CELEBRATING EIGHT DECADES OF COMBAT CONTROL OPERATIONS,
THESE ARE SOME OF THE NOW DECLASSIFIED STORIES OF CCT GWOT OPERATIONS.
“Almost as soon as the second hijacked 767 struck the south tower of the world trade center, Air Force Combat Controllers began to report to their bases and pack their gear. Spread around the world in special tactics squadrons, these airmen would provide the lightly armed U.S. Army Special Forces teams with a number of capabilities that would turn them into world-class killing machines.”
John D. Gresham
Air Force Combat Controllers at War
CCT - The Eye of the Storm, Volume II – The GWOT Years
Gene Adcock, CMSgt, U.S. Air Force (CCT) Retired
“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”
The Eye of the Storm chronicles the exploits of United States Air Force combat controller teams (CCT). It is told in a series of collected stories - many etched with a cocktail of blood, sweat and tears. The Combat Control story begins in Volume I with the appearance of the first CCTs; command and control teams cobbled together by the U.S. Army Air Corps for Operation Varsity - the airborne invasion of Germany in 1945. In this Volume II, Chapter 1 – ALIBI’S, Adcock brings to light several stories that that should have been in Volume I, but were discovered only after the first book was published. The CCT story continues in Volume II with details of the 21st Century fight in the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). Two Humanitarian Missions, of epic proportion – Haiti and Japan - are also covered in detail.
“If history were taught in the form of Stories, it would never be forgotten.”
CCT - The Eye of the Storm is the story of the early years of Combat Control Team operations. CCT - The Eye of the Storm, Volume II continues the history of United States Air Force combat controllers.It concentrates on the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), in Iraq and Afghanistan in the 10-plus year period immediately following the terrorists attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. It features stories about combat operations, combat training, and humanitarian missions during the same timeframe. The contents of this book are unclassified and have been cleared for public release.
To those Combat Controllers whose stories will never be told!
Through our own neglect we've lost them - we deserve better!
To the family members who have lost Combat Controllers;
We will remember - always!
“A dog in the fight is concerned with survival - not history!
History isn’t important - until he's history!”
U.S. GOVERNMENT ARTICLES AND THE PUBLIC DOMAIN
Scores of articles in this book are copied directly from United States Government documents and published articles. The following determination, from Title 17, USC § 105, is provided for those who may question their use. Technically speaking: Title 17 USC §105, Subject Matter Of Copyright: United States Government works, provides that “Copyright protection is not available for any work of the United States Government,” defined in Title 17 USC §101, as “a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties.” Therefore, only those works solely authored by U.S. Federal Government employees are not protected by copyright in the United States.
Or more simply: Federal documents and publications are not copyrighted, and therefore are considered to be in the Public Domain. Consequently, if you obtain a Government document from the net, such as a law, statute, agency circular, federal report, or any other document published or generated by the Federal Government, you are free to copy or distribute the document.
Authority for direct contact with Public Affairs offices granted by Air Force National Media Engagement Office, New York via March 14, 2012 - 322PM email.
Authority and guidance for use of USAF Trademarked and Licensed material granted by Trademark and Licensing Office, Air Force Public Affairs Agency, Lackland AFB, Texas via April 10, 2012 - 1105AM email.
The published version of CCT – The Eye of the Storm and this Volume II, CCT – The Eye of the Storm – The GWOT Yearsare protected by copyright, all rights reserved by the Author.
Much of the data is readily available in the public domain and may be copied from the original source.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
On March 11, 1937, Doris Adcock gave birth to Albert Eugene (Gene) Adcock at the home of her father, Erva Biby. Erva and wife Delphi Biby lived on a small farm, on Route 148, a half-mile south of Christopher, Illinois.
Gene is the only child of two only-children. His father Leon; grandfather's Isaac Adcock and Erva Biby were career coalminers all working at the Bell & Zoller Coal Company in Zeigler, Illinois.
Times were hard during his adolescent years; and, although his dad offered to help him get a job at Bell & Zoller - as soon as he graduated from high school - he didn't recommend it.
