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A-10s over Kosovo

A-10s over Kosovo


    There are certain dates in the history of warfare that mark real turning points…. Now there is a new date on the calendar: June 3, 1999, when the capitulation of President Milosevic proved that a war can be won by airpower alone.
—John Keegan, London’s Daily Telegraph
    Colonels Haave and Haun organized the firsthand accounts of members of the 40th Expeditionary Operations Group into this book. Their descriptions of the application of airpower—a new wingman’s first combat sortie, a support officer’s view of an FS relocation during combat, and Sandy pilot’s efforts to find and rescue a downed F-177 pilot—provide the reader with a legitimate insight into an air war at the tactical level and the airpower that helped convince Milosevic to capitulate.
    Opinions, conclusions, and recommendations expressed or implied within are solely those of the editors and do not necessarily represent the views of Air University, the United States Air Force, the Department of Defense, or any other US government agency. Cleared for public release: distribution unlimited.

    Best viewed with CoolReader v. 2 or 3.

A-10s OVER KOSOVO The Victory of Airpower over a Fielded Army as Told by the Airmen Who Fought in Operation Allied Force Edited by CHRISTOPHER E. HAAVE, Colonel, USAF and PHIL M. HAUN, Lieutenant Colonel, USAF

    We owe much of our combat success to many outstanding folks who were not present at either Aviano AB or Gioia del Colle AB. Those folks include families and friends who supported us from afar, leaders and commanders who placed faith in our abilities, fellow warriors who shared the danger in the air, dedicated professionals at home bases who provided the logistical lifeblood, and all the past and present members of the A-10 and Air Force communities who trained us right. All these loved ones and colleagues deserve the lion’s share of credit for the A-10 achievements during Allied Force.


    In the spring of 1999, NATO engaged in a precedent-setting air campaign over Serbia and Kosovo known as Operation Allied Force (OAF). This event marked a milestone for airpower, as it was, arguably, the first time airpower alone was decisive in achieving victory in combat. By the end of the conflict, in June 1999, America and its allies had mounted a monumental effort to achieve the immediate goals of halting ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and providing for the return of hundreds of thousands of refugees. Ground forces, introduced following the end of the air campaign, have subsequently been employed to secure the peace.
    Several books have already been written about OAF, though not as many as might have been expected given the implications for NATO and airpower that came out of that conflict. Those that have been written focus primarily on the strategic level, the events, diplomacy, and decisions by senior military and political leaders that led to the conflict and determined its conduct. This is not that kind of book. This is about the other end of the spectrum as told by those that flew and fought at the most basic level during the war—the A-10 pilots of the 40th Expeditionary Operations Group (EOG).
    I was privileged to command the 52d Air Expeditionary Wing during OAF. The 40th EOG was one of four such groups in my wing. Its members’ job was to find and destroy fielded Serb forces in Kosovo and to provide combat search and rescue for downed allied aircrews. This is their story. They take you into the cockpit where you learn how the strategic policy was ultimately put into action.
    After the war, one senior Air Force officer said, “About 80 percent of the airpower effort was magnificent, but the other 20 percent was pretty ugly.” Through the eyes of the 40th EOG, you’ll see the good, the bad, and the ugly. You will appreciate the enormous pressures placed on our fighter pilots as they strove to find and verify valid military targets, protect the civilian population against collateral damage, destroy fielded Serbian forces, and rescue downed airmen. You’ll appreciate how well and how professionally they carried out their mission, and you will experience the frustration that comes from waging war within the inevitable restrictions placed by our leaders.
    OAF was an unusual war in many ways. Indeed, due to allied political sensitivities, we didn’t even call it a “war” for quite some time. Gen Wesley K. Clark, supreme allied commander in Europe termed it diplomacy by force until he retired. While victory was ultimately achieved, it was never declared. Nevertheless, for those who flew in it, OAF was war, and especially for the A-10 pilots it was tough, dangerous, and personal. I’m honored to have led these outstanding warriors, and I support their effort to preserve their experiences in writing. There are important lessons here for all of us. This is their story, in their own words—exciting, unvarnished, and on target.
    Brigadier General, USAF
    52d Air Expeditionary Wing

Lt Col Chris “Kimos” Haave

    In May 1999, our 81st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS) was flying out of Gioia del Colle Air Base (AB), Italy, conducting around-the-clock combat operations in support of Operation Allied Force (OAF). In the midst of this, several pilots began talking about writing a book. Those of us who were airpower and military-history buffs noticed that the combat we were experiencing was far different from much of what we had studied. After Slobodan Milosevic capitulated and OAF ended in June, we took stock of what we had done and promised each other to write down our combat experiences and observations. A-10s over Kosovo is the fruit of that commitment.
    Our initial vision for this book was to let each pilot tell an anecdote or two. Taken collectively, those stories would provide others with an idea of what an A-10 group had, or had not, accomplished. However, as we wrote and exchanged ideas, we decided that the book should focus primarily on the missions. Therefore, in the end, our book includes many personal accounts of our relocation and beddown, aircraft maintenance, and combat experiences; we tried to describe the tactical execution of those missions and the many activities that directly, or indirectly, supported them.
    We have limited our focus to the contributions of the 40th Expeditionary Operations Group (EOG) comprised of personnel from the 81st EFS at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, and the 74th EFS from Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina. While we fondly mention some of the combat contributions of our fellow A-10 warriors in the 104th EOG who operated out of Trapani AB, Sicily, we do not tell their complete story.
    The scope of A-10s over Kosovo is limited to the 40th EOG’s participation in OAF. For simplicity’s sake we use the Kosovo engagement zone (KEZ) to describe that area of Kosovo and southeastern Serbia where A-10 aircrews flew their portion of the air campaign against fielded Serbian forces. Additionally, “Sandys” (A-10 pilots qualified to lead combat search and rescue [CSAR] missions) were responsible to cover the entire OAF theater of operations. Covering that around-the-clock CSAR alert during the entire 78-day campaign required A-10 crews to spend as many hours on ground alert as actually flying.
    This book’s objectives are to include firsthand accounts by those who participated and share the observations and conclusions seen from their tactical points of view. We humbly acknowledge that we did not thoroughly research the operational and strategic levels of the air campaign, nor did we investigate the many decisions up and down the chain of command that affected the missions and the rules of engagement (ROE). Also beyond our scope was a rigorous analysis of the international political-military discussions and decisions above the level we could directly observe. For these reasons, we have limited our focus to the expeditionary squadron and group levels. While the reader might occasionally sense some frustration in an author’s personal account, we have collectively attempted to refrain from drawing conclusions about why we were ordered to conduct our operations in a particular manner. We do not feel qualified to comment on the appropriateness of particular courses of action (COA) and ROEs. However, since our firsthand tactical experience allowed us to observe the effect that those COAs and ROEs had on our missions, we are comfortable in sharing those observations with our readers and pointing out those areas we consider worthy of further investigation and improvement.
    We have presented each contributor’s account, editing only for clarity, accuracy, and to avoid repeating each other’s stories. We found that letting each participant speak freely was the most legitimate way to tell the A-10 story. We have organized these stories to illustrate each chapter’s theme and have tried to retain their you-are-there quality.
    One of our purposes is to attract readers at all levels in the Air Force. Thus we discussed an Air Force tenet of airpower that—on various days—was followed, could have been better employed, or was ignored. We also hope that our honest attempt to provide an accurate, albeit tactical, perspective on the effects that higher-headquarters direction had on our tactical level of combat will be of interest to that wider audience. We refrained from second-guessing those whose decision-making processes and environments we did not observe. Finally, we did attempt to present our narratives in a storytelling style that students of airpower history (and perhaps the occupants of a fighter-pilot bar) might find interesting.
    Even before the end of the air campaign, we felt that documenting our experiences would be valuable. A-10 pilots contributed to several significant and unique Air Force accomplishments during OAF: (1) this operation marked the first time that an airborne forward air controller (AFAC) aircraft led a largeforce mission package into combat; (2) it also included the first major air campaign in which no friendly aircrews were killed or taken prisoner—A-10 aircrews led the packages that rescued the only two pilots shot down; (3) although the official battle damage assessment (BDA) is incomplete, A-10s most likely destroyed more field-deployed Serb weaponry than any other allied weapon system; and (4) the two-ship AFAC’s first combat test in a 360-degree threat environment was a great success—none of the fighters controlled by A-10 AFACs were lost, only two A-10s received any battle damage, and there were no known collateral civilian casualties.
    This book also presents many unique aspects of A-10 operations in the KEZ. A-10 AFACs directed strikes by nearly every type of NATO aircraft. US fighter aircraft were occasionally under the operational control of a foreign officer (an allied officer sometimes filled the position of director of the combined air operations center [CAOC]). Fighter aircraft were also able to loiter with near impunity over a robust radar and infrared-guided air defense network during day and night operations. A drone, for the first time, worked concurrently with an AFAC to successfully locate, attack, and destroy targets. Allied ground units provided counterbattery radar plots through the airborne battlefield command and control center (ABCCC) aircraft to assist A-10s in locating and destroying enemy artillery—coining the phrase “close ground support.”
    Chapter 1 establishes the overall context of the A-10 involvement in OAF and includes a description of participating units, their aircraft, and their weapons capabilities. It discusses mission types and typical missions, daily operations cycles, and theater geography and force-beddown locations. The appendix adds further political and military context.
    Our personal experiences led us to select certain themes around which to organize our book. Those themes, starting with chapter 2, are as follows: mission leadership; beddown, maintenance, and combat support; enemy action; target identification and ROE; the Flat Face–Giraffe hunt; tactical innovation; and “my turn in the barrel.” Each chapter begins with a short discussion of the particular theme around which it is structured; the authors then tell their associated stories. In reality, a few of those stories may touch on more than one theme, and some stories may contain ideas that do not specifically fit any theme. However, we believe that all the widely ranging stories, from a new wingman’s account of his first combat sortie to a commander’s description of relocating his unit while executing combat operations, add value and integrity to the book.
    We in the 40th EOG Hog community owe much of our combat success to many outstanding folks who were not present at either Aviano AB or Gioia del Colle AB. They include families and friends who supported us from afar, leaders and commanders who placed faith in our abilities, fellow warriors who shared the danger in the air, dedicated professionals at home bases who provided the logistical lifeblood, and all the past and present members of the A-10 and Air Force communities who trained us right. All these loved ones and colleagues deserve the lion’s share of credit for the A-10 achievements during Allied Force.
    These stories, then, are our accounts of personal experiences and do not pretend to provide definitive answers to weighty questions of strategy or doctrine. However, we do hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did writing them.


Capt Nathan S. Brauner
    Capt Nate “Foghorn” Brauner is from Northridge, California, and graduated from the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) in 1991. He has accumulated more than 1,500 flying hours in the A-10 and has served as an A-10 replacement training unit (RTU) instructor pilot at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (AFB), Arizona. He has also served at Laughlin AFB, Texas; Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio; Pope AFB, North Carolina; and Spangdahlem Air Base (AB), Germany.
Capt Joseph S. Brosious
    Capt Joe “Joe Bro” Brosious is a graduate of the University of Colorado, and has served tours at Osan AB, South Korea, and Spangdahlem. Following Operation Allied Force (OAF) he served as an A-10 RTU instructor pilot at Davis-Monthan.
Maj Dawn M. Brotherton
    Maj Dawn Brotherton is from Champion, Ohio, and graduated from Ohio State University in 1988. She holds a master’s degree from Central Missouri State University and is a personnel officer by trade. Major Brotherton has had assignments at Whiteman AFB, Missouri; Osan; Nellis AFB, Nevada; Spangdahlem; and Randolph AFB, Texas. Following OAF, Dawn served as the chief of personnel-officer assignments at Randolph. Dawn is married to Pete, and they have a beautiful daughter Rachel.
Maj Peter R. Brotherton
    Maj Pete “Bro” Brotherton is from Wilton, Connecticut, and graduated from Embry-Riddle University in 1985. He has accumulated more than 3,000 flying hours in the A-10, F-4G, and AT-38 with assignments at England AFB, Louisiana; Holloman AFB, New Mexico; Osan; Nellis; and Spangdahlem. Following OAF Bro served in the Air Force Reserve in San Antonio, Texas.
Maj David W. Brown
    Maj Dave Brown is from Terre Haute, Indiana, and graduated from Indiana State University in 1986. He has flown the AT-38, F-15, A-10, and F-16 block 40 aircraft with assignments at Holloman; Elmendorf AFB, Alaska; Hickam AFB, Hawaii; Spangdahlem; and Eielson AFB, Alaska. After OAF he commanded the 354th Maintenance Squadron at Eielson. Dave and his wife, Patricia, have three children—David Jr., Christopher, and Megan. Dave enjoys outdoor activities, including camping, fishing, and hunting.
Capt Kevin Bullard
    Capt Kevin “Boo” Bullard is from Charleston, South Carolina, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from the USAFA class of 1989. He has accumulated more than 2,700 total flying hours and is currently serving in the USAF Reserves as a full-time instructor pilot at Columbus AFB, Mississippi. Since departing active-duty service, he has had the opportunity to hunt, fish, and spend time with his wife and two daughters.
1st Lt Scott R. Cerone
    1st Lt Scott “Hummer” Cerone is a 1995 graduate of the USAFA where he was a four-year varsity-letter winner in lacrosse. He has 1,200 hours in the A/OA-10 and during OAF was assigned to the 74th Fighter Squadron “Flying Tigers” at Pope. Following OAF, Scott was stationed at Osan and currently is assigned to Davis-Monthan as an A/OA-10 FTU instructor pilot.
1st Lt Michael A. Curley
    1st Lt Mike “Scud” Curley is from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in behavioral science from the USAFA, class of 1995. He accumulated more than 700 flying hours in the A-10 at Spangdahlem and Osan.
1st Lt Allen E. Duckworth
    1st Lt Allen “JAKS” Duckworth is from Columbus, Indiana, and is a 1996 graduate of the USAFA. He has accumulated more than 570 flying hours in the A-10 at Spangdahlem and Davis-Monthan.
Capt Andrew J. Gebara
    Capt Andrew J. “Buffy” Gebara is a 12-year Air Force veteran from Highland, California. He is a 1991 graduate of the United States Naval Academy and holds a master’s degree from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. In addition to his time over Kosovo, Captain Gebara has been assigned to Spangdahlem and Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. He is a senior pilot with more than 2,600 hours of flying time in the A-10, AT-38, B-2, and B-52 aircraft. Buffy is currently serving as an instructor pilot in the B-2 “stealth bomber” at Whiteman.
Maj David E. Gross
    Maj Dave “Devo” Gross holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Florida and a master’s degree in public administration from Webster University. He has flown more than 2,500 hours in the A-10, T-3A, F-4G Wild Weasel, and F-16 aircraft during his assignments at Plattsburgh AFB, New York; Columbus; England; Randolph; Nellis; and Spangdahlem. Currently he is an F-16 pilot in the Tulsa Oklahoma Air National Guard (ANG) and flies for American Airlines. Dave and his wife, Nadine, have a son, Matthew, and are expecting the birth of another son.
Col Christopher E. Haave
    Col Chris “Kimos” Haave was born on 20 July 1960 and graduated from the USAFA in 1982. After pilot training at Laughlin, he flew the A-10 at RAF Woodbridge, United Kingdom, and the AT-38B at Holloman. He studied as an Olmsted Scholar in Lyon, France, and Boston, Massachusetts; attended the French Joint Defense College; and held staff positions at the Pentagon, the US Mission to NATO in Brussels, and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. He commanded the 81st Fighter Squadron “Panthers” at Spangdahlem from July 1998 to April 2000, and is currently the commander of the 612th Air Operations Group at Davis-Monthan.
1st Lt Johnny L. Hamilton
    1st Lt Johnny “CBU” Hamilton is from Converse, Texas, and a 1996 graduate of Angelo State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology. He has accumulated almost 800 flying hours in the A-10 at Spangdahlem and Osan. CBU is currently serving a two-year sentence as an air liaison officer at Fort Hood, Texas.
Lt Col Phil M. Haun
    Lt Col Phil “Goldie” Haun was born on 7 February 1964 and is from Cecilia, Kentucky. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in environmental engineering from Harvard University and a Master of Arts in economics from Vanderbilt University. Goldie is a weapons-school graduate with more than 2,000 flying hours in the A-10 with assignments at RAF Bentwaters, England; Osan; Spangdahlem; and Eielson. He attended Air Command and Staff College and the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS) at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, following OAF. He is currently serving as the operations officer of the 355th Fighter Squadron (FS) at Eielson. Goldie and his wife, Bonnie, have two children—Clayton and Sadie.
Lt Col Mark E. Koechle
    Lt Col Mark “Coke” Koechle is from Kokomo, Indiana, and is a 1983 graduate of Purdue University with Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering. He has accumulated more than 3,300 flying hours in the A-10 with assignments at RAF Bentwaters; Nellis; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Ramstein AB, Germany; and Spangdahlem. He commanded the 81st Fighter Squadron Panthers prior to his recent departure to attend the National War College, Washington, D.C. Coke is one of the few A-10 pilots to have flown in both OAF and Operation Desert Storm.
1st Lt Stuart C. Martin
    1st Lt Stu “Co” Martin is a 1995 graduate of the USAFA where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in behavioral science. He accumulated more than 800 hours in the A-10 during his first operational assignment at Spangdahlem. He is continuing to fly the A-10 at Pope while assigned to the 74th FS.
Capt Francis M. McDonough
    Capt Marty “JD” McDonough is from Orono, Maine, and graduated from the USAFA in 1989. He has accumulated more than 2,500 flying hours in the A-10 and T-38 aircraft with assignments at Columbus, Osan, Pope, and Spangdahlem. Marty is currently the USAFE chief of A/OA-10 standardization and evaluation at headquarters in Ramstein.
Capt James P. Meger
    Capt James “Meegs” Meger from Lancaster, New York, graduated from the USAFA in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering. Meegs has flown more than 500 hours in the AT-38B and more than 1,500 hours in the A-10 during assignments to Osan and Spangdahlem. He is currently assigned to Langley AFB, Virginia, flying the F-15.
Capt Michael J. Shenk
    Capt Mike “Hook” Shenk is from Downers Grove, Illinois, and graduated from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1988. He has accumulated more than 2,600 flying hours in the T-38 and A-10 with assignments at Columbus, Spangdahlem, and Willow Grove Joint Reserve Base, Horsham Township, Pennsylvania. Hook is currently the assistant weapons officer for the 103d FS at Willow Grove and a flight officer for United Airlines.
Capt Ronald F. Stuewe
    Capt Ron “Stu” Stuewe is from Papillion, Nebraska, and is a 1993 graduate from the USAFA. He has accumulated more than 1,500 flying hours in the A-10 with assignments at Shaw AFB, South Carolina; Pope; and Osan. Stu attended weapon school following OAF and is currently an instructor at the USAF Weapons School at Nellis.
Col Alan E. Thompson
    Col Al “Moose” Thompson holds a business degree from the University of Connecticut. He served tours in both the Air and Joint Staff. He served as the 52d FW vice commander and commanded the 40th Expeditionary Operations Group at Gioia del Colle AB, Italy, during OAF. He also has commanded an operational support squadron and the Air Force Warrior Preparation Center at Einsiedlerhof Air Station, Germany. Colonel Thompson is a command pilot and has accumulated more than 3,500 flying hours in singleseat fighter and attack aircraft during his 14 assignments. Those assignments include Columbus; RAF Bentwaters; Davis-Monthan; Kunsan; Spangdahlem; and Misawa AB, Japan. After serving as a professor of air and space studies, and commanding the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) detachment at the University of Pittsburgh, Colonel Thompson was selected to command the AFROTC program nationwide.
Capt Ripley E. Woodard
    Capt “Rip” Woodard is from Houston/Klein, Texas, and is a 1989 graduate of Texas A&M University. He has accumulated more than 2,700 flying hours in the A-10, AT-38, and T-37 aircraft during assignments at Reese AFB, Texas; Spangdahlem; Randolph; and Williams AFB, Texas. Rip is currently an AT-38 instructor pilot in the Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals course at Randolph.


