By Mindy Campbell, U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern Public Affairs April 5, 2012
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- Under a sunny blue sky, three 19th Battlefield Coordination Detachment Soldiers were welcomed home with shouts of cheers and banners by friends, family and coworkers.
The Soldiers recently returned from a year-long deployment as Ground Liaison Officers, where they served in locations such as Kandahar, Bagram, Qatar and aboard various U.S. Navy carriers. Another 19th BCD Soldier, also a GLO, arrived home a few days before.
GLOs are Army combat arms officers and fire support noncommissioned officers who support designated Air Force squadrons, forward deployed wing headquarters, airlift wings and numbered air forces. They advise Air Force personnel on Army organization, operations, tactics, capabilities and equipment as well as assisting in coordinating Army units during joint operations, said Lt. Col. Brian Ettrich, 19th BCD deputy commander.
The four 19th BCD Soldiers operated in support of several Air Force squadrons' operations, he said.
"While ensuring their supported fighter or bomber squadron had 24/7 ground liaison coverage, their primary role was to provide liaison between ground combat units requesting close air support and the fighter pilots tasked to provide this key enabler," Ettrich said.
The GLO role helps illustrate the 19th BCD's mission, which is to facilitate the synchronization of air and ground operations as well as the exchange of information between air and ground force commanders, Ettrich said.
"Our GLOs, albeit at the tactical level, are an extension of the BCD," Ettrich said. "They serve as a vital link between supported ground force operations and squadron fighter pilots, ensuring that the two entities are synergistically linked in their efforts to bring joint combat power to bear against enemy forces on the battlefield."
With their return, the Soldiers will now participate in a seven-day reintegration program that was coordinated with several U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern agencies. Following that, they will have about 30 days of block leave and in the spring attend a "Strong Bonds" retreat with their spouses.
For Elizabeth McShea, whose husband Maj. Brendan McShea just returned, deployments are never easy. In the 10 years they have been married, McShea's husband has deployed three times.
"All deployments are hard, but it was definitely lonelier going through this one as part of a small group," McShea said.
One very good thing about living in an overseas military community, though, is that your friends quickly become like family, McShea said.
"Even if they're not in the midst of a deployment themselves, they've all been there before," she said. "They know what you're going through and they generally will move heaven and earth to help you out."
Despite the fact that only a few Soldiers deployed from the unit, the 19th BCD gave enormous support to the spouses, McShea said.
"I feel a special bond with the ladies of Team 19, who have been an amazing support system to me this past year," McShea said. "I could always count on them to lift my spirits when they were down and to make me laugh until my sides hurt."
Fellow spouse Suzi Eckhart agreed.
"The 19th really rallied around us during this deployment," Exchart said. "From little things like being personally invited via telephone to unit functions to the huge amount of support given through our coffee group and book club, I never felt alone and my 19th family truly enriched my life during my husband's absence."