Left: A/3C Gene, Basic Training, Lackland AFB, TX - 1955. Right: Gene in full retirement - 2007
Within months after graduation from Christopher Community High School - Class of ’54 - Gene took his father's unspoken advice and enlisted in the Air Force. Still 17, he celebrated his 18th birthday -- on March 11, 1955 -- while in Basic Training at Lackland AFB, Texas.
From basic, A/3C Gene was sent to technical school at Scott AFB, Illinois. At the time Scott was Headquarters, Air Training Command, and the home of the Ground Radio Maintainer course, among others.
In January 1956, A/2C Gene graduated as a ground radio maintainer and was sent to the Shiroi AB, Japan. Shiroi was a highly classified USAF Security Service radio-intercept facility, located about 30 miles east of Tokyo.
In the summer of 1957, A/1C Gene returned to Sewart AFB, Tennessee, home of the 314th Troop Carrier Wing and the 314th Communication Squadron, to which he was assigned. Within a year, Gene volunteered – and was accepted for Combat Control Team assignment, with the 2nd Aerial Port Squadron at Sewart from 1958 to 1963. Over the next 5 years, SSgt Gene concentrated on filling CCT training squares and settled into the job as an operational combat controller. From Sewart, Gene’s combat control career progressed through the following assignments:
1963 – 1966 – 7th Aerial Port Squadron – Tachikawa AB, Japan
1973 – 1975 – 2nd Aerial Port Squadron – Little Rock AFB, Arkansas
1975 – 1977 – Headquarters, Military Airlift Command, Scott AFB, Illinois
MAC IG Team - Combat Control Inspector
On 31 January 1977, Gene retired as a Chief Master Sergeant and immediately entered the civil work force. Over the next 30 years, he was actively involved in the development, marketing and sales of specialty products for combat identification, survival, escape, rescue, evasion, close air support and assault zone operations.
Gene was instrumental in the development and fielding of the Quick Fix Suite of covert, through-sight combat identification devices for Gulf War II. On the cover of this book, you can see two of his innovations. The black and olive American flag and blood type markers are more than they appear. They are actually covert infrared (IR) reflective tabs; they can be detected by the AC-130 and other IR LASER-equipped weapon platforms from ranges out to 5 miles. Hundreds-of-thousands of the IR tabs were fielded by the DOD.
Historically, the American combat fratricide rate had averaged more than 15 percent in all its wars since World War I. As a result of the QuickFixfielding, the U.S. Army, Program Manager for Combat Identification judged the Gulf War II fratricide rate to be less than 2 percent.
Military Awards, Decorations and Certifications
Air Crew Wings – Combat Award
Master Parachute Wings – w / Combat Star
Vietnamese Army Master Parachute Wings
HALO Certified Jumpmaster
Bronze Star Medal w / 1 Oak Leaf Cluster (OLC)
Air Medal w / 5 OLC
Meritorious Service Medal w / 2 OLC
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award w / Combat V and 6 OLC
Scores of Service Medals
Master of Arts, Business Administration, Webster University, St. Louis, Missouri - 1977
Bachelor of Arts, Business and Economics, Park College, Parkville, Missouri - 1975
Associate of Arts, Air Traffic Control Management, Johnson County Community College, Olathe, KS – 1973
Three CCT History Articles – Air Commando Journal – Winter 2011/12
CCT – The Eye of the Storm - O’More Publishing, a division of O’More College of Design, Franklin, Tennessee. ISBN 13 978-0-9822618-3-7. - 2010
Electro-Optical Surveillance - CCS Security Source Library, ISBN 1-884674-00-3, CCS Security Publishing, Ltd. The 700-page encyclopedia describes the physics, construction and operation of image intensified night vision devices and thermal imagery. - 1999.
Owning the Night - Cross Border Control International - 1996
We Own the Night – Night Vision Equipment Company -1993.
Can Electro-Optic Weapons Systems do it all? - Journal of Electronic Defense - 1986.
Beacon Bombing – Still a Viable Option - National Defense Journal - 1985.
