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Air Support Ops keep control at Atlantic Strike V

by Staff Sgt. Amanda Savannah
U.S. Central Command Air Forces Public Affairs

4/20/2007 - AVON PARK AIR GROUND TRAINING COMPLEX, Fla. (AFNEWS)  -- The 682nd Air Support Operations Squadron Airmen from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., provided tactical command and control as the Air Support Operations Center during Atlantic Strike V April 14-20 at the Avon Park Air Ground Complex at Avon Park, Fla.

The ASOC is the forward extension of the air component's Combined Air Operations Center.

"Our function here is to operate the ASOC, which provides tactical command and control for the application of joint air power in support of the training," said Lt. Col. Ken Craib, commander of the 682nd ASOS at Shaw AFB.

The ASOC receives air support requests from Tactical Air Control Parties and Joint Terminal Attack Controllers on the range over the Joint Air Request Net. They match the requests with the Combined Forces Air Component Commander's directives and resources against available resources and then tasks the aircraft to the TACP and JTAC locations. It then provides the control necessary to apply joint air power.

"The ASOC performs procedural control, making sure the Airmen have the battlespace and situational awareness needed to engage the enemy," Colonel Craib said.

The two key operators of the ASOC are the fighter duty technicians and fighter duty officer, Colonel Craib said.

"The FDTs' skills come from working with the JTAC community," he said. "They've been out on the front edge and working with them. They come back here with an understanding of the needs of the JTACs forward then work with the ASOC to match the right aircraft to go to the right place."

Senior Airman Travis Daigle, a FDT with the 682nd ASOS at Shaw AFB, participated in the training event.

"I work procedural airspace deconfliction, which is very important because there's no radar coverage here," Airman Daigle said. "Our control is the verbal communication between the pilots and us to get them where they need to go. This setting gives the JTACs and us practice together."

When JTACs forward, working with ground commanders, decide to request airpower, the FDO monitoring the aircraft in theater matches the appropriate aircraft against the requested effects. FDOs come from air battle management and fighter bomber crews to have a better understanding of platforms' effects and loiter times.

This doesn't necessarily mean ordnance will be necessary.

"Shows of force are used frequently in theater as well," Colonel Craib said. "For example, there was an instance in Afghanistan where a large group of people was gathering around a Navy Sea, Air, Land team that was traveling. A B-1 went by and the crowd dispersed -- no shots fired. Desired effects are not just produced with weapons, a platform itself can produce the effect needed by being in the right place."

The training offered at Atlantic Strike is "our capstone training event," said Colonel Craib. "It gives us an opportunity to exercise our Tactics, Techniques and Procedures in a near-real time setting. We are able to work with joint aircraft, which also allows us to practice new TTPs and develop them before we deploy."

The joint environment is also key to training for the ASOC.

"We're continuing to expand our capability to bring the full spectrum of joint air power in support of the Joint Forces Commander's objectives in theater," Colonel Craib said. "For example, (at Atlantic Strike V) the Navy P-3 brought the ability to take reconnaissance imagery and give to the ground, thus supporting coalition JTACs who supported an Army scout team. The ASOC captured the video and then disseminated it to Air Force fighter crews for mission planning. That's about as joint as we can get."

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