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Ground troops look up to Compass Call

by Capt. James H. Cunningham
455th Air Expeditionary Wing

10/27/2005 - BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (AFPN) -- Operation Enduring Freedom has become as much about electrons as about bullets.

Providing an umbrella of electronic protection over ground forces has become the role of EC-130H Compass Call aircraft here.

But since November 2004, the 41st Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron has taken that role to the next level by supporting more than 1,500 air support requests, or ASRs.

“One-hundred percent of what we do here is provide support to ground forces,” said Lt. Col. Dean “Clean” Worley, the squadron commander. “We are essentially providing electronic close-air support”

Providing this type of direct electronic attack support to ground forces is a new role for the airframe.

“In the past, we have been a part of operations supporting both conventional and special operations ground forces,” Colonel Worley said. “But the level of true integration, down to the battalion level and below, is what’s new. The number of ASRs we’ve supported shows how much we’ve embraced this mission.”

The Compass Call essentially provides an electronic shield around ground forces. The shield gives friendly forces freedom to do their job, while denying the enemy the ability to use many of their technological assets. It is a mission that has garnered customer respect.

“I can tell you Soldiers rest easier knowing the EC-130s are flying overhead,” said Brig. Gen. James Champion, Combined Joint Task Force-76 deputy commander for operations. “From the ground forces’ perspective, it gives us added protection from a number of threats and it also keeps the enemy from doing what he wants to do. The result is saved lives. You can’t put a price on that.”

The EC-130s have been continuously deployed in this region for more than 18 months.

“The drive to accomplish the mission has never slackened or wavered,” Colonel Worley said. “It’s an honor to be in command of such a group of warriors.”

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