19th BCD re-deploys home to Ramstein

Chief Warrant Officer Three John A. Robinson
19th Battlefield Coordination Detachment

The 19th Battlefield Coordination Detachment returned to Ramstein
recently, after a one-year deployment to the Central Command Air
Forces’ Combined Air Operations Center in Southwest Asia.  

The Soldiers reflected on a year’s worth of experiences – charged with
the unique mission of coordination of air support for ground forces of
operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, during which they were
responsible for coordinating air strikes in the Global War on Terrorism

“Our job was to translate green-speak to Blue-speak,” said Lt. Col.
Carl Giles, plans chief. “We’ve been the liaison between ground forces
that need airpower and air forces that can provide that air power.”

The translating went both ways.
“I would explain Army and Marine Corps terminology and missions to my
air operations counterparts, which would help the air component plan
and synchronize their crew schedules,” said Sgt. 1st Class Timothy
Evans, operations NCO. “Then we would relay the air plan back to the
ground components.”

The BCD embeds Soldiers throughout the CAOC, in order to seamlessly
integrate all facets of ground operations with ongoing air operations.

“We were helping the air intelligence community better understand the
ground picture, so they could provide better support,” said Maj. Marion
Johnson, acting intelligence chief.  “Many of the air intelligence
personnel come from positions other than those they are tasked to work
in the ISRD (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Division)
for the duration of their 120-day deployment.”  

“We’re there for a year, while most of the air folks rotate in for
shorter periods,” added Spc. Joseph Lucketta, intelligence analyst. “We
provide the continuity between one AEF rotation and the next.”

Overall, BCD Soldiers were uniform in their appreciation for the
opportunity to work in a combined and joint environment. The CENTAF
CAOC has ample representation from the four sister services, as well as
numerous coalition allies.

“It’s great to work in a combined environment,” said Sgt. 1st Class
Timothy Werstein, NCO in charge of airlift. “It’s clearly the wave of
the future.”  

The uniqueness of the BCD mission extended to the coordination of all airspace for both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We accommodated the counterinsurgency environments by integrating Army
and Air Force needs into a seamless service for all,” said Capt. Bill
Pontes, airspace chief. “What’s more, we had to integrate civilian air
traffic needs into the plan for Iraq and help integrate their growing
Air Force. The balance we created is helping them to create their own
version of our FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] and has easily
saved millions of dollars in the process.”

The volumes of lessons learned won’t be cast aside, now that the BCD has re-deployed.  

“We look forward to sharing this valuable learning experience with
USAREUR and USAFE (U.S. Air Forces in Europe) units,” said Col. Jim
Waring, BCD commander.  “We’ve already begun, by supporting the V
Corps train-ups, as they prepare to take the next mission in OIF. Right
now, we’re looking forward to reintegrating with our supported air
component, the 32nd Air Operations Group, here at Ramstein.”