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606th Airmen deploy throughout CENTCOM/AFRICOM

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cory W. Bush
  • 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Approximately 140 personnel from the 606th Air Control Squadron deployed throughout U.S. Central and Africa Commands in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, throughout early October from Aviano Air Base, Italy.

The 606th ACS is a mobile, tactical unit capable of forward deploying Tactical Command and Control capabilities to pair assets, orient shooters and drastically decrease communication delays for coalition aircraft in the sky.

The 606th is the only ACS operating under U.S. Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa and is comprised of more than 300 Airmen from 25 different Air Force specialty codes. The unit is sending an Airman from nearly every AFSC on this deployment.

While deployed, Airmen are responsible for the safety of friendly targets and identification of hostile targets in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and the Arabian Gulf region.

“The 606th has a broad and unique mission which requires a lot of coordination from a bounty of different professions,” said Capt. Bryce Hardt, 606th Air Control Squadron air battle manager, “ACSs are the most diverse units in the Air Force because they have multiple specialties under one roof with one mission at hand.”

The unique combat capabilities of the 606th ACS keep the unit in high-demand. Because of this, Airmen have to be warfighter ready at all times.

“With only three active-duty ACSs in the Air Force, we get called upon a lot,” said Hardt. “With a constant rotation of deployments, our Airmen have to be up-to-date with required training. Being warfighter ready at all times ensures we’re equipped and mobile.”

In order to fulfill these responsibilities on the battlefield, 606th ACS Airmen spent months in preparation on the homefront performing a great deal of training.

“When we’re not deployed or supporting the 31st Fighter Wing mission, our Airmen train for the next rotation,” said Staff Sgt. Bryanna Irizarry, 606th Air Control Squadron weapons director. “Our Airmen also temporarily deploy to receive additional trainings and participate in exercises such as ‘Red Flag’, which implement real-world situations our Airmen will see in hostile environments.”

Additionally, Airmen took part in simulations on a new radar system which uses real-world scenarios.

“The introduction of the new TYQ23-A system is going to greatly improve the continuity and decrease the amount of turnover once in the deployed location,” said Irizarry. “This system is the closest to the one used downrange called the BC3T “Battlespace Command Control Center Theater”, making the transition a lot smoother.”

Each of the operators took part in at least 11 real-world simulations using prior mission data from the theater to emulate real world operations. Airmen were able to learn and adapt as the simulations progressed and missions got harder.

“What our job and mission requires is consistently changing,” said Irizarry. “Our biggest conflict in theater is the shear amount of nations who are involved,” said Irizarry. “Each nation is competing for airspace and our job is to ensure the mission is completed and our men and women return safely.”