March 3, 2017

It’s all about the hooks

Commentary and photo by Master Sgt. Benjamin Wilson
407th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs

SOUTHWEST ASIA — High above Mosul, Iraq, a fighter pilot arrives on station.

Now within 20 nautical miles of the target, the pilot arms the weapons on board and checks in with a joint terminal attack controller, identifying the call sign, position and combat load of munitions.

The pilot can see explosions, small arms fire and artillery lighting up the banks of the Tigris River as Iraqi security forces battle Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists below.

The JTAC responds with a situation update. Surface to air threats, recently struck targets and locations of known friendly forces are among the information passed to the pilot. A nine-line close air support briefing is used to pass along all the essential information – heading, distance, target elevation, target description, etc.

The pilot confirms the most pertinent information and presses fire.

The hooks release.

Everything leading up to that moment was designed to ensure the situation was exactly right to have the aircraft’s hooks release a munition and put a bomb on target.

However, it took much more to get the pilot on station over the battle.

If the communications Airman had not updated the cryptography codes, the pilot could not have communicated with the JTAC.

The hooks don’t release.

If an Airman at the dining facility served the pilot under-cooked meat, he or she could fall ill during flight.

The hooks don’t release.

If the electricity goes out, the operational order can’t be delivered through the secure network. If the contracting Airman doesn’t order the liquid oxygen supply, the jets will be grounded. If the pharmacy technician doesn’t give the proper medicine to the pilot, he or she can’t fly.

The hooks don’t release.

Every Airman, however close to or far from the flightline, is working toward one singular goal – generating, executing and sustaining combat airpower.

Each person on the installation does that differently by performing the duties required by his or her Air Force specialty, but the mission could not be accomplished effectively without every organization working in sync with all the others.

Regardless of the duty an Airman is currently performing, we should never lose sight of why we are here. The enemy is a vicious and hateful one, whom we have been charged with permanently eradicating. The way we do that is to ensure the conditions are right at any given moment to put bombs on target.

In the words of Col. David Lyons, 407th Air Expeditionary Group commander, “It’s all about the hooks.”

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