03/24/06 — SJAFB pilot helps capture Iraqi insurgents

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SJAFB pilot helps capture Iraqi insurgents

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on March 24, 2006 1:46 PM

An airman with Seymour Johnson's 4th Fighter Wing was among aircrews that helped apprehend three suspected insurgents accused of mortaring Balad Air Base, Iraq, last week, Air Force officials said today.

Seymour Johnson Air Force Base public affairs officer Capt. Tana Stephenson said the base cannot release the names of deployed airmen, but could identify the pilot by his call sign -- "Dozer."

On March 16, two F-15E Strike Eagles with the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing were on a close-air-support mission near the base when mortars were detected by the Joint Defense Operation Center, according to a press release from the U.S. Central Command.

In the moments after the attack, officials at the Operation Center calculated just where the mortar launch had originated and relayed that information to the F-15s, the release reported.

Aircrews moved in on the location and using electro-optical and infrared sensor capabilities, spotted three individuals fleeing in the vehicle from which the mortars were allegedly fired.

The jets followed the vehicle until it stopped at a house, at which point they relayed its location back to the Joint Defense Operation Center.

When the location got back to the base, Army Task Force 3-29, 101st Airborne Division (Assault), moved in on the house. Soldiers from the 101st detained the three suspects. Initial field tests indicated chemical explosive residue was present on all three.

Royal Air Force Commodore Ray Lock said the results show how the Air Force is playing an important role in the fight against insurgency.

"This engagement is an exceptional example of how air forces are contributing to the counter-insurgency campaign," Lock said in the press release. "In this case by the overwhelming advantage we have in the innovative use of fighter aircraft for non-traditional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance."

"This increased 'eye-in-the-sky' capability and the speed with which we can pass information around the battlefield are real-force multipliers. The nature of this engagement is becoming the norm as we meld joint capabilities together -- whether it be to locate insurgents, vector in ground forces to capture them or even take strike action, the results show the tremendous impact that can be delivered by modern air power."