Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mitchell Hour Recap: Air Operations Over Afghanistan

Yesterday's Mitchell Institute for Airpower Studies welcomed Major General Tod D. Wolters, former commander of the 9th Air and Space Expeditionary Task Force-Afghanistan, as the guest speaker for its latest Mitchell Hour. 

In an hour-long briefing, he discussed Air Force and NATO air operations in Afghanistan from Summer 2011 to Summer 2012, the height of the insurgency. For a year in his role, he led more than 9,000 airmen across three Afghanistan-based air wings.

From providing ISR capabilities (more specifically, full-motion video ISR) to synchronizing messages and executing plans that were in line with the COMISAF, Wolters had the responsibility of leading his task force in the "relentless pursuit" of the target to achieve ISAF and GIROA success.

He provided his perspective on the successes and limitations of US and NATO airpower in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, emphasizing how air remained a critical enabler throughout the year and citing casualty evacuation (CASEVAC), medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), lift, close air support and electronic warfare as major assets during his tenure. 

Notable accomplishments:
  • On CASEVAC/MEDEVAC: Evacuating casualties from the battlefield to the nearest hospital within 60 minutes of their injury, averaging 40 to 45 minutes  
  • On ISR: USAF provided 560-600 hrs/day of full motion video, in addition to a few more hundreds of hours provided by the Army and Coalition forces.
  • On close air support: the requirement is to have an asset overhead to protect ground troops within 12 minutes, however, they average eight minutes today.
Check out Air Force magazine's Aug. 15 Daily Report for further reading!

[Gen. Wolters is currently the Air Force Director of Legislative Liaison. The directorate is the contact between the Air Force and Congress on issues such as legislative and constituent inquiries, programs and weapons systems.]

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