EC-130H Compass Call Exceeds 2,500 Iraq Sorties

The 43rd Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron, in combination with the 386th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron’s Silver Aircraft Maintenance Unit, reached a significant milestone in August when they completed their 2,500th Operation Iraqi Freedom combat sortie.

The 43rd EECS “Bats,” deployed to an undisclosed forward operating location in Southwest Asia from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., fly the EC-130H Compass Call, an airborne tactical weapon system which prevents successful enemy command and control communications and limits adversary coordination. The system also supports tactical air operations, and provides conventional and special operations support to friendly forces.

Since the squadron’s first OIF deployment in March 2004, the 43rd EECS has flown more than 17,500 mishap free combat hours, providing electronic combat coverage to coalition troops operating in the OIF theater of operations. What makes this squadron’s combat accomplishments even more impressive is the fact that the unit has never possessed more than three aircraft in theater at any one time.

Lt. Col. Robert Stonemark, 43rd EECS commander, said this milestone was one of many accomplishments achieved during the longest deployment in unit history.

“The Bats’ 2,500th sortie is a result of more than four years of outstanding dedication, hard work and selflessness on the part of maintainers, aircrew and support troops,” said Colonel Stonemark. “The key to the unit’s success has been the synergistic teamwork between the maintenance and operations professionals deployed from the 55th Electronic Combat Group and the 355th Maintenance Group from Davis-Monthan AFB.”

Tech. Sgt. Anthony Mobilian, a 43rd EECS aircraft propulsion craftsman, is on his thirteenth deployment to the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing in his 13-year career. He has worked both the tactical airlift portion (Blue AMU) and the electronic attack side (Silver AMU) of the 386th AEW mission.

“This is the most unique deployment I have been on,” Sergeant Mobilian said. “Both AMUs are satisfying, but the job fulfillment of putting aircraft in the air to capture bad guys and save troops is beyond anything I have ever experienced.”

Sergeant Mobilian also noted that the fact everyone here is from the same unit back home gives the added benefit of everyone knowing each other personally.

“With this added luxury, we are confident in each others abilities,” said Sergeant Mobilian. “This leads to extremely efficient communication to get the job done.”

Despite the extreme weather conditions of the area, which can make maintaining the EC-130 aircraft a difficult challenge, the men and women of the Silver AMU get the job done with limited resources, personnel and varying mission requirements. Capt. Mike Shirley, a 43rd EECS aircraft navigator deployed from Davis-Monthan AFB, and 1st Lieutenant David Marques, Silver AMU officer in charge, are two of those Airmen who, despite their varied levels of deployment experience, are ready and eager to perform their duties in the face of a variety of circumstances.

“We provide the best support we can to the troops on the ground, and as their focus changes, we change,” said Captain Shirley. He is on his fourth deployment.

Lieutenant Marques commented on the value of the mission, which remains constant despite its variation in objectives.

“The mission is highly rewarding because every sortie we launch has the potential to save our troops lives,” said Lieutenant Marques. “I am honored to be part of the war on terrorism and 55th Electronic Group history.” The lieutenant is on his first deployment.

The 43rd EECS is unique in that the entire squadron is made up of Airmen from Davis-Monthan AFB. The C-130 Compass Call and its technicians are the only one of their kind in the Air Force.

Max Rippel

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