606th ACS supports OEF

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- If you have ever attended an assembly of 52nd Fighter Wing Sabers, it's likely you've heard the proud rallying call, "Who you with? 606th! What's your role? Air Control!" But, did you wonder who they were and what they did? 

The 606th Air Control Squadron is a rapidly deployable control and reporting center capable of performing multiple missions in support of theater commanders. This includes air battle execution, wide-area surveillance and identification, and deployed radar operations. 

Airmen from the 606th ACS recently returned from two simultaneous four-month deployments to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility using the skills and training necessary to accomplish these missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and the air defense of the Arabian Gulf. 

Lt. Col. Gary Dawson, 606th ACS director of operations, led a large element of squadron communications, maintenance and operations specialists while deployed to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, as the 73rd Expeditionary Air Control Squadron. 

In less than two months, these dedicated Airmen completed the daunting task of constructing two deployed radar sites, which included living quarters, work centers and force protection measures, in addition to the radar equipment on the air field. Despite the harsh conditions, incessant construction equipment failures and the continuous threat of mortar attacks, the enthusiastic men and women were able to complete site preparations two weeks early. 

This paved the way for another group of 606th ACS Airmen to assume their assigned mission more than 1,000 miles away. 

Deployed as the 71st Expeditionary Air Control Squadron, and joined by the 128th Air Control Squadron from Volk Field, Wis., operations people from the 606th ACS were responsible for transferring the air battle execution mission in eastern Afghanistan for OEF from the Royal Australian air force before July 15. 

This was the first time the CRC deployed radar capability was executed at such a great distance and the first time most of the Airmen deployed with the Air Force's newest battle management platform, the Battlespace Command and Control Center, or BC3. 

The BC3 is an enormous improvement over the 606th ACS's legacy equipment. 

Capable of persistent command and control with local and remote sensors, the BC3 allowed the 71st EACS to receive real-time radar data from multiple coalition sensor systems around the AOR, giving them a full view of the entire region. Most importantly, it allowed the 71st EACS Airmen to assume the OEF air battle execution mission while continuing wide-area surveillance and identification mission of more than 187,000 square miles throughout the Arabian Gulf region, keeping the AOR safe from hostile aircraft. 

The highlight of the deployment for many 606th ACS Airmen came in late August, the week leading up to the Afghanistan presidential elections. The 71st EACS, supported by the 73rd EACS, conducted more than 150 troops-in-contact missions, helped deliver millions of pounds of gas to fighter and high-value airborne aircraft, and provided a single integrated air picture to the Combined Air Operations Center for senior command situational awareness. 

There was a shared sense of accomplishment knowing our unit had supported coalition Soldiers on the ground, Airmen in the skies, and in some way, helped the people of Afghanistan become free and democratic, aiding in the end to the tyranny of terrorism.