‘TF Bronco,’ Air Force join forces to fight Afghan insurgents

| July 14, 2011 | 0 Comments
U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles, from the 389th Expeditionary Fighter Sqdn., like the ones shown here, begin to province 176 consecutive hours of air support and drop more than 100 bombs in support of Operation Hammer Down II. U.S Air Force CAS assets and the 3rd BCT, 25th ID, played critical roles in the success of the air-ground operation. (Photos Courtesy of 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs)

U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles, from the 389th Expeditionary Fighter Sqdn., like the ones shown here, begin to province 176 consecutive hours of air support and drop more than 100 bombs in support of Operation Hammer Down II. U.S Air Force CAS assets and the 3rd BCT, 25th ID, played critical roles in the success of the air-ground operation. (Photos Courtesy of 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs)

Staff Sgt. John Wright
455th Air Expeditionary Wing

Joint operation disrupts the enemy’s capabilities with coordinated ground, air attacks

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — “Task Force Bronco” Soldiers and Air Force close air support, or CAS, played a critical role in the success of Operation Hammer Down II, along the Afghan-Pakistan border, here, recently.

Operation Hammer Down II was a coalition effort to disrupt insurgents operating and training throughout the Pech Valley area, here, and also continued the expansion of Afghan National Security Forces’ capabilities through partnered operations.

Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, partnered with Afghan National army troops for air assaults into the high ground surrounding the valley. Heavy insurgent fire began the next morning and continued for four days.

As the fight began to develop, it became clear that CAS from the U.S. Air Force was going to be critical, not only to the success of the mission, but also for saving lives. The 389th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron provided 176 consecutive hours of air support and dropped more than 100 bombs in support of the operation.

“There were numbers of occasions, where if we hadn’t had CAS, lives would have been lost or strong points overrun,” said Maj. Dan Gibson, fire support officer, 3rd BCT. “Our ground commanders worked hand-in-hand with Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controllers to get bombs where we needed them.”

“We brought a major advantage through the air,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Daren Sorenson, deputy commander, 455th Expeditionary Operations Group, and F-15E Strike Eagle pilot. “The enemy knows how to adapt their tactics to ground forces and to use the terrain to their advantage, but we brought something they could not counter.”

Pfc. Dallas Wood, Co. D, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd BCT, 25th ID, looks over the valley below after dismounting from a landing zone during Operation Hammer Down II in the Kunar province, Afghanistan, recently.

Pfc. Dallas Wood, Co. D, 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd BCT, 25th ID, looks over the valley below after dismounting from a landing zone during Operation Hammer Down II in the Kunar province, Afghanistan, recently.

According to Sorenson, the mere sound of jet engines was enough to send insurgents running from the fight. Although the roar of fighters over the battlefield was a powerful presence, it didn’t completely stop enemy efforts to overrun coalition positions. Numerous and frequent, “danger-close” fire support requests came in to the fighters overhead.

Air Force service members walked a delicate balance of quickly dropping munitions, while making sure all necessary calculations and coordination had occurred to make sure bombs did not hit friendly forces.

In addition to the forces coming together to deliver responsive and precise air power to ground commanders, Sorenson said Operation Hammer Down II was one of the best examples of the joint force working seamlessly together that he has ever seen.

“Every single time I go on deployment, I see the progress we’ve made as a joint warfighting capability, and it just continues to get better over time,” Sorenson said, who is on his sixth deployment. “Hammer Down is such a good example of what we do. We have gotten to the point where it is so joint and so integrated.

“It’s astounding,” he exclaimed.

Coalition intelligence officials estimated the achievements of the joint operation interrupted the enemy’s training capabilities and disrupted them from making coordinated attacks for the remainder of the fighting season.

 

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Category: Deployed Forces, News

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