By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matthew D. Leistikow, U.S. NavyJanuary 9, 2007
USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, At sea - Two Soldiers deployed to the Combined Air and Space Operations Center (CAOC) in Al Udeid, Qatar, have joined the crew aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Dec. 31 as Ground Liaison Officers (GLOs).
Maj. Dan Collins, and Sgt. 1st Class Richard Elias, from the 4th Battlefield Coordination Detachment, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, began their tour Aug. 29 as GLOs with the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65). They spent two months performing their duties aboard Enterprise before IKE entered the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility, Oct. 30, to relieve Enterprise during regularly scheduled deployments.
With the aid of the GLOs, pilots are given more information on how to make their mission more effective in supporting troops on the ground whether they're flying in support of Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"They make sure that the pilots have more situational awareness before they take off," said Col. Glenn Harp, Commander of the 4th Battlefield Coordination Detachment (BCD) which oversees the Army liaison officers. "The better situational awareness a pilot has, the better success of integration and synchronization of the ground power with the air power."
Harp came out to IKE Dec. 31 to visit with the GLOs and observe flight operations and the strike group concept from sea. He was able to see the work his Soldiers are doing and the effects they have had on air operations.
"I think having the GLOs has been a huge advantage," said Lt. j. g. David Ortiz, a member of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 103, the "Jolly Rogers." "We're having to fight this war on all fronts. Having these guys come aboard helps us work together better."
The troops on the ground send IKE information on how they'll move.
"We translate it so the pilots in the air have a better idea about what's going on below them," said Collins.
The GLOs help more than IKE pilots. They coordinate IKE's efforts with about 30 other coalition countries.
"We're kind of out there talking to the whole force," said Elias.
The coordination between countries unifies the efforts of the coalition forces as a symbol of the phrase, "one team, one fight."
"It provides a good insight into how coalition forces should work together, especially U.S. Forces," said Ortiz. "It's not a one force fight."
Harp feels that each service brings a different capability, and IKE's ability to move around and help a mission where it's needed is a valuable asset.
"It (our mission) would not be as successful as it has been lately without IKE in theater," said Harp.
The GLOs are able to assist the strike group because of the experience they've gained throughout their time on the ground.
The GLOs provide feedback from the ground on how the mission went. Along with progress reports, Collins and Eilas have a chance to share the troops' appreciation for what the IKE Strike Group does.
"The response is so strong that if it was up to them, the carrier would stay for support," said Collins. "Several times now, we've heard that the pilots on this air wing have been the angels on their shoulders."
For every ounce of appreciation the GLOs pass on to the Sailors, IKE pilots return the same amount of respect.
"We get both sides," said Collins. "The ground troops tell us they love what they (pilots) did, and they turn around and tell the ground guys, 'whatever you need, we'll get it for you.'"
Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 is currently providing close air support, shows of force and reconnaissance missions in support of troops on the ground participating in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).
CVW-7 includes the "Tigertails" of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 125, the "Jolly Rogers" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 103, the "Wildcats" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131, the "Pukin' Dogs" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 143, the "Rampagers" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 83, the "Patriots" of Electronic Attack (VAQ) Squadron 140, the "Nightdippers" of Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron (HS) 5, and the "Rawhides" of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 40.
IKE is the flagship for the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, which includes its embarked air wing, CVW-7, and embarked Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 28; guided-missile cruiser USS Anzio (CG 68); guided-missile destroyer USS Ramage (DDG 61); guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87); and the fast attack submarine USS Newport News (SSN 750), all homeported in Norfolk, Va.
The IKE CSG departed Naval Station Norfolk on Oct. 3 for a regularly scheduled deployment in support of maritime security operations and entered the Commander, Fifth Fleet area of operations on Oct. 30.