    (Key: an asterisk marks activities and events covered in this book; other political and military activities are listed to provide context.)
    7 January
    The 81st Fighter Squadron (FS) deploys with six A-10s to Aviano AB, Italy, in support of Joint Forge.*
    15 January
    The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM) reports a serious deterioration of the situation in the area. KVM patrols witness Serb army (VJ) tanks and armored vehicles firing directly into houses near Malopoljce and Petrova, and notes houses burning in Racak.
    16 January
    Returning to Racak, the KVM confirms that Serb security forces had killed 45 Albanian civilians and stated that it had evidence of arbitrary detentions, extrajudicial killings, and the mutilation of unarmed civilians by the security forces of the Former Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY).
    28 January
    Secretary General Javier Solana of NATO issues a statement indicating that NATO fully supports the enhanced status for Kosovo, preservation of the territorial integrity of the FRY, and protection of the rights of all ethnic groups. The statement calls for FRY authorities to immediately bring the force levels, posture, and actions of the Yugoslav army and the Special Police into strict compliance with their commitments to NATO on 25 October 1998 and to end the excessive and disproportionate use of force in accordance with these commitments.
    30 January
    NATO’s primacy focus remains on the peace negotiations in Rambouillet, France; all the while, intelligence reports clearly show a significant buildup of FRY forces in Kosovo. The North Atlantic Council (NAC) gives Secretary General Solana the authority to authorize air strikes against targets on FRY territory.
    7 February
    The 81st FS is extended for 30 days and directed to stand up combat search and rescue (CSAR).*
    1 March
    The 81st FS is extended indefinitely and is authorized 15 A-10s.*
    19 March
    After the Kosovar Albanians sign the proposed agreement, negotiations are suspended, and the Serb delegates leave Paris without signing it. They denounce the Western ultimatum as a violation of international law and the UN charter. The KVM withdraws from Kosovo. Almost onethird of the FRY’s total armed forces, massed in and around Kosovo, commences the systematic expulsion of Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians, codenamed Operation Horseshoe. Many were driven out of their homes and villages. Some victims are summarily executed, hundreds of thousands are displaced, and many lose their homes when Serbs set fire to them.
    21 March
    US Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke is dispatched to Belgrade to deliver a “final warning” to Slobodan Milosevic.
    23 March
    Ambassador Holbrooke departs Belgrade, having received no concessions of any kind from Milosevic. Subsequently, Secretary General Solana directs Gen Wesley K. Clark, supreme allied commander Europe (SACEUR) to initiate air operations in the FRY.
    24 March
    Operation Allied Force (OAF) commences with combat operations against Serbian forces.*
    25 March
    The Yugoslav government breaks off diplomatic relations with the United States, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
    27 March
    After an F-117 is lost near Belgrade, a successful 81st-led CSAR effort recovers the pilot.*
    30 March
    Combined Air Interdiction of Fielded Forces (CAIFF) begins operations but is limited to 10 miles penetration of Kosovo.*
    1 April
    Serbian forces capture three US soldiers in the FRY of Macedonia.
    3 April
    NATO missiles strike central Belgrade for the first time and destroy the Yugoslav and Serbian interior ministries.
    5 April
    Maj Devo Gross flies his first combat sortie with Capt Lester Less.*
    6 April
    The first successful A-10 attack occurs during OAF. Weather finally permits an AFAC to locate and destroy a Serb truck park.*
    Lt Col Kimos Haave controls an 18-ship package against military vehicles and petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) targets.*
    7 April
    CAIFF operations changes its name to Serb army (VJ)–Serb Interior Ministry police (MUP) Engagement Zone (VMEZ); included all of Kosovo.*
    Maj Dirt Fluhr transmits on the radio: “Hey, they’re shooting at us!”*
    8 April
    Capt JD McDonough destroys fuel trucks.*
    9 April
    Capt Rip Woodard successfully recovers his A-10 after experiencing a dual-engine flameout in the weather at flight level (FL) 300.*
    10 April
    The NAC approves the concept of operations and the operations plan for Allied Harbor, the NATO humanitarian effort in Albania.
    11 April
    The 81st FS moves to Gioia del Colle.*
    Col Al Thompson stands up the 40th Expeditionary Operations Group (EOG).*
    14 April
    Bear 31 (an F-16 AFAC) leads an attack on a column of approximately 100 vehicles. Many are destroyed, and 64 noncombatants are killed before Cub 31 (Capt JD McDonough) identifies the convoy as civilian. Bear 31 then terminates the F-16 and French Jaguar attacks.*
    15 April
    This is the first day that Macedonian airspace can be used to fly attack missions.*
    The VMEZ changes to the Kosovo engagement zone (KEZ).*
    Five 74th FS aircraft, nine pilots, and 65 support personnel arrive from Pope AFB and are integrated into 81st EFS.*
    21 April
    All European Union countries agree to stop oil-product deliveries by or through member states to the FRY. NATO missiles hit the Belgrade headquarters of Milosevic’s Serbian Socialist Party and his private residence; the allies believed that both could command and control VJ/MUP forces.
    22 April
    Alliance nations reaffirm the conditions that will bring an end to the air campaign and announce an intensification of that campaign.
    Maj Devo Gross and Capt Boo Bullard destroy a group of 20–30 military trucks near U-Town and six tanks in a river bed.*
    1 May
    Four 40th EOG Sandys lead the rescue of Hammer 34, an F-16 pilot shot down in northern Serbia.*
    Maj Corn Mays, Maj Devo Gross, Capt Meegs Meger, and Lt Scud Curley dodge multiple surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and attack a troop concentration.*
    Col Al Thompson, Lt Col Kimos Haave, and others discuss ROE and Apache helicopter options with Lt Gen Mike Short and Lt Gen John Hendrix, USA, at Tirana, Albania.*
    Three captured US soldiers are released into the custody of US civil rights leader Jesse Jackson.
    2 May
    Maj Goldie Haun kills a self-propelled artillery piece and strafes two tanks, is hit by an SA-14 missile, and recovers to Skopje, Macedonia.*
    4 May
    Great Flat Face–Giraffe Hunt begins.*
    5 May
    The ROEs change. The “within 10 nautical miles (NM) of the border” sanctuary is replaced by three zones: 0–2, 2–5, and 5–10 NM of border, with progressively increasing likelihood of target approval.*
    7 May
    NATO planes accidentally bomb the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, killing three and wounding 20. NATO describes the bombing as a “tragic mistake” caused by “faulty information.” The United States and NATO say that the intended target was a Yugoslav building with military use, but US maps used in the planning of the operation were old and had the embassy located at a previous address.
    11 May
    An A-10 AFAC is hit beneath the cockpit by a shoulder-fired missile. The warhead does not detonate, and the pilot is able to recover the aircraft to Gioia.*
    A Predator UAV operator provides Lt Col Coke Koechle’s flight with real-time target coordinates of a Serb army command post and hidden armored vehicles. The Serb command post and armor targets are destroyed.*
    Lt Col Surgeon Dahl flies the last flight of his tour (fini-flight) with wingman Lt Hummer Cerone on his first combat sortie; several military vehicles are destroyed with secondary explosions.*
    14 May
    At least 79 people are killed and 58 wounded when NATO missiles hit Korisa, a village in southern Kosovo.
    Capt Hook Shenk flies a mission check-ride; Capt Scrape Johnson evaluates while flying as Hook’s wingman. They attack targets and dodge a SAM.*
    19 May
    Russia says mediation efforts with the West are deadlocked. A NATO bomb kills 10 inmates in a Pristina jail.
    The 104th EOG arrives at Trapani AB, Sicily.
    22 May
    A UN humanitarian mission visits Kosovo, as NATO admits its mistake in bombing Kosovo Liberation Army positions at Kosare, near the border with Albania. Sources close to the KLA say seven guerillas were killed and 15 injured.
    Milosevic and four other Serbian leaders are indicted by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for crimes against humanity. The indictment is amended and expanded on 29 June 2001.
    23 May
    NATO begins a bombing campaign against the Yugoslav electricity grid, creating a major disruption of power that affects many militaryrelated activities and water supplies.
    The 104th EOG begins to fly missions out of Trapani AB, Sicily.
    31 May
    1st Lt Hummer Cerone and 1st Lt Co Martin pass their flight-lead check rides and pin on captain bars.
    8 June
    The West and Russia reach a landmark agreement on a draft UN resolution at the annual meeting of the heads of state of the eight major industrial democracies (G8) in Cologne, France. NATO calls on Milosevic to resume military talks on troop withdrawal at once.Talks between senior NATO and FRY officers on a Serb pullout from Kosovo resume in Macedonia and continue into the night.
    9 June
    This is the last day authorized for NATO forces to expend ordnance.
    Slobodan Milosevic capitulates and agrees to withdraw forces from Kosovo.*
    Maj James “Jimbo” MacCauley and 1st Lt Scud Curley are shot at by mobile SAMs, return the attack, and score a probable SAM kill.*
    Col Al Thompson attacks armored personnel carriers (APC) near Mount Osljak.*
    Military talks continue with senior NATO and FRY officers. Late in the day, the two parties sign the Military Technical Agreement.
    10 June
    Secretary General Solana calls for a suspension of NATO air strikes after receiving definite evidence that Serb forces are withdrawing from northern Kosovo. The UN Security Council adopts Resolution 1244 on Kosovo. In Cologne, G8 ministers draft a plan to anchor the Balkans to Western Europe and rebuild Kosovo.
    11 June
    Col Al Thompson passes command of the 40th EOG to Col Gregg Sanders and returns to Spangdahlem.*
    20 June
    In accordance with the 9 June Military Technical Agreement, Serb forces completely withdraw from Kosovo, leading Secretary General Solana to officially end NATO’s bombing campaign in the Former Republic of Yugoslavia.
    30 June
    A-10s cease CSAR and close air support (CAS) alert as NATO occupation forces enter the KEZ.*
    6 October
    Milosevic concedes defeat in the presidential election to Vlajislav Kostunica. Milosevic gives up power after widespread protests and Russian urging.
    29 June
    Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic of Serbia invokes Yugoslavia’s obligations under international law to support the transfer of Milosevic to the UN war crimes tribunal at The Hague. Milosevic is charged with committing crimes against humanity in Kosovo and Croatia. In November 2001, the charge of genocide is added, stemming from his alleged activity during the 1992–95 Bosnian war.
    12 February
    Milosevic’s trial begins in The Hague with Milosevic acting as his own defense lawyer. He is the first head of state to face an international warcrimes court.

