Expeditionary battle management operators: Right info, right time

During lightning-fast air combat, every decision makes an impact, and for 71st Expeditionary Air Control Squadron command and control battle management operators at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia, choosing the right aircraft for the right mission is just another day on the job. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton)

During lightning-fast air combat, every decision makes an impact, and for 71st Expeditionary Air Control Squadron command and control battle management operators at the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing in Southwest Asia, choosing the right aircraft for the right mission is just another day on the job. (U.S. Air Force photo illustration/Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton)

UNDISCLOSED LOCATION -- During lightning-fast air combat, every decision makes an impact, and for 71st Expeditionary Air Control Squadron command and control battle management operators here, choosing the right aircraft for the right mission is just another day on the job.

"If our ground forces need air support, we send it," said Senior Airman Jamar, a 71st EACS weapons director and Burlington, N.J., native.

When a call for support comes in, Jamar said, they usually come from tactical air control parties and joint terminal attack controllers on the ground. These JTACs and TACPs are coordinating with ground commanders to ensure specific ordnance or bombs are delivered on target.

Therefore, 71st EACS airmen are essentially the brain of the operation sending aircraft to where they're needed most.

"We get aircraft to the area so JTACs can tell them (the aircrews) what they need," said Senior Master Sgt. Aramis, a 71st EACS weapons director and Fresno, Calif., native. "What we do is all in support of ground commanders and getting them the right resources as quickly as possible."

And while the C2BMOs are directing traffic, 71st EACS surveillance technicians, like Airman 1st Class Rianna Ly, are making sure aircrews always have the right targets.

"Knowing where the enemy is, how many there are, what they're doing, how they're supplied and what kind of support they have can give our forces a distinct edge," Rianna Ly said, who hails from Yigo, Guam. "We use this data to build information for the controllers and JTACs making sure our guys aren't in the area while aircrews are dropping bombs."

The success of a mission can hinge on having the right information at the right time, said Senior Master Sgt. Curtis, the 71st EACS operations superintendent. Serving as the information hub and brain center for all air assets supporting ground units in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility may seem like a big task, but Curtis said his crew does it with grace.

"I am extremely proud of my airmen," said Curtis, who is a Carlisle, Penn., native. "The responsibility we give these young airmen is pretty amazing and they've undertaken these monumental tasks without a sweat."

These Airmen also gain expertise as they work alongside their allied military forces counterparts from countries including Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.

"It's a great continued opportunity to solidify our training, tactics, techniques and procedures with some of our closest allies," Aramis said. "We're making our partnerships stronger for future conflicts."

Curtis, Aramis, Rianna Ly and Jamar are all deployed from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. The 71st EACS is a home away from home for airmen deployed from 10 different bases, multiple major commands, worldwide.

"Without us, it'd be the wild west out there," said Curtis.

"And there's nothing I'd rather be doing," Jamar added.