Perhaps the most telling comment about the importance of the 10th Air Support Operations Squadron’s mission came from Air Force Staff Sgt. James Terhardt, noncommissioned officer in charge of the 10th ASOS Commander’s Support Staff. There’s a lot of things going on during combat operations, he said.
“There are civilians out there,” Terhardt said. “There are our own forces and there are coalition forces. So we are about giving them (the 1st Infantry Division) what they need to conduct those operations. That’s why we are here at Fort Riley instead of an Air Force base somewhere. How else can we support our Army brothers? So it’s good we are here.”
The readiness needed to support the 1st Inf. Div. means training, which are regularly scheduled. According to Staff Sgt. Marcos Silverio, a Tactical Air Control Party journeyman, who coordinated a training event June 28 to 29, there are two main divisions in the 10th ASOS organization — Operations and Support, but regardless of the side of the house they are on, each Airman is required to have pre-requisite skills so they can operate in the war time environment.
“What we are doing today is nothing more than re-familiarization,” Silverio said. “The support staff may not do this as part of their primary job, but they still need to know these skills to be here. So what we do is put a ruck sack on them, perform land nav (navigation) and go to each point, and we’ll knock out certain operation task evaluations.”
According to its mission statement, the flights of the 10th ASOS that serve each brigade of the 1st Inf. Div., provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, tactical air control systems and close air support. It also advocates or recommends air, space and cyberspace power in joint battle planning.
Since it is self-contained, Terhardt said, the 10th ASOS has many jobs that enable it to accomplish its mission, including radio technicians, personnel experts, Tactical Air Control Party personnel, Joint Terminal Attack Controllers and cyber experts, supply technicians, heating, ventilating and air conditioning specialists and vehicle maintenance professionals.
“One of the biggest challenges we have in conducting training is that we have such a high ops (operations) tempo,” Silverio said. “So we have to figure out who my players will be and what can they do for me, task delegation, I need to know how many people from the operations side of the house versus the support side of the house. But we do a great job at working together and cooperating with each other.”
One of those positions is held by Technical Sgt. Saundra Collins, a weapons director for the 10th ASOS.
“Our goal is to help de-conflict the area of battle for ground commanders,” she said. She added the power the ASOS team can bring to bear include A-10 Warthog support aircraft, airborne early warning and control aircraft, F-15 Eagles, F-16 Falcons and other aircraft.
“So that means we have to control the various altitude levels those aircraft operate in,” Collins said, adding that the Air Force is using the same air space the Army is using for its aircraft as well as projectiles and other ordnance.
When fully operational and engaged in a theater of battle, Collins said, the 10th ASOS personnel are supported by elements from the 3rd Air Support Operations Group, in Fort Hood, Texas, and the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing, at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.
The 9th Air Force, located at Shaw AFB, South Carolina, is the top echelon for those units.
“This was my first time out at this range,” Butler said. “It provided an abundance of opportunity to get quality training with the various platforms flying out here. I was able to work directly with an Italian F-35 pilot which was a completely new experience for me because I haven’t worked with a European pilot before. Just that alone plays a pivotal role in our upcoming deployment later this year.”