DFC ‘forward deploys’ with Soldiers for RED FLAG-Alaska 16-2

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel
  • 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The deployed forces commander in charge of RED FLAG-Alaska 16-2 “forward deployed” to observe U.S. Army involvement along with close air support June 8 in the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex.

It was the first time in six years a DFC visited the field to take in first-hand operations from the ground while air assets provided overwatch and air-to-ground fire.

“I have a lot of experience giving close air support, but being out here seeing what our Army joint partners are doing is outstanding,” said Virginia Air National Guard Col. Patrick McAtee, the 192nd Operations Group commander, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., serving on temporary duty as the DFC for RF-A 16-2. “This is the perfect opportunity to see full spectrum how our air and ground assets are working flawlessly to bring the fight to the enemy.”

He explained that situational experience from the air and ground are a completely different spectrum with varying obstacles and threats.

With the tempo of training, the scenario provided an opportunity to stop, gain perspective and obtain an overall look as an operation played out.

“As an artilleryman and maneuvering soldier who takes orders, often from afar, it has been a valuable experience having the commander visit the forward deployed location,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Jack Wilson, a liaison officer from the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, Fort Wainwright, Alaska. “With the knowledge we gained from exchanging tactics we can develop future plans to improve movements, safety and effective integration of air and ground power.”

While tactical gain was developed during the visit, McAtee endured the rain, wind and mud side-by-side with the Soldiers he supports with air power.

“Their professionalism is the most impressive thing I’ve seen here,” McAtee said. “Every single one of them knows where they are supposed to be, exactly what they are doing and they are all about the mission. They are laser focused on conducting these operations. Its impressive to watch when this team gets going – they are unstoppable regardless of the circumstances.”