Who Are Those Guys?:

The Air Force has been waiting on the Army and Marine Corps to detail how they plan to increase their numbers by a total of 92,000 to determine just what forces it needs to support this larger ground forces. There are questions about airlift needs and about increasing the numbers of that special brand of airmen who work with ground forces, collectively called battlefield airmen. TSgt. Shane Cuomo reports that some in that group, Tactical Air Control Party airmen with the 25th Air Support Operations Squadron in Hawaii, recently completed a Koa Lightning exercise with B-2 bombers that flew in from Andersen AFB, Guam. The 25th TACPs live and work with soldiers at Wheeler Army Airfield in Hawaii. TSgt. Rick Setlock sums up their job: “To me there’s nothing more important than keeping the ground troops safe, not only from our fires but also from enemy fires.” He explained that the close air support TACPs call in “can lay fires down that are more effective than [the Army’s] inherent artillery rounds.” And, another, A1C Robert Gaines, said: “It’s not just a matter of close air support. We’re also infantrymen, in a sense,” and, he continued, “We have to have medical skills, communications skills, navigation skills.”