606th ACS role is air control

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Ryan Macri would normally be assigned to a base communication squadron with his fellow radio frequency transmission Airmen.

But here at Spangdahlem, while he still works on radios, he is an essential part of the 606th Air Control Squadron.

Like Macri, many Airmen in his squadron would be in different ones, but are assigned to the 606th ACS to complete one mission: air control.

This mission may sound simple, but air control is more than watching the skies above. It involves actively monitoring the radar, communicating up-to-date information to aircrew and making sure aircraft (American and allied pilots) safely get to their target without flying into each other's air space, often from an austere environment.

And like his fellow Airmen, Macri said he appreciates being assigned to the only ACS of its kind in Europe.

"I think it's very unique because we are able to provide the overall communication to allow the pilots to do their job," he said.

The 606th ACS provides highly trained professionals and superior equipment to execute rapid, tailored command and control, and provide constant forward battle management presence to any contingency according to U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Scottie Wilson, 606th ACS superintendent.

The more the 300 Airmen assigned to more than 21 specialties make up the self-contained mobile combat air control unit and maintain more than $170 million worth of equipment to provide combatant commanders a forward presence, where they are needed.

When in garrison, 606th ACS Airmen train daily to ensure the highest levels of proficiency and readiness. From maintaining equipment to running inspections, Airmen make sure they not only are ready to deploy, but are equipped and trained, too.

Their expertise has been called upon on several occasions, including two deployments to southwest Asia to provide air defense for the Arabian Gulf in 2008 and 2010. Additionally, the squadron deployed to Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan, four times since 2006. The squadron has also participated in several joint exercises, including a Polish-led exercise EAGLE TALON. During all these missions, the 606th ACS ensured American and NATO allied aircraft could fly and fight together in the same air space.

Three sections comprise the squadron: mission support, communication maintenance and operations.

The mission support section works the entire in-garrison leg work and coordination to prepare the squadron to deploy including logistics that go along with it. The section also maintains the generators, heating, air conditioning equipment, vehicles and more.

The communication maintenance section will, upon arrival, setup and maintain the communication equipment, which the operation section uses to talk to pilots in the air and other agencies to provide air control.

Without one section, the other two can't complete their mission.

Airmen said they never question being assigned to the only air control squadron in Europe.

With such a vast squadron and a variety of tasks Airmen accomplish every day, their squadron's dedication doesn't go unnoticed.

"It is very humbling to see so much effort go into what we do--the guys and gals we have in the unit are amazing," said Lt. Col. Robert Long, 606th ACS commander. "Watching them work and seeing the technical expertise and knowledge at what they do is amazing even at such a young age."