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    ATOs: A “How-To” guide for Joint Air Operations

    ATOs: A “How-To” guide for Joint Air Operations

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Luke Kitterman | An Iraqi Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft crew chief, from the 9th...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Luke Kitterman 

    Task Force Air

    Multi-national combat flying operations are happening everyday around the world – but how do all the nations’ air forces know exactly when to fly, what airspace to occupy and what specific mission they are to carry out. The answer is an Air Tasking Order.

    An ATO is a finalized document that comes down from the Combined Air Component Commander of that theater. It covers all missions inside its area of responsibility with acute details such as which aircraft will utilized, different call signs, exact times, targets, strategies and mission goals.

    “A good way to look at it is that an ATO is a very detailed set of instructions for all flying missions in a 24-hour period,” said ‘Flash,’ a 370th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron air advisor. “These instructions are made based off guidance gathered from intelligence and surveillance combined with the commander’s priorities and resources.”

    It is this standardized process that is used by the coalition forces and is now being utilized by the Iraqi Air Force, bringing the 9th Fighter Squadron of F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft into the mix.

    “Flash and I are here to assisting them in employing their aircraft and weapons in combat through the form of an ATO,” said Bond, another 370th AEAS air advisor. “They can obviously be tasked by their own government to provide air support in whichever way they need but knowing the ATO process brings them into the same fight as everyone else. These guys already excel in the air, we’re here to just bring them in on the ‘plays’ we’re running as a team.”

    Flash and Bond work daily with the Iraqi pilots to plan and execute the ATOs that come down to the squadron. Part of the process is to find any issues or problems during the execution phase and push that information back to the planning section to makes sure the following day’s ATO will overcome the challenges just faced.

    Having a different ATO come through every day requires that the ones making them plan ahead. There are usually at least three ATOs being worked on at once – the current day’s, tomorrow’s and the following day’s.

    “We will get an ATO a day prior to its execution day,” Bond said. “So carrying out the instructions for an ATO and then planning for the following day’s ATO all happens in the same day. These guys have been more than willing to meet the challenge of learning a dense process and it has been very rewarding for me.”

    This is just one more example of the valuable work being done out at Balad by the 370th AEAS air advisors in helping building the Iraqi Air Force enterprise.



    Date Taken: 06.17.2019
    Date Posted: 07.27.2019 03:23
    Story ID: 333331
    Location: IQ

    Web Views: 82
    Downloads: 1