country orienteering event, and the Army's physical fitness test. The fitness test awards points for doing as many sit-ups and push-ups possible in two minutes, followed by a timed two-mile run. Six competitors earned the maximum points awarded for their age group on the fitness test.
The cross-country orienteering course proved especially grueling. Designed to mirror the ETACs time-critical movement across difficult terrain in advance of their supported Army unit, the competition course covered a 10-kilometer-square area of mountainous terrain just south of the Imjim River. There were 13 navigation checkpoints scattered in the valleys and on the mountain tops throughout the course. Differing point values were assigned based upon the difficulty of reaching each checkpoint.
Competitors were allowed four hours to choose their route and complete the course while carrying a 35-pound rucksack and using only a compass, a map and their navigation skills. Every minute over the time limit cost the competitors a point.
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