Precision Search and Rescue – Motorola’s - Government Electronics Group – 1984.
ABOUT THE COVER
Combat controllers from the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, Pope AFB, North Carolina pose in the classic circle-the-wagons (command and control element)formation, on a drop zone at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
In combat operations, combat controllers operate at the eye of the storm; i.e., they are the airhead-air-traffic-control (AATC) element directing the vertical envelopment of the targeted combat area. Typically, the CCT control element is dispersed in low profile fitted with body armor and not clean as shown on the cover. In a real-world operation, the CCT may consist of a 12 to 18-man team (for landing zone/airfield operations) or be deployed singly (attached to sister-service special operations force for covert operations). Shown on the cover is only the airhead-air-traffic-control element; other team members are unseen -- but are nearby – forming a security perimeter.
This book would not have been possible without the assistance of scores of authors who supported the project, some knowingly, others unwittingly. To each of you, I express my sincere thanks and deepest gratitude. Your contributions were instrumental in documenting the never-before-told history of Air Force Combat Control Teams.
My thanks also to the U.S. Air Force units and agencies who supported this project with their approvals and technical direction.
My heartfelt thanks goes to the hundreds of dedicated Combat Controllers; combat control enthusiasts and military historians who bought my first book – CCT – The Eye of the Storm, the de facto Volume One in this series of historical digests.
To the scores of Combat Controllers who fought in the GWOT; during Operation Iraqi Freedom; Operation Enduring Freedom and other undisclosed operations. This book would not have been possible without your blood, sweat and tears.
And finally, a special tribute to family members of Combat Controllers; brave men all who paid for our enduring freedom with their precious lives. This book is dedicated to those airmen who will never read its words, but will always be remembered in its pages. HOOYAH!
FOREWORD As I recall, it was the summer of 2002 when I had the privilege of awarding the Purple Heart to MSgt Alan Yoshida, USAF, for the severe wounds he sustained in combat as a Combat Controller in Afghanistan. He was to go on to receive many medals for his outstanding performance of duty against the Taliban, all well deserved. But, he was also to do something very different; to be a very key part of a team of Airmen in understanding the new technology needs of Combat Controllers in special operations like those employed in Afghanistan. This informal team consisted of civilian and AF scientists, acquisition experts, and combat tested CCT’s. Over the next three years, this team, but especially Alan, focused on identifying capability gaps, surveying American industry for possible solutions, and trying out candidate solutions. Even though it unnerved some in the acquisition community, Alan’s intense focus and, to be honest, the dedicated top cover and resources provided by my partner, (CSAF, General John Jumper) and me made this happen. We didn’t want to wait until the normal bureaucracy “got around to it.” We wanted to make a difference in this conflict, not just the next.
This was the first war where airmen on the ground could call in dramatically precise high explosives from bombers and AF, Navy and Marine Corps fighter aircraft orbiting overhead. Based on ideas already under consideration by the Special Tactics leaders and my own experience with GPS devices, we postulated that we could tie together laser range-finding binoculars, a small computer, a GPS receiver, and a radio to provide fast, relevant and highly accurate targeting data to aircraft. We wanted to replace the “nine line” being written by a pilot on the inside of his canopy with a grease pencil. The initial systems would have to be strung together with the airman being the mini-systems integrator. By using commercial subsystems, we could deploy capability much faster, but we risked unintended consequences.
In Alan’s case, he was controlling aircraft in support of friendly Afghan forces when his colleague came forward to relieve him so that he, Alan, could grab a cup of coffee. His colleague continued the mission, but noticed that the batteries in the GPS unit were dying, and so he replaced them with fresh ones. What he didn’t realize was that the device would reset to its current location, and not to where the curser had been before. This mistake resulted in Alan’s injures when a 2000 pound bomb fell near their own location. Luckily, Alan was low to the ground because he bent over to get some coffee off the fire.
