News: French forces fueling freedom
Story by Senior Airman Bahja Jones
SOUTHWEST ASIA – The 379th Air Expeditionary Wing hosts one of the U.S. Central Command’s most diverse mission sets, with tenants and coalition partners from all over working to accomplish the air tasking order. Among them is a small coalition contingent with a big mission responsible for managing French air forces assets operating in Southwest Asia.
As liaisons for the French air force, the eight-member teams’ primary mission is incorporating French assets into the Combined Air and Space Operations Center air tasking order as necessary in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, said Col. Philippe Poireault, the CAOC French liaison element chief.
“The LNO [liaison officer] sits in the operations room and when we have [French] Air Force means in the area, they are responsible for the incorporation of those means into the ATO,” said Maj. Thierry Landy, the CAOC French liaison element deputy chief. “Since we have no permanent aircraft here, our mission is to coordinate when we have a temporary detachment in the region.”
The French air force leaders communicate mission information to LNOs here, who relay to the CAOC ATO planner identifying what kind and how many sorties will be flown, how long they will be present and any other required data. This includes coordinating movements for French aircraft carriers as well, Landy explained.
“We are also ready to be inserted [into the ATO], or to go up in case of a crisis in the region,” said Poireault.
If an emergency arises, they are able to react quickly as a forward element ready to welcome augmentees from the French air force when necessary, he explained.
French forces here are also responsible for the “good use of French means,” ensuring French assets are used within their service regulations–also called the “red card order.”
“If there is a request for French aircraft to do a mission, if it’s not in accordance with French regimentation, we are unable to support it,” Landy said.
The colonel added they have a good working relationship with their coalition partner counterparts and are continuously toward total integration, noting the process takes time.
“The aim of the chief of staff and the French equivalent is to get people inserted into the CAOC to be a mixed team of coalition members working together,” said Landy.
Landy added the French contingent is looking forward to making strides toward greater synergistic operations in the future.