WRANGB Airmen deploy to Afghanistan

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Patricia Baker
  • 137 ARW Public Affairs
     Airmen from the 146th Air Support Operations Squadron at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base deployed to Afghanistan in July in support of Army and Air Force operations overseas. Tech. Sgt. Larry Mansell, a radio operator maintainer and driver for the squadron and a member of the deployment, said some of the squadron Airmen had been training in preparation for the deployment for over a year.
     Mansell said there are two main jobs that fall under the operations of the ASOS unit.
There are radio operator maintainer and drivers and there are joint terminal attack controllers. Many of the ROMADs are apprentices to the JTACs, and they both work alongside Army forces in hostile environments.
     JTACs are specially trained to coordinate precision ground-to-air strikes on enemy targets. ASOS Airmen gather crucial information about enemy forces, including location and positioning, while under potentially harsh conditions.
They translate and communicate information to aircraft in order to provide air support to U.S. troops on the ground.
     The Oklahoma Air National Guard is instrumental and crucial to the mission of troops overseas, Mansell said. This year a battle happened at the same location the WRANGB Airmen deployed to. On May 25, the Washington Air National Guard's 116 ASOS unit guided jets and helicopters into battle in order to drop bombs on enemy forces attacking troops on the ground in Afghanistan. The event showed how critical their jobs are to overseas missions.
     The severe 72-hour battle began with an ambush from hundreds of enemy insurgents on U.S. troops and on an Afghan National Security unit. Afterwards, with 100 insurgent fighters dead, and with zero coalition force casualties, the service members involved said that the Washington guardsmen were the "key to the battle." The Airmen successfully worked alongside their Army teammates during the fight. They quickly and accurately gave aircraft the information needed to deliver close-range fire power on the enemy that ultimately changed the tide of the battle.
     Lt. Col. Bruce Hamilton, commander for the 146 ASOS unit here, said that this is a potential situation the deployed unit could find themselves in while in that same location in Afghanistan. Mansell said that the entire unit was well trained and well prepared for their mission. "We'll be making a difference," he said.
     The Will Rogers guardsmen replaced the Washington guardsmen and will carry on their mission.