So, the first goal of the innovative team was to organize a Battlefield Airman’s Operations kit, which had the separate components integrated together, and to make it smaller, lighter, and safer. We also found that the individual Combat Controller carried about 135-150 pounds of gear, so the second goal was to lighten this load. By using composite stands for the optical equipment instead of metal, as well as getting smaller versions of other equipment, we were able to reduce the average carrying weight down to 105 pounds, with a longer term goal of getting it down to 85 pounds. Batteries are heavy and something we really didn’t want to scatter about the countryside. So, we experimented with various fuel cells (including one which did just fine burning vodka), thin-film photovoltaic panels, as well as tapping the natural heat of a person’s body. But, in the short run, there was no efficient substitute for batteries. Attention was then turned to searching for new subsystems, which used less power.
Another innovation we sought was to find a way that Combat Controllers who are separated and not visible to each other, but operating together, could not only communicate with each other, but could sense the relative location of each voice. Alan’s team developed a system that transmitted the GPS location of an individual so that a small computer could compare it to the receiver’s location and reproduce the sound with a spatial effect akin to stereophonic music. If your colleague was to your left, the sound in your headphones gave you the sense of his direction.
In another case, I wanted to increase the situational awareness of small units. To do this, we devised the concept of a small UAV which could fit into a CCT’s rucksack, be launched by hand, be GPS guided, fly for about a half an hour with at least one optical sensor streaming video to the CCT’s computer, be able to circle a target of interest as directed by the CCT, and land at a predetermined point. We did this, and even I could fly it (I tested each of the innovations which made Alan’s cut.) Unfortunately, almost immediately after I relinquished my position as SecAF in 2005, the acquisition community took control of this and other of Alan’s programs. It was not until the summer of 2007 that the lumbering process made its choice. The UAV was different to a small degree, but better (you can have either an EO or an IR sensor depending on time of day.) However, Alan and his team had more than an “80% -solution” years earlier. General Mike Ryan used to refer to the Air Force’s “acquisition tyranny” and this was a case to prove him right. The whole sad story is contained in a MIT doctoral dissertation done by an Air Force Systems Engineer.
Why my interest? A number of years before I became the Secretary, during a visit to Israel, I had had a lengthy discussion with a retired Israeli Air Force general who set up a small “think tank” which he named “Longbow.” His thesis was that, like the British at Agincourt, we would be well advised to devote R&D funds to make the individual ground troop (of any variety) as militarily powerful as possible in combat. He would need sensors and weapons and other systems to exploit the remarkable brain that a free man could bring to the fight. Then, the duty of commanders was to devise integrating technologies and systems which permitted these superbly equipped and trained fighting men to operate in concert as a highly integrated team. His belief was that such fighting teams would be incredibly effective in combat.
“At Agincourt many centuries ago, noblemen and peasants alike witnessed the might of a small group of men who brought death and destruction from above against enemy foot soldiers and armored knights. These dedicated and well-trained men with their Longbows were the key to Henry V’s defeat of the French that day, even though he was greatly outnumbered.” “Air Force Special Tactics Combat Controllers are today’s Longbow fighters. Individually, they are specially selected, specially trained, and, in support of special operations, almost daily bring American airpower to bear on our nation’s enemies. Indeed, they are very remarkable warriors, and this book will help many understand why so many of us hold our Combat Controllers in such incredibly high regard.” I was convinced that he was right, and once I understood the remarkable talent contained in Special Tactics, I recognized that there were such teams in our Air Force. The question, then, was how to make them even better. I did my best to bring my belief to anyone in the leadership of the U.S. Air Force who would listen, and in Generals John Jumper and Paul Hester I found kindred spirits. My determination that airmen like Alan Yoshida should have the very best in technology to match their superlative training and culture drove me, as did my heart-wrenching duty to join John Jumper in presenting two Air Force Crosses to the widows of a Combat Controller and a Special Tactics Pararescueman.
I have been privileged to work with Alan and other wonderful airmen to make Special Tactics even better. I also am proud that, in cooperation with some wonderful AFSOC Commanders, we have been able to build a new Combat Control School and a separate Special Tactics School.