Chapter 1

Lt Col Chris “Kimos” Haave


    The A-10 Thunderbolt II is the last in a long line of fighter and attack aircraft named “Thunder,” which were built by the Fairchild Republic Aircraft Company of Farmingdale, New York. Its notable ascendants include its namesake the P-47 Thunderbolt, the F-84 Thunderjet, the F-84F Thunderstreak, and the storied F-105 Thunderchief, whose name was familiarly abbreviated to “Thud.” The Thunderbolt II was developed to provide close air support (CAS) and improve on the Air Force’s experience with the reliable Vietnam War–era Douglas A-1E “Skyraiders.” The A-1E was a rugged and versatile ground-attack fighter that could loiter for extended periods in the target area and effectively employ a wide variety of air-to-ground weaponry. These attributes well served the CAS and combat search and rescue (CSAR) mission needs; pilots flying the A-1E on CSAR missions were first to use the “Sandy” call sign. To provide similar capabilities, the A-10 was designed as a straight-wing, subsonic attack aircraft uniquely equipped with an internal seven-barrel GAU-8 30 millimeter (mm) Gatling gun. It can also employ a large variety of weapons—including AGM-65 Maverick missiles—and can defend itself with air intercept missiles (AIM). Early in its history, the A-10’s appearance earned it the beloved nickname “Warthog,” which is often shortened to “Hog.” Many A-10 units have unofficial patches or coffee mugs with the motto “Go Ugly Early”—a testimony to its unique allure and the affection felt by those associated with it.
A-10 Thunderbolt II, …Warthog, …Hog (USAF Photo)
    The nomenclature of the A-10 is often confusing because the designations “A-10,” “OA-10,” and “A/OA-10” have been used to identify essentially identical aircraft. In reality, the aircraft designation reflects its assigned mission and the qualification of its pilot. “A-10” normally identifies an aircraft dedicated to the CAS mission, while “OA-10” refers to one used in the airborne forward air controller (AFAC) role. Each unit’s aircraft is then designated either A-10 or OA-10 as a reflection of the weighting of that unit’s CAS and AFAC tasking. Fighter squadrons (FS) must maintain an appropriate number of pilots qualified in each of those missions in addition to those qualified for CSAR, which is not directly related to either aircraft designation. During Operation Allied Force (OAF), Warthog squadrons were tasked for all three missions; and in accordance with standard Air Force nomenclature, they were identified as flying the “A/OA-10.” In this book, however, we use the convention “A-10” for all Hogs, regardless of squadron, tail number, or mission.

Current A-10 Roles and Missions

    The number and complexity of A-10 missions have increased dramatically since the end of the Cold War. Until Operation Desert Storm, Hog squadrons trained almost exclusively for high-intensity combat against Warsaw Pact–style integrated air defense systems (IADS) and massed armor formations. As a result, A-10 pilot training and weapons loads were optimized for daytime, low-altitude CAS missions in joint operations with Army units. In addition, A-10 pilots practiced some daytime, low-altitude air interdiction (AI). Night flying focused on in-flight refueling and instrument flying to facilitate deployments. Only those highly qualified pilots who had attended weapons school (the United States Air Force [USAF] Fighter Weapons Instructor Course) were qualified for CSAR missions. The remaining unit pilots, even the very experienced ones, had no CSAR training.
    The A-10 picked up the AFAC mission in the late 1980s as the Air Force retired the OV-10 and OA-37 from its active inventory. The Hogs were designated as OA-10s, formed into tactical air support squadrons, and flew the AFAC mission exclusively, as had the OV-10 and OA-37 units before them. Pilots in OA-10 units were not qualified in ground-attack missions and generally did not carry offensive air-to-ground weapons. In Operation Desert Storm separate A-10 and OA-10 squadrons were tasked and employed in attack and AFAC roles. That changed in 1995, and from that point forward all A-10 squadrons became responsible for all A-10 missions.
    During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, A-10 squadrons developed tactics for medium altitude and night employment in response to post–Cold War changes in threats, targets, and geography specific to the Southwest Asian theater and its particular circumstances. Since then, the emphasis in A-10 tasking and tactics development has continued to steadily move from only daytime, low-altitude missions towards daytime and nighttime, medium-altitude missions.
    The missions flown by A-10 units in Operation Allied Force and the way they developed and evolved over time are described in more detail in the beginning of chapter 2. Lt Col Goldie Haun also provides a detailed look at the history of attacking fielded forces during the period that followed Vietnam through the operations in Kosovo (see appendix). Air Force Doctrine Document 2-1.3, Counterland, provides definitive, up-to-date descriptions of these missions.

Close Air Support

    The CAS mission is principally characterized by the aircrew’s detailed coordination and integration with the “supported” ground units, and the attack of targets in “close” proximity to those friendly troops. CAS is the classic mission celebrated in movies when threatened troops “call for air.” Soon after the call, aircraft attack the menacing enemy while under the firm control of an airborne or ground forward air controller (FAC) and within view of the friendly soldiers. CAS is high-intensity combat operations made difficult by the unacceptable possibility of fratricide, and all A-10 units regularly practice it. Air Warrior I exercises at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), Nevada, focus on supporting large ground-unit maneuvers, while Air Warrior II exercises at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, concentrate on low-intensity combat and are often conducted in urban settings.
    CAS can be flown during the day or at night and at low or medium altitudes. Since CAS is a direct fire-support mission for ground maneuver, supporting those ground forces in what they are attempting to accomplish becomes the key factor in determining how to employ the A-10.
    During Operation Allied Force there was no CAS tasking since there were no friendly ground troops engaged in hostilities. At the end of the conflict and as a precaution, A-10s were assigned airborne and ground-alert CAS missions for several weeks as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) deployed ground forces into Kosovo.

Air Interdiction

    Air interdiction, according to Department of Defense (DOD) and NATO documents, is the use of air operations to destroy, neutralize, or delay the enemy’s military potential (enemy forces, combat support, logistics, and infrastructure) before it can engage friendly forces; the airpower is employed at such distance from friendly forces that detailed integration of each air mission sortie with the fire and movement of friendly forces is not required. During the Cold War, NATO doctrine clearly distinguished between deep interdiction against fixed targets such as bridges and fuel depots, and battlefield air interdiction (BAI) against second-echelon mobile forces. These definitions and the Cold War environment led to broad corporate agreement on which aircraft would be appropriate to use in various roles and on specific types of targets. Even today, long after the end of the Cold War and the significant changes in the nature of potential enemy threats, many military and civilian observers hold outdated, stereotypical views on interdiction. For example, many analysts still argue that F-15Es should only be used to attack bridges and radar sites deep in enemy territory and that A-10s should be limited to attacking tanks close to friendly forces. Current Air Force doctrine recognizes that many factors (e.g., threats, targets, terrain, weather, and political considerations) must be considered when deciding how to best employ airpower in the interdiction mission. The selection of the right asset to achieve specific interdiction objectives cannot be preordained but must be the result of careful analysis.
    Almost all OAF missions in Kosovo were AI, or in support of AI, since enemy ground forces were never engaged against friendly ground forces. As we will see, a wide range of aircraft—A-10s, AV-8Bs, F-15Es, B-52s, and numerous other NATO aircraft—successfully attacked mobile and fixed Serb targets in and around Kosovo.

Airborne Forward Air Control

    Forward air control is the generic term for the direction of offensive-air-support missions in close proximity to friendly ground troops. The term forward control is opposed to rear control, which refers to the coordination of air strikes by either a ground-based air support operations center or an EC-130E airborne battlefield command and control center (ABCCC). The person directing the air strikes, the FAC, can be deployed with the ground forces or in an aircraft as an AFAC or FAC[A]. Joint documents have adopted the acronym FAC(A), although many Air Force unit instruction manuals have used and still use AFAC. No matter what they are called or where they are located, the FAC is the final clearance authority for an attacking pilot to expend weapons near friendly forces.
    Controlling OAF air strikes in the absence of friendly ground forces did not meet the current definition of CAS by either joint or Air Force (AF) doctrine. The latter defines killer scouts as attack aircraft used for AI in an armed reconnaissance role to validate and mark targets for dedicated attack missions against lucrative targets in a specified geographic zone—pretty much the role we had in OAF. The A-10 community, however, has for years used air strike control (ASC) to describe directing aircraft strikes under any circumstance. I will avoid any further discussion of these definitions because I believe that what we did in OAF was FACing in the classical sense. An inaccurate bomb dropped on targets in Kosovo would have had such a severe, negative impact on the coalition’s unity and commitment that FACs in the classical role were required to ensure positive target identification, control attacking aircraft, and prevent inadvertent attacks on innocent civilians. In Kosovo, innocent civilians were in close proximity to the enemy, and for all practical considerations, these missions took on the same urgency and significance as CAS. The airmen who directed and flew these sorties kept their doctrinal terms simple and consistently referred to the control of any air strike as FACing and the pilots as FACs or AFACs. The authors will follow that convention throughout this book.
    Traditionally, flying an AFAC mission is like being a traffic cop in the sky. The first duty of the AFAC is to know the ground situation in detail, including the ground commander’s intended scheme of maneuver and objectives throughout the day’s battle. Prior to takeoff, AFACs study the target areas, the types of fighter aircraft they will control on those targets, and the munitions those aircraft will bring to the fight. Once airborne, the AFAC checks in with E-3 airborne warning and control system (AWACS) and ABCCC controllers to get updates on the air and ground situation and starts adjusting the game plan. Nearing the target area—if appropriate—he contacts the ground FAC and organizes the list of targets with the strike aircraft on the way. If armed with appropriate ordnance, the AFAC can begin attacking targets while waiting for the strikers. The AFAC authenticates the strikers when they arrive, using a challenge-and-response code to confirm their identity and preclude the enemy’s use of tactical deception. He then updates the strikers on the target area and passes a standardized target-attack briefing. That briefing includes target type, coordinates, timing factors, weapons to employ, threats relative to the target location, and restrictions on the attack heading (to ensure that no friendly forces, noncombatants, sensitive areas, or structures are damaged by the fighter’s ordnance).
    After all this preparation and coordination, the attack finally begins with the AFAC getting the strikers’ “eyes on target” by using visual descriptions, “marking” the target with ordnance, or both. The AFAC usually fires rockets with a white phosphorous charge, known as a “Willy Pete,” that blooms on impact to mark the target. However, he can use anything, such as an exploding bomb or a burning vehicle that had been previously attacked, that will help focus the fight lead’s eyes on the target. After the flight lead confirms the target location, the AFAC clears the flight to expend ordnance on the target, repeating any heading or other attack restrictions. The AFAC watches the fighters and the target area throughout the attack to provide visual warning for enemy surface-to-air fire and to ensure that the fighters really are following the attack heading required and are aiming at the right target. If in doubt, the AFAC can terminate the fighters’ attack by using the abort code passed in the formatted brief.
    After the leader drops on the target, the AFAC adjusts the aim point for each of the successive wingman’s deliveries, based on the results of the previous attacks. The AFAC continues to control the formation’s attack until the strikers run out of weapons, fuel, or time on station—whichever comes first. The AFAC then directs the fighters’ egress direction and altitude to deconflict with inbound fighters.
    In addition to the A-10s, two F-16CG squadrons from Aviano Air Base (AB), Italy, and the F-14s from the USS Theodore Roosevelt, in the Adriatic, also flew as AFACs. Naturally, these three very different aircraft performed the AFAC mission quite differently. For target acquisition, F-16s and F-14s used targeting pods that provided a magnified in-the-cockpit picture of the target area while A-10 pilots flew with gyrostabilized 12- or 15-power binoculars, which they often called “binos.” In much of the weather conditions during OAF, binos had much better visual resolution than targeting pods.
    A-10s flew more than 1,000 AFAC missions during the 78 days of the OAF air campaign. Thousands of allied aircraft, representing practically every attack aircraft in the NATO inventory, were controlled by A-10s. The specifics of how A-10s performed the OAF AFAC mission are discussed in chapter 2.

Combat Search and Rescue

    CSAR—possibly the most audacious Air Force mission—is made possible by airmen who dare to penetrate bad-guy land and recover recently shot down aviators from under the very nose of the enemy—an enemy who has many reasons for wanting to capture hapless aviators and is all too eager to do so. Those aviators are usually downed in combat and in the course of expending ordnance on the enemy’s troops. The enemy knows that the potential prize can be exploited for intelligence (intel), propaganda, and other political ends—not to mention the pleasure of retribution. For example, during the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein tried to use photos and videos of captured aviators to negatively affect allied public support for the air campaign.
    With the increased use of airpower as the first instrument for coercion and peacemaking, the capture of an airman becomes more likely and could provide an enemy with a method of influencing public opinions, especially within allied democracies. An enemy may try to force “confessions” and intel disclosures from captured aviators. Dictators have demonstrated a willingness to subject helpless and, perhaps, wounded air warriors to public ridicule for political advantage without regard to the prisoner-of-war protections afforded by the Geneva convention. With the desire to support and maintain the high morale of allied airmen—and deny the enemy any opportunity for a propaganda advantage—the United States and its NATO allies place CSAR at the top of their “must have” capabilities in their combat planning.
    During the preparations for OAF, NATO commanders ensured the availability of adequate CSAR forces. The size and nature of those forces reflected the specific combat circumstances. There are two crucial elements to CSAR success: a recovery vehicle to pick up the survivors and an on-scene commander (OSC) who locates the survivor, protects him or her if necessary, and directs the recovery vehicle to come forward when the area is safe. The recovery vehicle is usually a rescue or special forces helicopter, and the OSC is usually a specially trained A-10 pilot. However, other vehicles and pilots are capable of performing these functions, and there may be many other CSAR actors when the enemy threat is medium to high. These other elements could include the air-refueling tankers; a C-130 ABCCC to provide overall mission coordination and tracking of airborne assets; air-to-air fighters to provide air defense; F-16CJs and other similarly equipped aircraft to provide suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) and protection against enemy radar-guided surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems; jamming aircraft such as EA-6Bs; and any type of strike aircraft to provide air-to-ground firepower against enemy ground forces attempting to capture the survivors. These aircraft are often already in the target area performing their primary combat missions when the need arises, and they are then retasked to support the CSAR effort.
    Another important element of the CSAR forces is the NATO airborne early warning (NAEW) aircraft, which provides radar coverage and directions to the tankers. The NAEW uses the E-3A aircraft, but its communications equipment is more limited than that of the USAF AWACS, and its aircrews are trained differently than US aircrews. These differences result in a lesser overall capability.
    The specially trained and designated CSAR on-scene commanders have carried the Sandy call sign since the Vietnam War. Due to the difficulty and complexity of the mission, only the most experienced and capable A-10 pilots are selected to train as Sandys. They must stay cool and use exceptional judgment to find and talk to the survivor without giving away information to the enemy, who may also be listening or watching. The Sandy must have an extraordinary situational awareness to keep track of the survivor, numerous support aircraft, rescue helicopters, and enemy activity on the ground. An accurate synthesis of this information is absolutely critical to the success of the Sandy’s decision to commit to a helo pickup. Additionally, all CSAR participants must have unshakeable courage because their mission often means going deep into bad-guy land and exposure to significant ground and air threats.
    In the Balkan theater the dedicated CSAR assets included MH-53J Pave Low helicopters from the 20th and 21st Special Operations Squadrons at Royal Air Force (RAF) Mildenhall, England. They had deployed regularly to Brindisi AB, Italy, since the mid-1990s. The A-10 Sandy aircraft were usually from the 81st FS/EFS (expeditionary fighter squadrons) from Spangdahlem AB, Germany, flying out of Aviano AB, and Gioia del Colle AB, Italy. During the years of routine deployments (from 1993 to 1999), these units flew CSAR exercises together in Bosnia with support from the NAEW and ABCCC but with little involvement with SEAD, air-to-air, or other attack aircraft. During this time, A-10 Sandys occasionally exercised with Italian and French forces using their Puma helicopters as recovery vehicles.
    The first Kosovo crisis in October and November of 1998 led to the Spangdahlem Hogs being sent to Aviano to “stand up” a CSAR alert. At that time, the 81st pilots initiated the development of standardized CSAR procedures for the Balkan area by coordinating with personnel assigned to the CSAR cell at the combined air operations center (CAOC) in Vicenza, Italy, and representatives (rep) from the theater’s NAEW, ABCCC, and Pave Low communities. They renewed that process of coordination and cooperation during their return to Aviano in January, February, and March 1999. With the beginning of hostilities on 24 March, the 81st “stood up” a ground and airborne CSAR alert capability. With only a single two-hour exception on 11 April (during the 81st’s move from Aviano to Gioia del Colle), the 81st—along with the 74th FS and the 131st FS—maintained a continuous ground and/or airborne alert through-out the campaign. During the course of the air campaign, CSAR was 100 percent effective, successfully rescuing one F-117 pilot and one F-16CG pilot. Seven Hog drivers from the 81st and two from the 74th participated in those rescues—making crucial decisions at critical junctures, as well as ensuring that the pilots were picked up and that the helos made it in and out safely. Their personal accounts appear in subsequent chapters.

