Joint operations provide unique experiences for Airmen
September 15, 2011
FORT STEWART, Ga. - For many service members, the opportunity to work hand in hand with members from a different service is a rarity that few experience. However, for the Airmen attached to 2nd "Spartan" Heavy Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division, and based out of Wright Army Airfield, the joint service experience is just part of the job.
As part of the Close Air Support teams stationed on Wright Army Airfield, many Airmen find themselves attached to and working with brigades throughout the Third Infantry Division for two to even three years.
"I've been with the Spartan Brigade for going on three years now," said Air Force Capt. Robert Eroh, who provides Close Air Support assets to 2nd HBCT for every field and training exercise.
"As part of the Close Air Support team you will at some point be attached to units outside of the Air Force, what we call an Alpha Tour, it definitely helps you grow from the experience of being with services outside of your own," said Capt. Eroh, whom served with the Spartan Brigade during its most recent tour to Iraq in 2009.
Captain Eroh also said the best part of working with the Spartan Brigade and the Army for three years now was the building of a relationship between both services and the unit's command.
"For many of us in the Air Force, working with another branch like this is the closest we come to the frontlines during combat operations, but more importantly it is the time that we get to spend with the unit. Many times when you are from a different service then the unit you are attached to, you are looking in from the outside. That is why we are attached to units for so long, we build that relationship so the unit just sees you as one of their own; for me that is what it is all about -- building camaraderie regardless of service," said Capt. Eron.
However, for Senior Airman Michael Morsen, the opportunity to work with units near the frontline drew him to the CAS field.
"My brother joined the Air Force before me, so I knew that is the service I wanted to join.
However, he is a mechanic and I knew that wasn't for me. So after a lot of research I found out about Close Air Support and I knew that is what I wanted to do," said Senior Airmen Morsen.
"Just getting the opportunity to work with Soldiers on the ground in Iraq or Marines in Afghanistan, I've been able to see a lot more then what many other Airmen ever experience; and something I wouldn't ever give up," said Senior Airmen Morson.