By Staff Sgt. Justin A. NaylorMarch 5, 2014
FORT IRWIN, Calif. - A little inter-service rivalry isn't always a bad thing, but teamwork is even better.
Soldiers from 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, and airmen from 5th Air Support Operations Squadron worked together to defeat a simulated enemy during training at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., during the month of January.
"Basically, we are here to provide close air support for the Army," said Senior Airman Jeremy Archuleta, a Cassbille, Miss., native and joint terminal attack controller.
Close air support in this case was fixed wing aircraft such as B-1 bombers, B-52s, A-10s, fighter jets and more.
"We enable the Army to have joint integration," said 1st Lt. William Palmer, a Fall Branch, Tenn., native and air liaison officer with 5th ASOS. "They know they need air support. It's a necessity of this day and age."
Palmer said that his airmen worked closely with their counterparts to coordinate fires - in this case meaning artillery, mortars, fixed wing aircraft and helicopters - to ensure the most effective means of destroying the enemy and defending their forces.
During the nearly monthlong training rotation, the airmen integrated directly into combat battalions and shared a space on the main mission command floor calling in air support and planning future operations.
"We're always aligned with Army units," Archuleta said of his unit. During past deployments, Archuleta worked with both 2-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team and 4-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team doing a similar mission.
Although his job is to call in close air support and guide them to a target, Archuleta, a five-year Air Force veteran, has never had the opportunity to do it on the scale that is available at NTC.
"It's my first time for force on force," said Archuleta, who had only called in aircraft to support counterterrorism operations in the past. "It's my first time sending an aircraft against the main body of an enemy."
During one particularly heated battle, Archuleta called in a B-52 bomber and lead it directly over the main portion of the enemies armored attack force, incapacitating 40 vehicles and halting their advance.
"The Air Force assets allow us a means of striking deep targets," said Capt. Christ Farrington, a Pownal, Maine, native and battle captain with 3-2 SBCT, who is responsible for overseeing the battle as it unfolds.
Farrington, who had only worked with the Air Force on a limited scale before this, was impressed with the damage they were able to cause against the enemy.
"They love what we do," said Archuleta, of his Army counterparts. "They liked what we brought to the fight. They try to integrate us as much as possible."
While this joint exercise will by no means end the friendly inter-service rivalries that the military has come to love, it is a step toward integrating all available assets to destroy an enemy and ensure victory.