A-10 Weapons

    The Hog can carry a wide variety of weapons—and a bunch of them. On the in-flight mission cards Aviano planners listed the standard munitions load in a column labeled for each aircraft so the AFAC could quickly match the right weapon to the right target. These cards were distributed to all units involved in the Kosovo Engagement Zone (KEZ) and showed most aircraft as having one or two types of weapons available. Under the A-10 label, however, the column just reads, “Lots.”
    Because the Hog has 11 suspension points for hanging weapons, missile rails, and electronic countermeasures, A-10 units in OAF could easily mix and match weapons based on day or night, AFAC, strike, or CSAR missions. The standard items for all A-10 missions included an AN/ALQ-131 electronic countermeasures pod; two AIM-9M Sidewinder heatseeking air-to-air missiles on a single dual-rail launcher; a Pave Penny laser-spot-tracker pod; a GAU-8 Avenger cannon (a 30 mm, seven-barrel Gatling gun) loaded with a combat mix of 1,150 depleted-uranium armor-piercing and high-explosive shells; and two AGM-65D Maverick missiles with imaging infrared (IIR) guidance and a large 125-pound (lb) cone-shaped-charge warhead. For day AFAC and CSAR alert sorties, the 81st loaded two pods of seven Willy Pete rockets for marking targets and two versatile Mk-82 “slick” 500 lb bombs with airburst radar fuses set to explode at about five meters above ground.
A-10 mission loads during OAF
    These bombs did a great job of marking targets—even from 20,000 feet, any pilot could see a 500 lb bomb exploding, especially an airburst that made even more smoke than a groundburst. Airburst bombs were also more tactically viable against dug-in or soft, mobile targets. While slick, unguided bombs dropped by a Hog with no radar are fairly accurate, they are not precision weapons by any stretch of the imagination. An airburst gives the weapon a good chance of inflicting blast and shrapnel damage on the softer parts of an artillery piece inside an open revetment. A 500 lb bomb with a contact fuse that hits just one meter outside the target’s revetment is good only for making a lot of noise. After the first week of AFAC missions, the 81st decided to carry two additional airburst Mk-82 bombs. With only 1,000 lbs of extra weight and very little extra drag, they provided additional capability to attack targets when other fighters were not available.
Loading Mk-82 slicks on an A-10 (USAF Photo)
    For night AFAC and CSAR missions, A-10 units replaced Willy Pete rockets with flare rockets that illuminated the target area for pilots wearing night vision goggles (NVG)—standard for all A-10 night operations. These rockets contained a canister that opened after launch and deployed a ground-illumination flare which then slowly descended by parachute and provided the Hog driver with up to three minutes of infrared (IR) illumination of ground targets and enemy activities.
    On A-10s tasked for strike sorties, but without AFAC duties, we swapped out our two rocket pods for two cluster bomb units (CBU). We selected the CBU-87 combined effects munition (CEM) because of its effectiveness against many target types. Since both the rocket pods and CEM create significant drag on an already slow Hog, we never carried both at the same time. These CEM cluster bombs opened up and dispensed bomblets over a significant area, with warheads that had fragmentation, incendiary, and antiarmor kill mechanisms. CBU-87s gave the Hog pilots the ability to damage targets without using precision-guided ordnance.
Loading a combined effects munition (CBU-87) on an A-10 (USAF Photo)
    Given the missions A-10s fly, particularly CAS, and the lethality of the weapons they employ, one can understand why A-10 pilots learned to “speak Army,” read maps, and become familiar with the little unit symbols and phase lines Army officers are so fond of putting on maps. These capabilities are why Hog drivers and maintainers tend to be the liaison of understanding between the fast-mover Air Force and the guys who pound sand and eat snakes for a living. Having already mentioned a few of the A-10 units involved in OAF, the chapter now introduces the rest of the Hog units and their commanders.

A-10 Units in Operation Allied Force

    During OAF, pilots assigned to eight fighter squadrons flew A-10s from five of those squadrons to form three EFSs at two deployed locations (Aviano AB/Gioia del Colle AB and Trapani AB, Sicily). The 81st FS became the 81st EFS, began OAF while deployed to Aviano AB, and then moved to Gioia del Colle AB on 11 April 1999. Pilots from the 70th FS, 74th FS, and 75th FS flew five 74th FS aircraft and formed the 74th EFS. They joined the 81st EFS at Gioia del Colle under the operational control (OPCON) of the 40th Expeditionary Operations Group (EOG). Pilots and aircraft from three Air National Guard A-10 units (103d, 172d, and 190th FSs) formed the 131st EFS, organized under the 104th EOG, at Trapani AB. The 40th EOG and the 104th EOG were organized with the 52d EOG (F-16/F-117) at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, to make up the 52d Air Expeditionary Wing (AEW).
A-10 leads fellow 52d AEW aircraft past a German castle. The wing also included a deployed F-117 FS. (USAF Photo by SMSgt Rose Reynolds)

81st Fighter Squadron “Panthers”

    During the 1993 Air Force restructuring, the 81st FS, known as the “Panthers,” stood up as part of the 52d Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, with some personnel and aircraft from the deactivated 81st Fighter Wing at RAF Bentwaters, England. Subsequently, the 81st FS deployed many times to the Balkan theater, and, until the spring of 1997, a portion of the squadron maintained a near-continuous presence at Aviano AB, Italy, in support of AFAC operations over Bosnia. At that time the 31st AEW, based at Aviano AB and flying F-16CGs, relieved the 81st by assuming the Bosnia AFAC tasking. Afterward, the 81st FS Panthers only were required to operate out of Aviano when the situation in the former Yugoslavia called for additional capability, or when the F-16s were deployed and unable to fulfill the AFAC mission. As a consequence of this arrangement, the Panthers began a one-month deployment to Aviano AB in January 1999 with six aircraft and 100 personnel to backfill their F-16 AFAC counterparts—the 510th FS, nicknamed “Buzzards.” In response to the growing Kosovo crisis, the 81st increased its presence to 15 A-10s and 170 personnel before the outbreak of hostilities on 24 March. During this time, the Panthers flew CAS and AFAC sorties in Bosnia supporting Operation Deliberate Force. With timely approval, the Panthers also were able to practice CSAR operations with US, Italian, and French air force and navy rescue helicopters.
A-10s of the 81st EFS at Gioia del Colle AB, Italy (USAF Photo)
OAF theater of operations
    The 81st repositioned all of its personnel and aircraft on 11 April from Aviano to Gioia del Colle. With three additional Spangdahlem aircraft, the 81st was then equipped with 18 A-10s and conducted combat operations until the end of hostilities on 9 June. The squadron continued to maintain CSAR and CAS ground alert for the following two weeks. Most Panther A-10s returned to Spangdahlem on 28 June, with the last six flying home on 11 July. Lt Col Chris “Kimos” Haave commanded the 81st EFS.

74th Fighter Squadron “Flying Tigers”

    The 74th EFS was formed initially with personnel and aircraft of the 74th FS Flying Tigers, Pope AFB, North Carolina, in response to a US European Command (EUCOM) request for four additional aircraft. After the success of the 81st’s AFAC missions in early April, EUCOM decided to increase the A-10 presence over Kosovo. To ensure the availability of four operationally ready jets, the 74th FS answered the call with five “Hogs with teeth” (Flying Tiger aircraft maintained the shark’s teeth nose-art tradition of World War II) and nine pilots with a good mix of abilities, including the invaluable AFAC and CSAR qualifications. Later, the 74th EFS at Gioia del Colle received six more pilots from the 74th and 75th FSs at Pope and the 70th FS at Moody AFB, Georgia. After Serb president Slobodan Milosevic’s capitulation, the Flying Tigers began their return to Pope on 24 June. Maj John “Scratch” Regan commanded the 74th EFS.
74th EFS patch and Flying Tiger nose art (USAF Photo)

40th Expeditionary Operations Group

    United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) stood up the 40th EOG on 11 April when the 81st EFS redeployed to Gioia del Colle. The 40th initially included the 81st EFS, the 40th Expeditionary Logistics Squadron (ELS), and the 40th Expeditionary Support Squadron (ESS). When the 74th EFS arrived in-theater, it became part of the 40th EOG and integrated completely in the day-to-day operations of the group. Throughout this book, the 40th EOG will be synonymous with “A-10s at Gioia.” Col Alan E. Thompson commanded the 40th EOG.
Col Al Thompson after flying a mission in the KEZ (USAF Photo)

104th Expeditionary Operations Group

    The 103d FS, Barnes Air National Guard (ANG) Base, Massachusetts; 172d FS, Battle Creek ANG Base, Michigan; and 190th FS, Boise ANG Base, Idaho, contributed six aircraft each to form the 131st EFS under the OPCON of the 104th EOG. With only a few days’ warning, members of these three units organized an 18-aircraft EFS, deployed, and, by 19 May, established operations at Trapani AB, on the western coast of Sicily. Since the commonly used names of these three units all started with the same letter (Barnes, Battle Creek, and Boise), they collectively called themselves the “Killer Bees.” Their two weapons-instructor pilots arrived at Gioia del Colle several days ahead of the rest of the advance team and flew their first combat missions with the Panthers and the Flying Tigers. They were able to get a first look at the target areas and gain experience working with numerous NATO aircraft. Because the 104th EOG included many veteran instructor pilots and maintainers with lots of years of deployed operational experience, the Killer Bees were able to quickly commence operations in the unfamiliar, Spartan-like facilities. Staying true to the expeditionary Hog mind-set, the 131st EFS launched their first combat sorties on 21 May, within days of their arrival at Trapani. They participated in all A-10 missions for the remainder of the hostilities and returned to their bases in late June. Col Daniel Swift, from Barnes ANG Base, commanded the 104th EOG.

31st Air Expeditionary Wing and 31st Expeditionary Operations Group

    The 31st AEW was the host unit at Aviano AB and had OPCON of the 81st EFS from January 1999 until the Panthers’ departure for Gioia del Colle on 11 April 1999. As such, the 31st AEW provided invaluable direction as well as operational and logistical support as the 81st flew its first combat missions over Serbia. Brig Gen Daniel P. Leaf commanded the 31st AEW, and Col Jeffrey Eberhart commanded the 31st EOG.

52d Air Expeditionary Wing

    The 52d AEW at Spangdahlem was one of three fighter wings in USAFE and the home unit for the 81st FS. After the 81st EFS moved from Aviano to Gioia del Colle, the 52d stood up the 40th EOG at Gioia del Colle. Through the 40th EOG, the 52d AEW reestablished OPCON over the 81st EFS and the 74th EFS. It later stood up the 104th EOG at Trapani to provide OPCON and support for the 131st EFS. The 52d AEW had OPCON over three EOGs—the two A-10 EOGs in Italy and the 52d EOG at Spangdahlem AB, the group responsible for two squadrons of F-16CJs and one squadron of F-117 Nighthawks. Brig Gen Scott P. Van Cleef commanded the 52d AEW, and Col Jan-Marc Jouas commanded the 52d EOG.
Col Al Thompson, 40th EOG/CC; Brig Gen Scott Van Cleef, 52d AEW/CC; and Lt Col Chris Haave, 81st EFS/ CC, at Gioia del Colle AB, Italy (USAF Photo)

Allied Air Forces Southern Europe and Sixteenth Air Force

    Lt Gen Michael C. Short was a dual-hatted US/NATO commander, directing both USAFE’s Sixteenth Air Force, headquartered at Aviano AB, and NATO’s Allied Air Forces Southern Europe (AIRSOUTH), headquartered at Naples, Italy. As a NATO commander, his subordinate units included Interim Combined Air Operations Center 5 (ICAOC-5, hereafter CAOC) at Vicenza. During combat operations, General Short spent most of his time at Vicenza.
    The following chapters describe particular aspects of A-10 missions that helped defeat the Serbian army on the ground—an accomplishment made possible by the efforts of Hog drivers and their control of allied high-tech airpower over Kosovo.
Lt Gen Mike Short, Sixteenth Air Force commander, speaking to troops as Lt Col Chris Haave observes (USAF Photo)

Chapter 2


Lt Col Chris “Kimos” Haave

    The car almost drove itself as it twisted down the mountain road from Mister C’s Antares Hotel in Piancavallo to Aviano AB, Italy. Capt John A. “Buster” Cherrey and I had been up and down this road often enough to unconsciously negotiate the sharp turns in the darkness in our mighty Fiat Punto. What interested us most, at 0130 on that morning of 30 March, was the clearing sky visible for 10s of miles to the south. From the switchbacks on the south side of the Dolomite Mountains, we could look down the Adriatic Sea in the direction of Kosovo and then, looking up, could see bright stars through the thin layers of stratus clouds.
    As we pulled up to the 510th FS (F-16CG) building, we saw many other cars in the parking lots and noticed a hubbub of activity in the cramped quarters of our generous hosts, the Buzzards. Our squadron, the 81st FS Panthers, had shared its small operations building since 7 January, and it had come to feel like home. In the main briefing room that morning, we would brief the first-ever large, multinational force package to participate in an AFAC mission. It was also the first time in combat history that A-10s would lead such a large mission package. The package would include the following aircraft types: NAEW, E-8 joint surveillance, joint surveillance target attack radar system (JSTARS), ABCCC, Dutch F-16AM air defender, F-16CJ SEAD, EA-6B electronic jammer, F-15Es, French Super Etendard, and British GR-7 Harrier striker.
Combat-loaded A-10 taking off from Aviano with the Dolomite Mountains in the background (USAF Photo by SrA Stan Parker)

