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Air Force, Army integrate capabilities

FORT DRUM, N.Y. --

U.S. military forces often work together combining resources to obliterate foes; supporting one another is what allows them to rely on one another while downrange.

Exercises like Warfighter Exercise 18-1 hosted by the 10th Mountain Division (MTN DIV) Oct. 3 through 11 prepare them by letting them focus more on the enemy and less on the characteristics that separate them.

"Integration with the world's greatest Air Force is paramount when fighting a modern, peer adversary," said U.S. Army Major General Walter E. Piatt, 10th MTN DIV commanding general. "We have to enable this division to be as lethal as possible by leveraging all of our enabling assets, especially the Air Force."

The exercise tested the 10th MTN DIV and its joint partners’ ability to use allocated forces and defeat the enemy. Mission success in the exercise depended heavily on successful interactions between Army and Air Force members.

Previous exercises made them aware of inadequacies in their communication, and since integration between Airmen and Soldiers is key to success, changes in their set-up have made communicating easier and more effective.

“We used to have the Air Support Operations Center [ASOC] in its own tents that would communicate with the Army tents in the tactical operations center through radios or chat,” Crawford said. “In a better effort to integrate, we now have our ASOC in the Joint Air Ground Integration Cell with them, communicating in real time instead of through those other methods.”

“The ASOC Airmen communicate with the Air Force assets allocated to the Army ground units, coordinate attacks and send them downrange to provide that support,” he added.

The 10th MTN DIV aligns with the 20th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS), routinely training and fighting together. Airmen from the 14 ASOS, 682nd ASOS, and 18th Weather Squadron Detachment 1 contribute by providing joint terminal air controller, air support operation center, and weather forecasting capabilities to support the ground commanders’ scheme of maneuver with the full complement of airpower assets.

 “[Years ago] the Army got rid of their weather capability and asked that we provide Airmen to fill the need, so we have Airmen 24/7 [who] support every air field the Army has,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Dane Crawford, 18th Air Support Operations Group commander. “When the Army goes downrange, weather personnel go with them to advise on how the weather will impact their missions.”

Members can plan for almost every scenario months in advance when preparing for a deployment, but they can’t predict the daily weather.

“We provide insight on how weather can effect aviation and ground assets in terms of safety, visibility, and driving conditions so our input is important to mission success,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Steven Gray-Kelly, 18th WS Det. 1 weather journeyman. “In our support of the Army commander, it’s incredibly important we guide him in every way we can and remind him of how we can help.”