Air Control: A team effort

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Chad Warren
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

In a building covered with countless antennae and surrounded by barbed wire, a group of Airmen work around the clock to provide radar surveillance, allowing for coordination of aircraft movements and airspace availability.

The 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron in Southwest Asia, also known as Kingpin, is composed of U.S. and coalition partners who monitor activity in the airspace surrounding the area of responsibility.

“This diverse team places aircraft, fuel and weapons in the right place at the right time to bring combat air power to bear in Syria, Iraq, the Arabian Gulf and Afghanistan,” the 727th EACS director of operations said.

Members from the 727th EACS also work closely with their mission partners, including the Airborne Warning and Control System Airmen from the 968th Airborne Air Control Squadron and Soldiers from the Air Defense Artillery here.

According to the director of operations, the team is composed of members from the active-duty Air Force, Air National Guard, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, Royal Air Force of the United Kingdom, Royal Australian Air Force and Royal Danish Air Force.

“They bring a breadth of knowledge and expertise which serves as a true force multiplier,” a 727th EACS multi-national team member said. “With only three active-duty Control and Reporting Centers in the Air Force, there is absolutely no way the 727th EACS could perform its mission in three distinct areas of responsibility without the assistance of the Danes, Aussies, and Brits.”

On top of the importance of their day-to-day job as controllers, the current rotation has another challenge: their home unit is in the middle of a geographic change.

The majority of the current Kingpin team is deployed from the 606th Air Control Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. Though the unit is no stranger to deployments, this will be their last one before the squadron’s relocation to Aviano Air Base, Italy, in a move driven by the European Infrastructure Consolidation announced by U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa in early 2015. With a large portion of the unit deployed and moving stressors at home station, there are added challenges on both the Airmen here and the members of the unit back home.

“Not only do we face the logistical problem of moving mission-related equipment and building an entirely new infrastructure with less than half the people, the families and loved ones face a looming PCS right on the heels of a six-month deployment,” the team member said. “This will be one of the most difficult challenges of most of our careers.”

Despite their challenges, the Airmen were able to integrate and get trained up on the local procedures in time to take over the mission and provide coverage with no mission degradation.

According to the director, keeping the logistics of the move going smoothly back home while a large portion of their manpower is deployed is a challenge, but the unit as a whole has more than met the task.

“The deployed Airmen have really stepped up and prioritized mission accomplishment,” he said. “Morale is high because they have trust in the personnel and leadership still in Europe to complete the move and prepare our new home at Aviano. The careful planning and teamwork by everyone in the unit is allowing us to handle this just as another deployment and PCS.”

EDITOR’S NOTE—The names of the Airmen have been removed.