Leading a Large, Multinational Force Package

    It was not obvious that A-10s would, or even should, lead this highly visible and complex mission. While we had deployed to Aviano on 7 January to backfill the Buzzard’s AFAC tasking, we had focused on preparing for the CSAR mission from the time of our arrival to the first OAF air strikes on 24 March. We had flown AFAC sorties in Bosnia and participated in practice interdiction packages, but we spent most of our time training for CSAR, with our own pilots and our likely collaborators—US Special Forces and Italian and French helicopter crews. We had also coordinated extensively with the ABCCC and NAEW crews and provided them with standardized CSAR checklists and procedures.
    The A-10s initially had a low priority for mission resources.
    We knew that the CAOC was serious about ensuring a ready CSAR capability, but since CSAR was a foggy notion for most fast-mover aviators, we had to fight long and hard to ensure we had what we needed to accomplish that mission. For example, the plan for the 24 March start of the OAF air campaign called for our A-10s to be on CSAR ground alert at Aviano AB. Tankers were in short supply, and all noncritical refueling had been eliminated. Since our A-10s cruise at only 300 knots, it was obvious to us that it would take more than two hours to reach and help recover an airman who might be shot down striking targets 600 miles away in Serbia. We convinced the planners that our response time was too long, and they agreed to let us fly an airborne CSAR alert over the Adriatic, without scheduled air-to-air refueling support. We would take fuel from an unscheduled tanker (aka bootleg a tanker) only if a shoot down occurred. After the successful 27 March rescue of the F-117 pilot (Vega 31), our priority for resources increased, and a dedicated tanker was routinely scheduled to support the Sandys on airborne alert.
    Before March and except for us, few people thought about using A-10s to attack ground targets. During the weeks between the end of our planned 30-day Operation Deliberate Force rotation and the start of OAF on 24 March, we had quietly increased the number of our A-10s deployed to Aviano from six to 15. Part of the buildup was consciously approved through all channels. We had convinced the CAOC that CSAR alert for both northern and southern Serbia would require a minimum of eight combat-ready A-10s with at least two spares. Some of the other forward-deployed Hogs were the consequence of the 31st AEW’s approving our requests to park more jets in its allotted area and the dynamics of moving crews and aircraft in and out of Aviano. For example, after six weeks at Aviano, I had returned to Spangdahlem on 7 March and left Lt Col Mark “Coke” Koechle, the 81st operations officer, in charge of our detachment of 12 A-10s. Two weeks later we received the warning order to be ready to go on 24 March. I returned with a two-ship of A-10s to Aviano, increasing our force to 14. A couple of days later, another Hog pilot transported some critically needed parts to Aviano, and, voilà, we had 15 A-10s—our force structure at the beginning of OAF.
    How would these Hogs be used? Our recent Bosnia experience (1994 and 1995) convinced us that our bosses would ask for A-10 expertise when we began to engage fielded forces. Maj Goldie Haun, our squadron’s weapons and tactics officer, had already given this question much thought and had prepared a concept on how to conduct AFAC-led NATO force packages against fielded forces. On 12 March Colonel Johnson and Colonel Carpenter (CAOC division chiefs for operations [C3] and plans [C5]) came to Aviano to discuss employment concepts with Col Jeffrey Eberhart (our 31st EOG commander). Coke and Goldie were invited to their meeting, and Goldie quickly briefed them on his AFAC concept. During the next two days, FS weapons officers and leadership representatives (rep) from the 81st (A-10s), 510th and 555th (F-16CGs), 23d (F-16CJ), and 492d and 494th (F-15Es) hashed out the plan’s details. The result was Goldie’s plan, which had A-10s leading the day missions and F-16CGs leading the night missions.
    The plan was briefed to Brig Gen Dan Leaf, commander of the 31st AEW, on the morning of 15 March by Colonel Eberhart and Maj “Bro” Broderick (31st AEW’s weapons chief). General Leaf gave it a “thumbs up.” Presumably, since the current campaign plan called for night operations only, there was no discussion of A-10 AFACs. They were mentioned solely in the context of CSAR. After Bro’s briefing, Goldie lobbied hard to include A-10 daytime AFAC missions in Colonel Eberhart’s briefing to Lt Gen Mike Short. General Short, as the dual-hatted commander of USAFE’s Sixteenth Air Force and NATO’s AIRSOUTH, was briefed that afternoon and approved the plan to use F-16s as the primary night AFACs and A-10s as the primary day AFACs. The concept was titled the Combined Air Interdiction of Fielded Forces (CAIFF).
    Lt Col Gregory A. “Snoopy” Schulze, my predecessor as the commander of the 81st FS, was then stationed at Ramstein AB, Germany, as the chief of USAFE’s flying standardization and evaluation. He had been tasked to take the briefing General Short had approved and make it ready for presentation to Gen John P. Jumper, the USAFE commander, and Gen Wesley K. Clark, who was dual-hatted as supreme allied commander Europe (SACEUR) and combatant commander, United States European Command. During his preparation Snoopy called me at Aviano to get additional details on two unique A-10 target-acquisition capabilities—our binoculars and Pave Penny. Our hand-carried, gyrostabilized 12- and 15-power binos provided a sharper, more color-contrastive, and larger image than the low-altitude navigation and targeting infrared for night (LANTIRN) targeting pod. With the aircraft-mounted Pave Penny laser-spot tracker, we could confirm that another aircraft’s targeting laser was designating the right target before we allowed the pilot to release weapons.
    Snoopy called later to say that the CAIFF concept was approved. It was great to get SACEUR to buy the concept, but it was another challenge to translate that concept into a coherent tactical plan that would work in flight. Some expressed concern that circling A-10s over known threats—radar-guided missiles, radar-directed antiaircraft artillery (AAA) sites, and an abundance of man-portable missiles—would be asking to get shot down. Those folks thought the best way to attack Serb armor would be to assemble a strike package just to the south of Kosovo. When alerted by JSTARS of the exact location of a convoy on the move, the attack package could push forward and attack. Still other aviators thought A-10s would be particularly vulnerable due to their large size, slow speed, and radar cross section. Jim Bitterman, for example, was an exasperating nonaviator “expert” and Cable News Network (CNN) correspondent who habitually reported from the end of Aviano’s runway. He generally provided an informative, accurate, and useful commentary. However, as he observed A-10s taking off, he would invariably intone “the low, slow, vulnerable A-10” and muse that we really had no reason to fly in this campaign. Of course, the media did not yet know that Hogs had successfully led the rescue of the F-117 pilot and that they were getting ready to lead the very first attacks on fielded Serb forces.
    We ignored those affronts and continued to work on our plan. We knew that no professional army would drive around in convoys, waiting to be picked off like ducks at a carnival—at least, not more than once. We also knew that even tanks would be very hard to find once the Serb ground forces hunkered down in the hilly, forested terrain spotted with villages. Most of all, we were convinced that any Serb foolish enough to open fire on a flight of Hogs would make himself an easy target and a big loser in any weapons exchange.
    The CAOC order, which gave us three days to prepare, stated that day-only CAIFF operations would commence 30 March and would be led by A-10s. We speculated that this decision, more than anything else, reflected the need for positive target identification—a task for which the A-10 and its pilots were well suited. Leading these large force packages would pose a new challenge for the Panthers. Although our weapons officers had led large force packages as part of their USAF Weapons School graduation exercise, no one had ever put a mission like this together—with these kinds of targets and so many NATO participants. By contrast, the F-16CG mission commanders who so ably led the first interdiction strikes on 24 March had been practicing AI packages in Bosnia for weeks, and had even done a couple of “dress rehearsals” for the day-one strikes. We would get no such practice—or so we thought.
    Coke, Goldie, Buster, and I, with a lot of help, worked intensely during those few days. We coordinated with reps of all the plan’s players: NAEW, ABCCC, JSTARS, tanker, SEAD, jammer, air defender, and striker aircraft. We then put the final touches on our command and control procedures, frequencies, airspace deconfliction, attack coordination, and tactics—basically, all the details a good plan requires. The CAOC directed the force to operate over Kosovo for three hours, an operational constraint which reflected the limited availability of F-16CJ SEAD, EA-6B jammer, and tanker aircraft. The CAIFF mission did not have top priority, so to save on tankers, we used Lakenheath F-15Es. They were there primarily to fly in the air defense orbit that day and would then come down and be our first strikers if we found something. This was a win-win situation, since each of the highly respected Strike Eagles carried six 500 lb laser-guided bombs (LGB) under each wing! For airspace and target-area deconfliction, we split Kosovo into two sectors, with aircraft entering and exiting via Albania into the western half and via Macedonia for the eastern half. We planned to launch a total of eight A-10s. Two two-ship flights would cover the first 45 minutes in each of two sectors, with the other two two-ships swapping in as the first four went to the tanker. We planned to repeat this rotation to cover our 3-hour “vulnerability,” or “vul,” period. I would be the mission commander on the first day, with Goldie as my deputy leading the second four-ship. On the second day Buster would lead, with me as his deputy. Coke would fly on day one in my foursome as the element lead in the opposite sector. My wingman would be Maj Wade “Biggles” Thompson.
    I walked into the 510th that morning exactly 30 minutes prior to the time of the mass briefing and exactly 12 hours after leaving the afternoon before. That was as late as I could arrive and still be prepared for the briefing and as early as I could arrive to meet “crew rest” requirements. The hubbub in the hallways took on an ominous tone as a breathless major, who worked in the “Wingtip” (31st AEW’s planning cell), ran up to us with maps in hand. He said, “The CAOC didn’t get approval to use Macedonian airspace to attack Kosovo and you’ll all have to go through Albania. I’ve got some new proposed orbit points on these maps.” This was not good news. The F-15Es would be the only fighters that would be allowed to fly through Macedonian airspace, since they were categorized as air defense. Everyone else—the F-16CJ SEAD patterns, the EA-6B jammer orbits, the two dozen strikers, and us (the AFACs)—would all have to assemble in northern Albania. Moreover, our new plan had to be ready in less than 30 minutes. A mission’s execution often reflects the quality, discipline, and tone set in the briefing. We started the brief with a punctual time-hack—there was no way we were going to begin our first mission command with a late hack and set a less-than-professional precedent! In short, the planning and briefing worked out fine and we launched on time.
    The weather, however, was not going to cooperate. Because of the weather and the day-one rules of engagement (ROE), we were unable to engage any targets. Those ROEs attempted to limit risk in an uncertain threat environment by restricting operations to not lower than 17,500 feet and a penetration of not more than 10 miles into Kosovo. Now, 17,500 feet is fine for an aircraft with plenty of thrust and precision-guided munitions (PGM). Its pilot can acquire the aim point using its targeting pod, fly a straight-and-level weapons-delivery pass, and then release its LGBs. A Hog driver, however, must enter a dive and point its nose at the target to expend weapons. At that altitude, a pilot has to enter a steep dive to acquire the target within release parameters. A jet engine’s ability to produce thrust decreases with an increase in altitude, and the thrust required to sustain flight increases with extra weight and drag. It is, therefore, easy to understand why a Hog’s maximum employment altitude is reduced when it’s fully loaded. So our challenge was to find targets from as high an altitude as possible, maneuver the aircraft to put the nose on that target, get a weapons lock-on, launch the missile, and recover without busting the 17,500-foot “hard deck” (minimum altitude, period—not just the minimum weapons-release altitude). Our choice was to operate within this ROE or be slow-speed cheerleaders. On that first mission Biggles and I were working in western Kosovo, south of the town of Pec. I found a hole in the clouds and, using my binoculars, identified a single convoy of four small, dark-green-painted armored cars driving south with military spacing between them. Leaving Biggles up at 22,000 feet, I gingerly pushed the stick forward, lowered the nose, and attempted a Maverick missile lock-on, but my altitude alert sounded just as I brought the armored cars in my TV screen and before I could slew the missile to get a lock. I had set the alert to 1,000 feet above the hard deck, which reflected the amount of altitude I would lose during my dive recovery. Getting a kill on the first sortie was not worth an ROE violation—that sort of breach in air discipline would mean an instant end to our mission leadership. As I cleared Biggles to try a pass, the Serb convoy went under a cloud deck.
    That was the best shot anyone had all morning, and the next day, the weather was completely overcast. After surviving the first several missions, we received permission from General Short to lower the ROE hard deck—first down to 15,000 feet and then to 10,000 feet. (One of the themes in chap. 5, ROE will be discussed there by several people at greater length.)
    The weather pattern continued to repeat itself and provided us with six unexpected days to practice and perfect our mission leadership. It was challenging for us to keep track of 40-odd aircraft as they flowed into and out of an engagement area protected by enemy air-defense systems and filled with cloud layers. It was a task we learned to accomplish without incident.
    The self-initiated pressure to get results was building. We had drilled holes in cloudy skies for seven days without expending any ordnance or slowing down the Serb ground offensive. Finally on 6 April, we got our chance. The Serbs hadn’t started hiding yet. We caught and destroyed several small convoys and other vehicles parked in the open. After landing from that seven-hour sortie, I was pressed to get out the door to comply with crew-rest restrictions (normal crew rest is a 12-hour period that begins when a pilot departs the squadron and ends when he returns for the next day’s mission) but took time to do three important things. First, I distributed the prized bits of weapons arming and release hardware to the ecstatic maintainers and weapons loaders. These swivels, links, and bits of arming wire are attached to the aircraft’s bomb racks and missile rails and arm the weapons when they are released or fired. The maintainers and loaders are proud when their aircraft returns without its weapons and are pleased to get these souvenirs. Second, I briefed the following day’s mission commander on the tactics that worked and those that didn’t. Third, I returned a call General Short had made while I was flying. He was very supportive and asked how the mission had gone. He reminded me to keep the target-identification process rigorous and the “kids” above his ROE altitude. I thanked him for the 10,000-foot hard deck and asked him to consider 8,000 feet. He said he’d think about it.

Evolution of the Airborne Forward Air Controller Mission

    After the first week of AFAC sorties, the CAOC changed the name of the CAIFF mission to VMEZ (V=VJ [Serb army] and M=MUP [Serb Interior Ministry police] Engagement Zone). About the same time, we were allowed to seek out and destroy targets throughout Kosovo, but still without using Macedonian airspace. VMEZ then changed in mid-April to KEZ, and on 15 April, we finally received clearance to attack Serbia and Kosovo through Macedonian airspace. (For simplicity’s sake, the air campaign against fielded forces is hereafter called “KEZ operations” and the area in Kosovo and southeastern Serbia where we engaged fielded forces is “the KEZ.”)
    During the first week of OAF, daily KEZ operations were limited to a single three-hour period from 0600 to 0900. After our early successes, the CAOC expanded KEZ operations to two three-hour daytime periods, with F-16CG FACs from Aviano joining us. Unfortunately, the Serbs were quick to adapt their operations to ours. We soon noticed that the Serb army simply hid its armored vehicles while we were roaming overhead, and then wreaked havoc on the Kosovar civilians when we left. We saw a critical need to increase our ability to influence events on the ground and sent a proposal to the CAOC to expand our operations to near-continuous coverage. That proposal required more aircraft (how and where we got those Hogs is discussed at length in chap. 3, whose theme is beddown). Eventually, with more A-10s and carrier-based F-14 AFACs, KEZ operations reached a cruising speed of 18 hours daily in late April, divided into three-hour periods. There were two “holes” in the schedule around sunset and sunrise, due to limitations in the availability of some key assets (jammers and SEAD). This 18-hour coverage continued until the end of hostilities. The F-16CGs did most of the FACing at night and were assisted by ANG A-10s after they arrived. At night, A-10s, F-16CGs, and British GR-7s flew with night vision goggles.