Special Tactics is a significant addition to the Special Forces of the United States, as is AFSOC more generally. These unique warriors permit small units to operate very effectively without having to haul massive firepower with them. They need only turn to the Combat Controller in their team; not long thereafter the Heavens will rain down precise and dramatic firepower on the enemy.
Can you imagine my sorrow, then, to see some of our best cadets at the Air Force Academy switch Services to join Navy SEAL teams because most of them knew nothing about our Air Commandos? But, on one trip to the Academy, my aide, Major (now Colonel) “RA” Armfield was approached by a Cadet and asked questions about what he was and what he did. RA “saved” this Cadet, and he now also proudly wears the red beret. The stories of our fellow airmen who make up AFSOC and Special Tactics should be required reading for every cadet in Colorado Springs and at every AFROTC unit!
LCDR James G. Roche Dr. James G. Roche
Commanding Officer Secretary of the
USS Buchanan (DDG-14) United States Air Force
1973 - 1974 2001 - 2005
James G. Roche, Secretary of the Air Force #20
Combat Control Association Honorary Life Member #4
INTRODUCTION It is my honor and privilege to introduce Gene’s second volume of CCT history. I cannot fathom an individual more uniquely qualified to author to this historical continuation of the Combat Control history. Gene is a master historian having studied the U.S. Air Force Combat Control career field from its inception to today.
More to the point, Gene Adcock is not only a researcher - he’s a doer. Firsthand, he has experienced the horrors of combat, the sometimes mind-numbing boredom suddenly interrupted with jags of adrenalin -- and the sadness for teammates who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Gene speaks with moral authority, the rare but necessary “I was there” credibility.
He has also endured challenges of a wholly-other nature: Air Force leaders with no concept of what I consider to be the Air Force’s most demanding career field. Gene has experienced organizational mismanagement, archaic tactics directed from on-high, and hand-me-down equipment. Not that many years ago, the Air Force literally ate its young from this career field. Mid-level managers and leaders, in order to progress up the promotional ladder, were forced to cross-train to other specialties at precisely the point at which they’d reached the height of their experience and knowledge.
Thankfully and fortunately for our nation and my Air Force, that is no longer the case.
Over a half century I’ve closely observed the highs and lows faced by combat controllers. I’ve also repeatedly asked myself, “Where do we get these exquisite individuals?” Because of visionaries like Gene and his comrades, today’s combat controller represents the best-trained, best equipped, and most patriotic airmen and officers found in any military service.
On military installations today, it is common to see senior non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and officers proudly wearing their red berets and bloused jump boots (symbols of the pride and professionalism which separates them from their peers). Two combat controllers wear the stars of general officers; an impossible thought just twenty years ago. In spite of the challenges they’ve endured over the last 55 years, US Air Force combat controllers have always represented the very best this great country has to offer.
An extremely difficult Special Tactics Team selection course is held at the U.S. Army Ranger camp at Dahlonega, GA. To get this far you have to have already proved yourself mentally and physically. Combat Controllers and Pararescuemen (PJ) must join other service teams, such as SEALS, Special Forces, and Rangers, in small numbers. Normally, these closely-knit units don’t welcome outsiders warmly into their special fraternity.
I once asked the selection psychiatrist what he looked for in Air Force candidates to this highly specialized career field. He said “A bit of a used car salesman.” They come in, as outsiders and they must be better physically, professionally, and socially. Today, you would be hard pressed to find any sister service team that wants to go into combat without their Air Force brethren.
Ironically, hardships and adversities have drawn this special fraternity closer. Excessive tasking and long periods of family separation still force the decision: “It is either my family or my profession.” That choice is clearly understandable.
