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Battlefield Airmen in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom

Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) talking on the radio in support of a U.S. Army Special Forces team in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) talking on the radio in support of a U.S. Army Special Forces team in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Air Force JTAC (right) with 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper, calling in a humanitarian assistance airdrop in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Air Force JTAC (right) with 82nd Airborne Division paratrooper, calling in a humanitarian assistance airdrop in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Air Force JTAC (foreground) on foot patrol with soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Air Force JTAC (foreground) on foot patrol with soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Air Force PJ (center) talking to a U.S. military pilot (left) he helped rescue in southern Iraq in April 2003. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Air Force PJ (center) talking to a U.S. military pilot (left) he helped rescue in southern Iraq in April 2003. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Staff Sgt. Jason Beyer, a Special Operations Weather Team member, escorts the first civilian aircraft to land on the commercial runway at Baghdad International Airport on April 24, 2003. Its cargo was Red Cross personnel and medical supplies. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Staff Sgt. Jason Beyer, a Special Operations Weather Team member, escorts the first civilian aircraft to land on the commercial runway at Baghdad International Airport on April 24, 2003. Its cargo was Red Cross personnel and medical supplies. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Pararescuemen transport a wounded soldier to medical care at Bashur Airfield in northern Iraq in April 2003. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Pararescuemen transport a wounded soldier to medical care at Bashur Airfield in northern Iraq in April 2003. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Air Force JTAC scanning the rooftops for snipers during a pre-dawn raid in Fallujah, Iraq, in November 2003. The photo was taken through night vision goggles. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Air Force JTAC scanning the rooftops for snipers during a pre-dawn raid in Fallujah, Iraq, in November 2003. The photo was taken through night vision goggles. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Two members of an Air Force Tactical Air Control Party accompany Army 82nd Airborne Division soldiers on a foot patrol through an arms market in Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Two members of an Air Force Tactical Air Control Party accompany Army 82nd Airborne Division soldiers on a foot patrol through an arms market in Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Combat Controller performing air traffic control procedures to establish and evaluate an airfield. This mission was conducted in March 2003 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Combat Controller performing air traffic control procedures to establish and evaluate an airfield. This mission was conducted in March 2003 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Air Force personnel were in the ground team that rescued Private Jessica Lynch. The first person in the team to reach her was a PJ. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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Air Force personnel were in the ground team that rescued Private Jessica Lynch. The first person in the team to reach her was a PJ. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Air Force personnel were in the ground team that rescued Private Jessica Lynch. The first person in the team to reach her was a PJ. The PJ took the U.S. flag patch off his left shoulder and put it in her hands. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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Air Force personnel were in the ground team that rescued Private Jessica Lynch. The first person in the team to reach her was a PJ. The PJ took the U.S. flag patch off his left shoulder and put it in her hands. (U.S. Air Force photo)

OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM -- A combat controller walks back to his teammates after practicing firing movements at an undisclosed location.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock)
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A Combat Controller at an undisclosed location during the early months of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Combat Controller Staff Sgt. David Overton, passing out candy and toys to Iraqi children in Baghdad. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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Combat Controller Staff Sgt. David Overton, passing out candy and toys to Iraqi children in Baghdad. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Special Operations Weather Team (SWOT) member in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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Special Operations Weather Team (SWOT) member in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Special Operations Weather Team (SWOT) member in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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Special Operations Weather Team (SWOT) member in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Staff Sgt. Sean Bailey served two tours as a JTAC in Iraq. During his first tour, he served with the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions in the drive across Iraq. On his second tour, he served mainly with the 101st Airborne’s Long Range Surveillance Teams. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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Staff Sgt. Sean Bailey served two tours as a JTAC in Iraq. During his first tour, he served with the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions in the drive across Iraq. On his second tour, he served mainly with the 101st Airborne’s Long Range Surveillance Teams. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Staff Sgt. Sean Bailey waving a U.S. flag at “Q-West” (Qayyarah Airfield West), about 180 miles north of Baghdad. Bailey served two tours as a JTAC in Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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Staff Sgt. Sean Bailey waving a U.S. flag at “Q-West” (Qayyarah Airfield West), about 180 miles north of Baghdad. Bailey served two tours as a JTAC in Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Staff Sgt. Rich Brake, JTAC who served three tours in Iraq, taking a moment to eat some candy just before a mission against a high value target in Samarra, Iraq in February 2005. He is wearing the keffiyeh (also called a shemagh) now on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Keffiyehs are commonly worn in the Middle East to provide protection against the sun and blowing sand, and to identify one’s social position and group. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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Staff Sgt. Rich Brake, JTAC who served three tours in Iraq, taking a moment to eat some candy just before a mission against a high value target in Samarra, Iraq in February 2005. He is wearing the keffiyeh (also called a shemagh) now on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Keffiyehs are commonly worn in the Middle East to provide protection against the sun and blowing sand, and to identify one’s social position and group. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Staff Sgt. Rich Brake (far right) pictured with other TACP personnel of the 332nd Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron during Operation Southern Watch in the summer of 2001. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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Staff Sgt. Rich Brake (far right) pictured with other TACP personnel of the 332nd Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron during Operation Southern Watch in the summer of 2001. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Staff Sgt. Jason Kinney, a JTAC who served four tours in Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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Staff Sgt. Jason Kinney, a JTAC who served four tours in Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo)

U.S. Air Force ground special tactics played a key role during the initial stages of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, small, highly-mobile U.S. Air Force, Army and Navy special operation forces inserted deep into the hostile mountains of Afghanistan to find, capture and destroy elusive Taliban and Al Qaeda forces. The Taliban was quickly removed from power, and Air Force Battlefield Airmen continued searching for terrorists hiding in the mountains.

In the early part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq, USAF Battlefield Airmen, in joint operations with other U.S. unconventional forces, conducted missions that paralyzed 11 Iraqi divisions. Their efforts made the land drive to Baghdad less difficult. USAF Battlefield Airmen also established forward assault landing strips, directed close air support strikes and recovered downed and wounded personnel. 

USAF Battlefield Airmen remain an essential part of U.S. military operations worldwide.

Click here to return to the Warrior Airmen Overview.

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