Coordination of KEZ Operations

    Extensive coordination was required to make the KEZ operations work well. By late April there were dozens of units, from nine NATO countries, which operated from 15 bases and three aircraft carriers to support OAF. Those nations provided aircraft, which regularly flew the indicated missions during KEZ operations (table 1).
Table 1
Aircraft Involved in KEZ Operations
Country Mission Aircraft Type Belgium Attacka F-16A Canada Attack CF-18 France Attack Super Etendard, Jaguar Germany SEADb Tornado ECR Italy Attack Tornado GR.1 IDS, AMX Netherlands Attack F-16AM DCAc F-16AM Spain Attack EF-18 Turkey Attack TF-16 United Kingdom Attack GR-7 Harrier Supportd E-3D NAEW United States AFACe A-10, F-16CG, F-14 Attack A-10, F-16CG, F-15E, F-14, F/A-18, AV-8, B-1, B-52 SARf A-10, MH-53J (Pave Low), MH-60 (Pave Hawk) SEAD F-16CJ, EA-6B DCA F-15A, F-15C, F-16CG, F-15E Support E-3 AWACS, E-8 JSTARS, EC-130 ABCCC, EC-130H Compass Call, E-2C Hawkeye, KC-10, KC-135 Recceg Predator, Laser Predator, and Hunter
    a attack aircraft that employed weapons under the control of an AFAC.
    b suppression of enemy air defenses.
    c defensive counterair.
    d specialized aircraft that support operations in areas of command, control, communications, reconnaissance, intelligence, refueling, and electronic warfare.
    e airborne forward air controller.
    f search and rescue.
    g reconnaissance using unmanned aerial vehicles.

    Keeping these mixed gaggles going the same way on the same day required three levels of planning and coordination. First, CAOC planners would build the packages from the available units to ensure the requisite capability. These packages would be published in the daily air tasking order (ATO) and, more importantly, in the draft ATO. The information in the draft allowed the units to get a head start on planning for the next day’s 0600 vul period.
    Aviators representing each of the tasked units accomplished the second level of planning in the Wingtip, the wing’s mission planning cell at Aviano. They turned the ATO KEZ package information into two-page “coordination cards” to be used in the next day’s missions. The cards listed frequencies, code words, types of aircraft, and their ordnance. We always had an A-10 pilot there to put the cards together and send them to us at Gioia del Colle. Maj Peter R. “Bro” Brotherton, one of our guys doing his time at Aviano, was the first to appropriately indicate “lots” under the A-10’s ordnance column.
    The third level of planning and coordination took place in the units. There, a group of young pilots, under the guidance of a field-grade supervisor, would produce the two-page lineup cards with tasking and tanker information, navigation way points, and weapons parameters. If units wanted to change something on the coordination card or alter their contribution to the KEZ packages, they simply communicated the details to their reps at the Wingtip and the CAOC. This vertical coordination for KEZ operations, after some initial hiccups, ran quite smoothly.
    The horizontal coordination among the units participating in hunting fielded Serbian forces did not work as well. During the first week, while most of the “players” were still at Aviano, it was fairly simple for an A-10 AFAC mission commander to drive down the street to pay a visit to the EC-130 ABCCC squadron to work out command and control kinks, or walk down the hall to compare notes with the F-16 AFACs. Once we moved to Gioia de Colle and the F-14 AFACs started flying KEZ sorties off the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), coordination among the AFAC units consisted of whatever handoff briefings we managed in the air. In general, we relied too much on the CAOC to provide coordination among units. There was no one playing “Daddy FAC” at the CAOC since there were few, if any, senior FAC-qualified pilots. We knew that the F-16 and F-14 FACs had different capabilities and therefore used different tactics. We had no insight into how they were doing—what did not work, or what worked and got results.
    Lt Col Paul C. “Sticky” Strickland ably described our initial situation in an article entitled “USAF Aerospace-Power Doctrine: Decisive or Coercive?” He stated that the initial CAIFF operations did not have an air operations directive to guide them—that is, to provide clear, measurable objectives for the CAOC and the units to attain.[1] Our job was simply to hunt down and destroy Serb weaponry within 10 miles of the Albanian border. Although we enthusiastically applied our talents to this nebulous end, our frustration grew as we went out day after day, often without finding and destroying Serb targets and with no way of assessing our contribution. Certainly we were making a difference: after the first two days, the Serbs stopped driving in convoys, and after a week, they stopped driving armored vehicles during the day. After a month, we knew we had destroyed a significant amount of Serb weaponry, but was the destruction sufficient to achieve NATO objectives?
    As FACs we became aware during the KEZ operations of what OAF’s commanding officers have since made public: Gen Wesley Clark was eager for a major NATO effort against Serb fielded forces, while General Short preferred using NATO’s air resources in a concentrated interdiction campaign against Serb infrastructure. (General Short was always a straight shooter with us and essentially explained these preferences during an official visit to Gioia del Colle after the end of the campaign, while graciously praising our contribution to NATO’s victory.) Through our contacts at the CAOC, we learned that, despite the good intentions of many superb officers, this tug-of-war for mission priorities had resulted in ambiguous guidance and a lack of overall direction on our ultimate objective.
    During late April, Lt Col Arden B. “Surgeon” Dahl, our 52d Fighter Wing chief of weapons and tactics, had a “eureka style” revelation while we Hog drivers discussed this problem at Gioia. Surgeon drew on his experience at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS) and noted that, while KEZ operations attacked ground forces, they did not explicitly seek a ground-force objective, such as “occupy the high terrain by X date” or “reduce the combat effectiveness of (named enemy unit) by X percent.” This should have been obvious to A-10 guys from the start, since we had grown up supporting the ground commander’s scheme of maneuver from the air. However, we had not been given an “on the ground” objective to achieve in Kosovo. We understood that our KEZ operations sought airpower victory over deployed enemy ground forces, but we did not know what would constitute “victory.” Through our chief CAOC representative, Lt Col Craig “Walrus” Heise, we proposed that intelligence experts identify Serb army units and their locations in Kosovo so we could systematically attack them and achieve a yet-to-be-defined joint objective. We also proposed a FAC conference at Vicenza that would allow us to compare notes and hammer out a common way forward. Both of those initiatives won approval. Afterward, our ATO listed the Serb Third Army as our main objective.
    Defining our objectives did not make a big difference in our daily results, since KEZ operations did not have sufficient priority on reconnaissance assets to locate and track Third Army command posts and operational units (see chap. 5 for more details). We argued at the FAC conference for the need to develop a joint concept of attacking Serb ground forces that included NATO ground assets stationed in Macedonia and Albania. Later in the campaign, we understood that the CAOC was working closely with Army counterbattery radars. We, however, had practically no contact with our NATO ground colleagues throughout the campaign.
    KEZ operations did keep daily pressure on the Serbs, and although some days resulted in very little battle damage assessment (BDA), we often forced the Serbs to make seemingly stupid mistakes. On at least three occasions, Hogs caught and destroyed significant armored forces (10–15 tanks and armored personnel carriers [APC]) congregated in the open. We termed these puzzling groupings of real armor (they burned black smoke or caused secondary explosions) Serb army “picnics” or “meetings” that got interrupted. Continuous AFAC pressure paid off most when the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA [English] or UCK [Albanian]) started its meager, but certainly effective, ground offensive in the last 10 days of the conflict. When the Serbs came out to fight, there was no place to hide. We were then able to inflict very heavy damage, especially on enemy artillery, mortars, and APCs.

Combat Search and Rescue Leadership

    A-10 Sandys had CSAR responsibility for the entire theater of operations throughout the campaign. If required, they could also lead a search and rescue (SAR) mission in friendly territory. The location and reaction time for CSAR alert were two aspects of the mission that did change over time. Friendly forces can make only an educated guess as to where the risk of having one of their aircraft shot down is greatest. Therefore, CSAR is an alert mission that initially has many unknown factors, including the location and condition of the survivor, as well as the enemy threats in that rescue area. CSAR forces can “sit” ground alert or fly an airborne alert. During ground alert, the aircraft are loaded with ordnance appropriate for a CSAR mission and then “hot cocked” by the pilots. The pilots hot-cock the aircraft by starting the engines, aligning the aircraft navigation systems, performing ground checks up to preparation for taxi, shutting down the engines, and then presetting the switches. In the event they are “scrambled,” all the pilots have to do is start the engines and go. During an airborne alert, appropriately loaded A-10s take off, fly to, and remain at a specified orbit to cover the time window during which friendly aircraft are flying over enemy territory. Usually, at least two flights of A-10s are tasked to cover CSAR. One flight locates and stays with the survivor; the other escorts the recovery helos and/or relieves the Sandy who is functioning as the on-scene commander when that Sandy must depart the area to go to the tanker for fuel.
    The key considerations that drive the decision to use ground or airborne alert are the level of enemy threat, the reaction time to a potential survivor, and the availability of A-10s in the tasked unit. If there were an unlimited number of A-10s and if CSAR were the only mission, all strike packages could have a dedicated airborne Sandy alert. However, flying an airborne alert takes more aircraft than ground alert and diminishes a unit’s ability to execute other required missions. Ground alerts were therefore regularly used to allow a squadron to better manage its limited resources to support other important missions during nonstop operations.
    One of the thorniest puzzles we faced throughout the campaign was optimizing the available A-10 sorties. We needed to cover the tasked AFAC and strike missions while ensuring adequate CSAR coverage for all other OAF missions being flown. At the beginning of the air campaign, the 81st was based at Aviano and was expected to reach target areas in both northern Serbia and Kosovo from a single CSAR alert posture. To satisfy this requirement, given the distance to Kosovo and the uncertainty of the surface-to-air radar-missile threat, we insisted on having at least one two-ship airborne over the Adriatic and another on ground alert. We also assigned an experienced A-10 pilot to ride aboard every C-130 ABCCC during the first week of air strikes to help coordinate rescue efforts and minimize the confusion that normally breaks loose when an aircraft goes down. Airborne OAF aircraft would have to be directed to support the CSAR effort or leave the recovery area. We expected our pilots on board the ABCCCs to help with those tasks, as they did on the evening of 27 March, when they helped coordinate the efforts of six A-10s and numerous other aircraft during the successful rescue of Vega 31 (see chap. 7 for a detailed discussion).
    We started flying AFAC missions and a heavy schedule against ground targets on 30 March. As a consequence, A-10 Sandys were scheduled for ground CSAR alert at night, instead of airborne alert, to maximize the number of day AFAC and strike sorties. We adopted an innovative scheduling technique to provide CSAR for the hundreds of day missions that took friendly aircraft over bad-guy land. We “embedded” at least four Sandy-qualified pilots in the AFAC and strike-mission schedule to ensure a continuous airborne Sandy presence in the target area. These pilots could easily respond to a CSAR mission should the need arise. When we were not able to schedule a continuous Sandy presence, we provided ground-CSAR alert.
    On 1 May, four ground-alert Sandys were launched from Gioia del Colle to lead the rescue of Hammer 34, an F-16 that had been shot down in northern Serbia. While it was successful, the time required for the A-10s to arrive on scene meant that daylight was approaching by the time the pilot was picked up. The additional risk associated with daylight rescues and the response time from Gioia del Colle led the CAOC to decide to open a second CSAR ground-alert base at Taszar, Hungary. The Killer Bees from Trapani graciously accepted the tasking to man this detachment and provide a faster response to a possible CSAR in northern Serbia. The 81st and 74th EFS, under the OPCON of the 40th EOG at Gioia del Colle, retained 24-hour CSAR responsibility for KEZ operations and interdiction strikes in southern Serbia.
    Although A-10s had successfully led the CSAR missions for the only two pilots shot down during OAF, nobody knew it. Those recoveries also happened to be the first time that immediate combat rescues had been attempted at night. The press speculated that the Marines, or perhaps the special forces, had been involved. In fact, both special forces and Air Force rescue helicopters did the pickups, but they remained appropriately discreet about who had accomplished the CSAR missions. We would have loved to have called a press conference at the squadron after each pickup and introduce the Sandy heroes to the world. However, it was much more important to maintain the ambiguity. We had little to gain by publicly announcing to the Serbs that Hog drivers would be the first to come to the aid of a downed pilot and were ready to do whatever it took to provide protection and lead a successful recovery. After Allied Force, our Sandys got the rich recognition they deserved. Capt John “Buster” Cherrey received a personalized State of the Union thanks from President William J. Clinton, and the six Sandys who participated in the Vega 31 rescue were given the “Jolly Green Rescue Mission of the Year” award.

Our Assessment of Mission Leadership

    We had proved that A-10 drivers could successfully take the reins of major AFAC and CSAR missions. These were notable “firsts” in the history of the A-10, and we owe our thanks to many senior officers who ignored our reputation as a specialized CAS aircraft, recognized our potential, took us off the sidelines, and gave us the chance to lead. Those officers were not in our normal peacetime chain of command and included the USAF leadership in Italy, notably Colonel Eberhart, General Leaf, and General Short. Neither could we have led in combat without the unequivocal support of our home-station and major command leadership: Brig Gen Scott Van Cleef, the 52d Fighter Wing commander; Col Jan-Marc Jouas, the 52d Operations Group commander; and Maj Gen William T. “Tom” Hobbins, USAFE director of operations (also an “attached” pilot in the 81st FS).
    Our general lack of experience in large-force mission command showed at times in the air, and some missions didn’t go smoothly. During our unit debrief at the end of the war and thereafter at the Allied Force lessons-learned conferences, we highlighted these shortcomings as important areas for improvement in the A-10 community. We could visualize a future of low- to medium-intensity conflicts in which air dominance was easy to achieve but ground dominance was not. Experts in mud moving, such as Hog pilots, will be called upon in those future conflicts to lead joint and multinational force packages of great complexity.
    A lowly squadron can make a big difference in the conduct of a large air campaign—it’s not solely up to the component-level or theater-level headquarters to develop tactics and strategy. This lesson repeated itself often during the campaign but never ceased to amaze us. Our inputs to the CAOC on tactics, coordination procedures, ROEs, flying schedules, and package composition significantly changed how the fight was fought.
    In the European theater, the best expertise for finding and killing green-painted vehicles in green fields and forests resided in the A-10 unit, first at Aviano and then Gioia del Colle. Ironically, this capability had been developed during what many of us old-timers call “unrealistic” training 15 years ago in the Cold War’s European theater. We had cut our teeth on training flights in Germany long ago trying to find a single “tank in the trees.” We would complain about having the most unrealistic scenario possible. What enemy would hide his best combat power to begin with, and then, why would we ever waste the time to attack a single tank?