I can’t help but recall Thomas Wolfe’s book, The Right Stuff. He said, “In the 50s it was difficult for civilians to comprehend such a thing, but military officers and enlisted men tended to feel superior to civilians. It was really quite ironic given the fact that for a good thirty years the rising business class in cities has been steering their sons away from the military, as if from a bad smell. The (officer and enlisted) corps had never been held in lower esteem. Well, their contempt was returned in trumps. They looked upon themselves as men who lived by higher standards of behavior than civilians, as men who were bearers and protectors -of the most important values of American life, who maintained a sense of discipline while civilians abandoned themselves to hedonism, who maintained a sense of honor while civilians lived by opportunism and greed. When the showdowns come—and the showdowns always come – not all the wealth in the world or all the sophisticated weapons and radar and missile systems it could buy would take the place of those who had the uncritical willingness to face danger, those who in short had the RIGHT STUFF.”*
I’ve lived through the “If it feels good do it” era of the ‘60s, and the “I want it now” generation of the 70s and 80s. Sadly, today’s average citizen is worried more about their 401K than the heroes who are risking it all to preserve America’s freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Thankfully, the military forces of the 21st century are held in much greater esteem than my comrades and me when we came home from Southeast Asia.
An inescapable fact of the American culture lies in the fact that as a people we have a short attention span. We have little reliance on lessons of the past and have tremendous impatience. President Harry Truman said, “The only thing we don’t know about the future is the history we have forgotten.”* We will make the same mistakes. We will pay for them in huge outlay of dollars and worst, the loss of life.
On a closing note, I join my comrades in the Special Tactics profession in honoring two past Secretaries of the Air Force who recognized a diamond when they saw it and took action to provide leadership, resources, and support - the Honorable Whitten F. Peters and Dr. James G. Roche. General Duane H. Cassidy, Commander-in-Chief, Military Airlift Command, approved the reorganization of Combat Controllers and Pararescuemen into a Special Tactics Group and several Squadrons.
These units were trained and equipped to sprint to the sound of battle. After 9/11, response was immediate. They were on their way before the smoke cleared in New York and at the Pentagon. I cannot imagine the deficit we would have faced without the organization, training, equipment, and recruitment ensured by the above visionaries. The results speak for themselves.
My prayer is that this Volume II of TheEye of the Storm will rewwake America to a special brotherhood within. The combat controllers are a fraternity that has written, and continues to write, truly unique and heroic chapters in American military history.
Bob Patterson, Major General, USAF, Retired
Combat Control Association Honorary Life Member #5
Ubon AC-130 Pilot 1970 AFSOC Commander 1989
Major General Robert B. Patterson – At retirement, General Patterson was Commander of Military Airlift Command’s 23rd Air Force, Hurlburt Field, Florida and Commander of Air Force Special Operations Command. He entered the Air Force in August 1956 and received his pilot’s wings at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma, in October 1957. He is a command pilot with more than 9,600 flying hours and 293 combat hours. He has flown 44 types of aircraft. He was promoted to major general on September 1, 1984, with date of rank of March 1, 1981.
General Patterson's strategic thinking was critical, especially after the birth of the unified U.S. Special Operations Command. For the first time, CONUS-based special operations forces of the Army, Navy and Air Force were unified under one joint commander. The 23 AF served a dual role – still reporting to MAC while also functioning as the air component to USSOCOM. In July 1987, General Patterson issued a statement concerning his understanding of the new relationship among MAC, USSOCOM, other unified commands and Headquarters 23 AF. Historians recorded this as the most definitive directive concerning command relationships issued by HQs 23 AF. It was this document that informally designated General Patterson’s air component as the Air Force Special Operations Command. His leadership made a lasting impact on AFSOC’s organizational structure and how it fits in with USSOCOM and the rest of the Air Force today.
At his retirement ceremony at Hurlburt Field in October 1989, General Duane H. Cassidy, Commander in Chief, Military Airlift Command recognized General Patterson, as “the best field commander in the Air Force.” Combat Controllers who know him wholeheartedly agree.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TITLE PAGE i
U.S. GOVERNMENT ARTICLES & THE PUBLIC DOMAIN iii
ABOUR THE AUTHOR iv
ABOUT THE COVER v
INTRODUCTION ix CHAPTER 1
ALIBI’S THE DAWN OF AIR FORCE COMBAT CONTROL TEAMS
SECRET OPERATION ROAD GRADER – KASHMIR
THE SECRET IS OUT: U.S. BASE ISN'T SECRET ANY MORE