I Feel Lucky
Maj Phil “Goldie” Haun

    I feel lucky. After getting weathered out of yesterday’s sortie, I was flying back into the KEZ. Maj Philip “Dirt” Fluhr was my wingman and a good friend. Dirt was an experienced A-10 instructor pilot who never lost his cool. That morning I was the mission commander for a 45-ship package of AFACs, strikers, command and control, and SEAD aircraft. Our objective was to destroy as many Serbian tactical vehicles (armor, artillery, and soft-skinned vehicles) as we could find. As AFACs, Dirt and I were to locate, identify, and attack these mobile targets. The entire package provided continuous coverage over Kosovo by splitting the country in two, with two sets of AFACs rotating on and off the tanker to cover our three-hour vulnerability window. On this day, A-10s had the east, code-named NBA, while the F-16CGs had the west, code-named NFL.
    For AFAC operations, my A-10 was loaded with two pods of 2.75-inch Willy Pete rockets for marking, four Mk-82 500 lb airburst bombs, two 500 lb air-to-surface Maverick missiles, and over 1,000 rounds of 30 mm GAU-8 armor-piercing and highexplosive bullets. That gave me a variety of munitions not only to mark targets, but to kill them as well. With F-15Es, Canadian CF-18s, and British GR-7 Harriers available to me, I also had a lot of LGBs and CBUs at my disposal. Life was sweet.
Crew chief A1C Ephraim Smallridge arming a pod of Willy Pete rockets and two AIM-9s (USAF Photo by SrA Stan Parker)
    That day’s five-hour mission included an hour’s flight to the KC-135 tankers holding over Macedonia for refueling, followed by an hour in-country over Kosovo, back to the tanker for more gas, another hour in-country, and then an hour back to Gioia del Colle—our deployed location in southeast Italy.
    The morning’s mass briefing was only so-so. The weather looked workable, but our ability to employ weapons was threatened by midlevel cloud decks. On top of that, the bad weather during the last few days had prevented the accumulation of any good imagery, and we were forced to go it alone, looking for Serbian military vehicles with limited help from reconnaissance and intelligence sources.
    This was becoming familiar. The Serbs had stopped using the roads during the day so I didn’t expect to find anything out in the open to shoot. I had two options available: systematically search the towns for military vehicles or comb the outlying areas for revetments. Visual reconnaissance in urban areas was extremely difficult. In the towns, the Serbs had been parking their tanks next to houses and sometimes in the houses. On a previous mission, I had been able to find Serb vehicles, but it had still taken about an hour to locate one target—and the attack had been only partially successful. My second option was to search the hills for revetments and see if any of them contained APCs, tanks, or artillery. The Serbians had hundreds of dug-in fighting positions all over the foothills that overlooked the main lines of communications (LOC) leading south and east out of Kosovo.
    I was determined to give some revetments south of G-Town (Gnjilane, in eastern Kosovo) a first look. I knew where to find 20 juicy revetments that were full of APCs and artillery just two days ago. I found the revetments, called for fighters, and was given F-15Es and Belgian F-16s. Waiting for the F-15Es, I attempted to lock up and shoot a Maverick at one of the APCs, but the target contrast was too poor and I came off target dry. As I called to get an update on the fighters, I looked back at the target and saw a long trail of white smoke off my left wing. It had looked like the smoke trail off a Maverick missile, and I had been angry that my wingman had shot one on his own. I hadn’t given him permission, nor had I been able to provide cover for him. When he responded that he’d made no such attack, chills went up my spine. The smoke trail was evidence that a shoulder-fired SAM had been shot at my flight.
    I didn’t have to wait long for the second SAM after I directed my wingman to roll in on the revetments where the smoke had come from. He came off dry with a hung Maverick only to see another SAM come streaking up for him. I called for flares and then held safely to the south until the strikers showed up. The F-15Es called in but were low on fuel. I talked them onto the target, but they bingoed out (reached the amount of fuel required to fly to a tanker and then on to their divert base if refueling proved unsuccessful) for gas before they could splash any of the revetments with their LGBs. Now I was running low on fuel, and before I could get the Belgian F-16s on target, I hit bingo myself. While flying formation on the tanker and waiting my turn to refuel, I plotted my revenge. Unfortunately, while I refueled, low-level clouds moved into the target area, and we had to leave all 20 revetments unmolested. It still burned me that they had been able to take two shots at us without retribution.
    I was now eager to wipe the slate clean and start over. Dirt and I took off from Gioia, under the call sign of Cub 31, and headed east towards Macedonia. Coming off a tanker I turned north to see the weather over southeastern Kosovo looking good. I armed a Maverick as we returned to the revetments south of G-Town. Dirt covered me as I rolled in, but the APCs were no longer there and I came off dry—thwarted. The Serbian army had been extremely adaptive to our tactics. We never got a second chance in the same place with these guys.
    I was forced to search around G-Town, looking at the hilltops for signs of other revetments. After 10 minutes I found what I was looking for: two groups of revetments three miles east of G-Town in a group of foothills. I put my binos on them and found the northern group filled with eight artillery pieces. In the southern group were two APCs. I called Moonbeam, the call sign for ABCCC, and requested a set of strikers. First up was Merc 11, a two-ship of Canadian CF-18s carrying 500 lb LGBs. I passed them coordinates and gave them an update as they came into the target area. My plan was to drop a single 500 lb Mk-82 bomb on one of the revetments to get the CF-18s’ eyes onto the target area and then let them drop their LGBs onto the artillery. Everything went as planned until I rolled in on the target. I dropped my bomb and then came off target, rolling up on my side to see where it landed. As luck would have it, the bomb was a dud. “The best laid plans and all,” I said to myself. I asked Dirt if he was in position to drop, but he wasn’t. It would take a while to build up the energy (airspeed and altitude) to roll in again, so I began a talk-on.
    A talk-on simply describes the target area to the strikers and, with no more than a radio, gets their eyes on the target. It sounds like a much easier task than it is, as both the AFAC talking and the striker listening were flying war birds three to four miles above enemy terrain. At those altitudes, the revetments looked smaller than the head of a pin. Also, since the jets were flying at speeds of five to eight miles per minute and since English is not always the mother tongue of the strikers, (not so in this case but true of many others) a talk-on can easily be more difficult than just “laying down a mark.” Over the course of the war, I controlled USAF, United States Navy (USN), Canadian, British, Italian, French, Spanish, Turkish, Dutch, and Belgium strikers.
    I responded to Merc 11’s check-in: “Copy. We are just east of the target and setting up for another mark. Call visual on the factory that is just east of the huge town that is on the east-west hardball(hardball was our term for a hard-surface road, which we differentiated from a dirtball or dirt road). G-Town is the only large town in eastern Kosovo, and since Merc 11 had eyes on my flight, it was the only town they could see. On the east side of G-Town was an enormous factory complex next to the highway leading east out of the town.
    Merc 11 replied: “Copy. I see one factory. Large structure has a blue-roof building to the west.” Merc 11 not only responded that he saw the factory but confirmed it by giving a positive description of a distinct feature. I had confidence that he had the right factory in sight.
    “That’s affirmative. Let’s use that factory east-west one unit. From the eastern edge of factory go two—let’s make that three—units east on hardball. Then use factory from hardball. You’ll see a pull-off on the north side of the hardball. Go one unit to the south off the hardball. In between two small towns you’ll see some light revetments.” I continued the talk-on by setting the length of the factory complex east to west as a unit. I treated that unit as a yardstick to measure the distance along the road to another feature (a pull-off from the highway). I talked Merc 11 down between two towns where the artillery was lying.
    Merc 11 responded, “Copy light revetments; there appear to be four to the south and four or five to the north.” Merc 11 had the revetments in sight and again gave a description of what he saw. The revetments appeared shallow due to the light, sandy soil in that region of Kosovo in comparison to the darker-green grass of the field where the revetments had been dug.
    “Copy. That is affirmative. Say your laser code.” I wanted his laser code so that I could use my Pave Penny pod (a laser-spot tracker that can “see” where another jet’s lasers are pointed) to ensure that his laser was actually pointed at the right target.
    “Laser code is 1633.”
    I was ready for his attacks now. “Copy, currently I am visual you, and I am under you currently on the west side. I’d like you to take out the far western pit with a single LGB.”
    Merc 11 wanted one final confirmation. “Copy far western pit. Confirm the line of pits intersects the road at an angle.”
    I reassured him. “That is affirmative. The road between the two towns is at an angle. And the arty sets almost in a saddle in the ridgeline. Say how long until attack.”
    “One minute,” Merc 11 called as he set up his attack.
    I saw him extend to the southeast some 10 miles from the target. Though they move much faster than A-10s, CF-18s take a long time to set up their attacks. I was not used to fighters extending that far from the target and could barely make them out as they turned inbound. I had to make up my mind on whether to clear him to drop. I couldn’t pick up his laser with my pod yet, but I was confident from his responses that he had the target. I decided to clear him, and he shacked (made a direct hit) the first artillery piece. He set up for a subsequent attack and took out another piece of artillery before he ran low on fuel and departed.
    In the meantime, I was holding south of the target, coordinating with Moonbeam for another set of strikers. Next on the list was Dragon 61, a two-ship of F-15Es carrying a bunch of GBU-12s (500 lb LGBs). While I waited for Dragon, I took out one of the southern APCs with a Maverick. Finally, Dragon checked in and I gave them my position. I got a friendly buddy spike, which meant Dragon had locked me with one of their air-to-air radars. I told him to call me when he had me visual. Normally, acquiring a visual on A-10s is fairly easy. A two-ship of A-10s circling a target looks like a pair of large Xs in the sky. Dragon called visual, and I rolled in to mark, this time with Willy Pete rockets. I shot three rockets, hoping to get them to blossom into small white-phosphorus clouds on the ground. As long as Dragon saw where I was shooting, he could easily see the smoke generated by my rockets.
An A-10 attacks Serb forces. (Original oil painting by Ronald “Ron”T. K.Wong, G. Av.A., A.S.A.A.)
    “Marks are away. Expect impact in 15 seconds.” That gave Dragon a heads up on when he should expect to see the smoke.
    Dirt called to me on our internal Fox-Mike (frequency modulated, aka FM) radio: “Your first mark is closest to arty line.”
    Dragon 61 confirmed the smokes, “Six-One is contact two smokes.”
    “Copy. Look at the further northeast smoke. It’s setting just on the east side of four arty pits south of a road.” Even though the smokes were visible, the arty pits were so small that I had to ensure Dragon was seeing them.
    Dragon called contact on the target area. I was starting to run low on fuel and wanted to get the F-15Es dropping as soon as possible. Dragon was not an AFAC and could not pick his own target. He could, however, continue an attack once I gave him permission. My plan was to have him take out as many artillery pieces as he could while I was off to the tanker.
    I passed control of the targets to Dragon: “You have flight lead control on that target area. I’d like to take out most of the arty sites at that position; two have already been struck. Those are two just north of the east-west road.”
    Dirt and I left for the tanker that was waiting for us some 50 miles south over Macedonia. While we were on the tanker, Dragon continued his attack and destroyed three more, bringing the total to five artillery pieces and one APC destroyed.
Artillery attacked by F-15E with A-10 FAC (USAF Photo)
    After a half-hour refueling, we returned to the artillery sites. Dragon had long since departed. A cloud deck had moved in from the northwest and forced us to work east, out of Kosovo and into the southeastern part of Serbia. A large valley wound its way down towards the town of Kumanova in Macedonia. We called it the Kumanova Valley. For several days, we attacked positions in this valley when the weather was not good enough in Kosovo. The Serbs were fortified against a ground attack from the south and had hundreds of defensive positions built into the hillsides overlooking the valley.
    Near the border I could hear a couple of A-10s working targets. I called them and coordinated to work well north of their position, 10 miles north of the Macedonian border. I found the town of Bujanovac and began searching the roads and surrounding areas. I worked my eyes south of the town and finally picked up six revetments. They were on a hilltop but were different than any other revetments I had ever seen. They were several miles from any major LOC and well camouflaged but were visible from the southwest. Because the weather had moved in and clouds were just above us, we were now limited to flying below 21,000 feet. I kept Dirt in a trail position and took a good look with the binos. The targets were hard to make out. I could see the ends of large tubes, which I took for long-range artillery tubes, sticking out from both ends of the revetments.
    I rolled in and dropped two Mk-82s to mark the targets for Dirt. The bombs hit next to two revets, but I couldn’t see any secondaries. I called Moonbeam and asked for Dodge 61, a two-ship of British GR-7 Harriers carrying BL-755 CBUs.
    “Two’s got both your marks. Two has a series of brown revets,” Dirt called.
    “Yeah, I got six revets in the triangle area.” I made sure he saw all of them.
    “Underneath your smoke now?” The smoke from my bombs rested over the revets.
    “That’s affirm.”
    “Got’em now.”
    “Let’s extend out to the south towards good-guy land, and I’ll work up a five line for these guys.” The targets were very difficult to see. I was planning to pass Dodge five pieces of information to help them find the targets: IP (initial point—the place where they should start their attack), heading, distance, elevation, and coordinates. I also gave them a target description once they were within visual range. The Harriers had an electro-optical targeting pod, which they could use to look closely at targets. I was planning to use this device to get their eyes on the revetments.
    Dodge 61 came up on the ultrahigh frequency (UHF) radio:
    “Three-One go ahead.” Dodge didn’t hear my response, and the radio went quiet—but not for long.
    While plotting the revets on my 1-to-250-scale map, I dropped the map between my ejection seat and my right control panel. Pushing the jet over with some negative Gs, I tried to get it to fly back up to me, but only got it hopelessly trapped directly beneath the ejection seat. I called Dirt on our Fox-Mike frequency, where no one else was listening: “You are not going to believe this but I just dropped my 1-to-250.”
    Dirt’s response was not at all what I expected: “OK, triple-A now… triple-A coming up… I need you to come down here southbound.” Dirt was trying to keep me clear of the exploding AAA rounds cooking off right underneath us.
    “Copy, I got the triple-A now. I’m visual the triple-A now.” For a moment I could make out a ridgeline, where I could see the puffs of smoke coming out of the guns in a group of four to six positions. The AAA pits were two miles west of the target we were working.
    “I didn’t get a good look at the firing position.” Dirt had seen the AAA rounds exploding just underneath us but had not seen where the guns were located. The problem with flying over AAA during the day is that they aren’t as visible as they are at night. The only evidence of AAA is usually the explosion of the airburst rounds that have been set to detonate after a specific time of flight, or at a specific altitude. This looks like popcorn popping, or, in a group, they sometimes look like a strand of pearls with four to eight rounds going off in a line. Since not all AAA is set for airburst, we assumed that popcorn going off below us meant that unseen bullets were streaking up, around, and past us.
    Dodge repeated his call, unaware of the AAA activity, “Cub Three-One, this is Dodge Six-One.”
    I answered and Dodge continued, “Holding IP Brad; authenticate Alpha, Foxtrot, November.” Dodge was following procedure and was authenticating me, using authentication cards that we carry to make sure a Serb wasn’t spoofing him.
    On UHF I responded to Dodge, “Stand by, I’m taking a little triple-A.”
    Dirt asked me on the Fox-Mike radio, “Are you seeing it? You get a hack at the firing position?”
    “I saw it coming up, but I couldn’t get a good hack. These roads have me screwed up, and I have my 1-to-250 dropped.” I had been watching so many roads that I was not positive where the AAA was located.
    Getting back to business I responded, “Copy, I’ve found some AAA positions and/or arty. You’ll have to stand by for a while. I’ll have to get it plotted.” I was going to try to take out both the long-range arty and the AAA positions with the CBU. I made a quick guess of where the hillside was on my remaining 1-to-50 map and passed it on to Dodge. “OK, general target area, I’ll give you an update later, is Echo Mike six five nine three… and I can give you an update now six nine nine six.”
    “Echo Mike six nine nine six, copied.”
    I turned my attention back to my flight and planned with Dirt how to carry off the attack: “If you can get eyeballs on the triple-A area, we’ll take it out. We know it’s active.” What I really meant was that I was planning to use Dirt to suppress the AAA while the Harriers were attacking the long-range arty. I turned my attention back to filling in the blanks as I reached the target area: “And Dodge go ahead with your line up.” From his call sign I knew Dodge was the two British GR-7s I had asked Moonbeam to send. The ATO stated that Dodge had been “fragged” with CBU, but I wanted to confirm it, find out how much playtime they had, and most importantly, get their abort code.
    “C aircraft, four CBU, India Bravo mikes on station… Alpha Quebec Uniform, abort code,” came Dodge’s James Bond response. My supersecret-spy decoder ring told me that Dodge was two aircraft carrying a total of four cans of BL-755 CBUs with 30 minutes of time to work the target. Moreover, if I yelled “Papa” over the radio, they would abort their attack.
    As I got back to the target, the weather had deteriorated significantly. The visibility at altitude was decreasing as a high deck continued to move in, making it difficult to find the revetments. Fortunately, I had taken the time to see exactly where they were located in relationship to some distinguishing features. “Dodge, I’m trying to get better coordinates, but call when you are ready to proceed to the target area and I’ll plan to mark it with a Mk-82.”
    Finally I got my eyes on the small, triangular field where the revetments were located: “For a description, I have five to six berms with arty pieces in them.” I double-checked the coordinates, and the 69 and 96 grid lines off the 1-to-50 map overlapped the target like a set of crosshairs. “And new update—coordinates I passed you are good.”
    “Copy. Are we cleared to leave Brad yet?” Dodge was ready to go. He had been holding just south of the Serbian border at the IP Brad and was ready to depart.
    “You are cleared to leave Brad and proceed northbound. Be advised you’ll be able to work base plus 16 and below in target area. Call when you are northbound.” This informed him that the weather is bad above 20,000 feet.
    “OK, we’re northbound this time.”
    “Copy that; I am currently base plus 16. Will be holding just south of target. Be advised triple-A in area approximately two miles west, northwest of target.”
    With the weather and the Harriers’ run-in, Dirt and I were forced to overfly the AAA: “Two, any luck picking up triple-A sites?”
    “Negative. They have been quiet.”
    As we were looking for the AAA positions, Dodge broke in: “Dodge Six-One visual with Cub.”
    I was starting to get impatient. With the bad weather, the difficulty in locating the target, and the amount of AAA, this target preparation had taken way too long. “I will be in out of the east. It’s on top of a ridgeline; there are about four revetments. Do you have your targeting pod on that location?”
    “Stand by.”
    “Disregard. As long as you have eyeballs on Cub, I’ll just go ahead and mark.”
    Dodge responded, “I just lost you for the moment.”
    “Copy. You’ll pick me as I’m coming off target. I’m in with a single Mk-82.” I would have dropped more, but this was my last Mk-82. As the bomb came off the jet, I called, “Marks away; impact in 10… call visual mark.”
    “OK, I have the mark.”
    “Call visual the four berms that are just to south and west of mark.”
    “Copy. Looking.”
    “They are just on the west of that dirtball road.”
    Finally, the words I had been waiting to hear: “Visual the berms.”
    I wanted the Harriers to start taking out the revetments and planned to cover them on the west side, watching for the AAA to get active again. “Copy, we’re proceeding westbound. You are cleared on those positions.”
    “Cleared on those positions. Do you have another mark available when we run in?”
    This was not exactly the question I was hoping Dodge would ask. This would mean another time rolling down the chute. Before I could respond, Dirt called me on FM: “I’ve got three,” which meant, “Goldie, you’ve been having all the fun while I’ve still got three of my four bombs left.” I quickly answered Dodge’s question: “That is affirmative.”
    Dodge began to prepare for his attack, “I’ll call for the mark.”
    I knew the timing of this mark was critical for Dodge. I wanted the smoke from the bombs to appear in his targeting pod with enough time for him to be able to drop his bombs on this pass. With Dirt marking the site, I figured he would need some lead time to roll in: “I’ll need about a minute and a half for that call.”
    “Copied, no problem.”
    As I waited just west of the target, I again turned my attention to the AAA pits. I had taken a snapshot in my mind of where the AAA was coming from and the position of the pits. They were visible only when I looked northeast. I did a belly check and saw them directly below me. I called on Fox Mike to Dirt: “OK I know where those triple-A pits are now.”
    Dodge interrupted my call: “Requesting mark one minute 30.”
    “Copy that.” I turned my attention to Dirt: “Try to put in those Mk-82s, and I’ll extend to the northeast.”
    Dirt called back, “Tell me when you want the roll in.”
    “Yeah, as soon as you can.” Dirt dropped his three bombs for direct hits on two of the revetments. Their explosions caused huge secondaries.
    “Visual, in hot.” Dodge saw the mark and requested permission to attack. I cleared him and watched as his CBU tore through two more revetments.
    As Dodge reset for his wingman to drop more CBUs, I began to focus on the AAA sites. I put my binos on the position and noted four gun pits. They were tiny and impossible to lock up with a Maverick, but I still had my 30 mm gun available for strafing them. As I considered my next move, I noticed a large truck and trailer, not more than 100 meters from the pits. They were barely visible in a tree line down in a ravine. There was only one reason for that type of vehicle to be there next to AAA pits. It had to be the ammo truck, a far more lucrative target.
    That decision was easy. As Dodge 62 began his bomb run, I called up a Maverick. The AAA, which had been silent, began to come up as Dodge’s CBUs rained down. AAA exploded in a string of pearls just beneath me. This was a pass I wanted to make only once. I got a steady cross on the truck and hammered down on the pickle button. It seemed an eternity before the 500 pounds of missile began to move off the rail. In reality it was less than a second, and as it accelerated towards the target, I pulled off hard and began jinking. It was going to take 20 seconds for impact, so I waited a few seconds before rolling the jet over.
    The impact took me by surprise. The missile slammed directly into the trailer and set off a series of secondaries like I have never seen. Fire reached for the sky like the Fourth of July.
    “Unbelievable,” was all the ever-cool Dirt could muster. Most importantly, the AAA shut down instantaneously and Dodge 62 could call for his next mark. Completely out of bombs, I returned to place two Willy Pete rockets on the site. Dodge 62 dropped good CBUs before the flight returned to base.
    Because the British Harriers worked alongside us at Gioia, I was able to compare notes with Dodge flight the next day. Reviewing the film from their EO targeting pods, we made a startling discovery. The long-range artillery tubes we took out were actually launchers for Frog 7 surface-to-surface missiles, similar to Scuds.
    It was incredible to watch as the Frog launchers exploded under the rain of CBUs. We counted secondaries off five launchers, all pointed towards the Macedonian border.
    All told, Dirt and I, the Canadian CF-18s, F-15Es, and British Harriers destroyed five artillery pieces, an APC, five Frog 7 launchers, and an ammo-storage trailer. Not bad for a day’s work.

This Time It’s Real
Maj Dave “Devo” Gross

    After flying numerous pseudocombat sorties over Bosnia during several earlier deployments in support of the no-fly zone, the 81st FS received orders to return to Aviano AB, Italy, to fight what was certain to be a shooting war over Kosovo. I sat in the back of the 81st FS briefing room on that cold and rainy February afternoon. I listened to the deployment brief, ready to go to war and fight for what is right in the world—but my name was not on the Aviano deployment list.
    “What do you mean I have to ask my boss if I can deploy with the squadron?” I asked incredulously.
    Lt Col Kimos Haave replied, “Devo, you work for Colonel Jouas (ops group commander) now, and he will decide if you can deploy with the squadron. Of course we would love to have you, along with all your experience.”
    I had several regrets leaving my job as the squadron’s assistant operations officer in November of 1998 and taking over as the chief of the 52d OG’s Standardization and Evaluation (Stan/Eval) Division at Spangdahlem AB, Germany. I felt as though I had been set up by being assigned to take over the Stan/Eval shop just one month before a major inspection. I also missed the Panthers’ camaraderie and their day-to-day operations. Stan/Eval made it through the inspection with an “excellent” overall, and I still flew training missions with my family—the Panthers. But because of my new job, I was no longer a sure bet to deploy with the Panthers on what was sure to be a great chapter in the history of the A-10. With all the maturity and poise I could muster, I watched my squadron mates deploy to Aviano AB while I stayed behind. My plan, if the war lasted that long, was to swap out in two weeks with Capt David S. “Ajax” Ure, my assistant in the Stan/Eval shop. I had my doubts.
    After the longest two weeks of my life spent watching the air strikes on CNN and hearing about the heroics of my squadron mates during the rescue of the downed F-117 pilot, I was afforded an opportunity to go to Aviano for just three days. Not being one to quibble, I jumped at the chance and packed my bags. On 5 April I would fly my first combat mission over Kosovo with Maj Joseph A. “Lester” Less. Due to continuing poor weather over Kosovo, no A-10 pilot had yet been able to employ munitions. As I performed my walk-around, inspecting the live weapons on my Hog, I was more excited than I had ever been about a sortie. I had flown lots of missions over Bosnia with live weapons, but this time it was real. We could actually shoot something today. We launched as a two-ship AFAC mission over southwest Kosovo.
    As we flew into Kosovo, the first thing I noticed was how beautiful the country was. The landscape was magnificent—a wide, green, fertile valley surrounded by majestic, snowcapped mountains on all sides. I could see why generations have fought and died over the right to live in this country. The weather that day was exceptional. You couldn’t buy a cloud. The sky was clear—except for the smoke from all the beautiful villages 20,000 feet below us that had been set ablaze by Serbian forces. The roads leading to the southern border of Kosovo were jammed with refugees fleeing the country. As they approached the border, they were forced to leave their cars and walk with little more than the clothes on their backs. Their abandoned vehicles stretched from the Albanian border to more than 20 miles into Kosovo. Seeing the villages being burned and the mass exodus of refugees firsthand made me want to aim my 30 mm gun at the ground and kill those responsible for this devastating crime against humanity. But on this mission I didn’t get to fire the gun or drop any weapons. Although we saw several vehicles moving in and around burning villages that we suspected were Serbian military and police (VJ/MUP) forces, we did not find any hard-and-fast “military” targets. After two hours of scouring the countryside and witnessing the carnage, we returned to Aviano with all our ordnance. Frustration was mounting in the Panther clan and at the CAOC. After the first day of really great weather in the KEZ, not one bomb had been dropped. Less than 24 hours later, all of that would change.

Kimos “We Are Going to Kill Something Today” Haave

    I had never seen that look in Kimos’s eyes before. Normally a very mild-mannered family man and exceptional leader, Kimos revealed a different side of himself that day. As the mission commander for the 6 April CAIFF package, Kimos briefed the pilots assembled in the 510th FS briefing room in Aviano like a football coach giving a locker-room pep talk to a team that has narrowly lost every game that season. He was the coach, and this was his final game—he would not retire a loser! After his brief, I was ready to go out and do some damage to some Serbs! After that mission I called him Kimos “we are going to kill something today” Haave to the guys assembled around to hear about the first Panther kill. I was proud to be on his wing that day because I knew from the brief we were going to take the fight to them.
    We were Bull 11 flight, AFACs for an 18-ship package that included British GR-7s and French Super Entendards as strikers. After the tedious two-hour flight down the Adriatic Sea to Kosovo, we refueled over Macedonia and began searching for targets. The weather was like yesterday’s, ceiling and visibility OK (CAVOK). We set up a search pattern around the town of Rogovo. The first target we acquired was a military scout vehicle parked on a hillside. Kimos rolled in and marked the target area with two rockets to allow Cougar Flight, two British GR-7s, to acquire the target and employ BLU-755s. Unfortunately the Brits’ bombs hit well short of the target. With the vehicle now on the move, Kimos rolled in and employed a Maverick missile while I covered his attack. He scored a direct hit.
    We went on to employ against a petroleum, oil, and lubricants (POL) storage facility and a military-vehicle compound near Pirane (a small town located near a rail line about halfway between Orahovac and Prizren). Kimos coordinated an attack by Griz 81 flight, a second two-ship of GR-7s, on the vehicle compound while I coordinated with ABCCC for clearance to attack the POL site. Griz flight dropped CBUs on the east side of the vehicle compound, which contained about 15 personnel carriers. We dropped our remaining bombs on the west end, destroying all the vehicles in the compound. Both Kimos and I employed everything on the jet that day: Mk-82s, Mavericks, and even the lethal GAU-8 gun. Not a single shot was fired back at us. I started to get a false sense of security. It felt like another routine training mission except for the fact we were dropping live weapons. Unfortunately, the rest of my sorties over Kosovo would not be as easy.
    The true significance of this mission was not the targets we destroyed. Those attacks by no means turned the tide of the campaign. The significance was the effect that our two A-10s had on our maintenance personnel when they saw their aircraft pull into the de-arm area with empty missile rails, empty bomb racks, and bullets missing from the gun. The significance was also in an attitude change among the Panther pilots after hearing that we actually employed this time. Things would never be the same. Milosevic’s days were now numbered because the Panthers got their first taste of blood and were hungry for more. Me, I had to go back to Spang to an empty base and CNN. But I was there—there, for the first Panther kill!

You Can Run, but You Can’t Hide

    After two more long weeks back in Germany, my boss allowed me to join the Panthers in their new home at Gioia del Colle. Once again, my first mission back in country was action packed. It was 22 April and I was leading a strike mission with Capt Kevin “Boo” Bullard, one of the 75th FS pilots. Boo and several other Hog pilots from Pope had recently joined us and brought along six additional A-10s to add to our firepower. This was his first sortie in OAF.
    You could hear the excitement in Lester’s voice: “We have military vehicles down there!” Lester had to be one of the most laidback pilots in the squadron. Nothing excited him. That’s why I knew from the tone of his voice that we had hit the mother lode when he called us in as strikers to work the target area. Lester had found a group of 20–30 military transport vehicles parked in an area around several small buildings near Urosevac. It appeared to be some sort of VJ/MUP headquarters. After allowing his wingman to employ Mk-82s on the south side of the target, he handed the target area over to my flight. Boo and I proceeded to wipe out every vehicle in that compound with our Mk-82s and guns. The Mk-82s’ FMU-113 airburst nose fuses caused them to detonate approximately 15 feet above the ground. This made them lethal weapons against the soft-skinned vehicles we were attacking, as well as any troops within 100 yards of the impact area. Deep inside I hoped that this was one of the rape camps I had heard about in the news and that we were making a difference in this campaign.
    After Boo made his last pass, we began searching the area for other targets. There was a dry riverbed that ran from the target area down a narrow ravine towards a town. I noticed several peculiarly shaped rocks in the riverbed, too square to be just rocks. From 15,000 feet they appeared to be the same color and texture as the rocks in the riverbed, but their squared edges led me to believe they were man-made. My first thought was that they were cement blocks used to contain the river, but they were not positioned at the edges of the bank. I set my formation up for a reconnaissance pass, utilizing the A- 10’s top-secret, hi-tech targeting system—a pair of Canon space-stabilized binoculars. My suspicions were confirmed; those shifty Serbs were attempting to hide six tanks in this riverbed by putting them next to rock formations and covering some of them with tree branches. When I keyed my mike to talk to my wingman, I am certain I sounded even more excited than Lester. I talked Boo’s eyes onto the tanks and quickly briefed him on my attack plan. I maneuvered into position, rolled in, and fired an AGM-65D Maverick missile on the tank at the north end of the riverbed. As I came off target with flares, I observed a direct hit on the lead tank. I instructed Boo to hit the tank at the south end of the formation to pin them in the riverbed. As Boo maneuvered for his shot, his target began to move in an attempt to escape. Boo scored a direct hit on the “mover,” pinning down the other tanks in the riverbed. The rest of the tanks were now urgently trying to escape as we continued our assault.
    For some strange reason, the Serbs were getting a little tired of our act and began firing some pretty intense AAA at us. Most of it exploded below our altitude. We changed our axis of attack and continued our assault on the tanks with our remaining two Mavericks and then made one pass with the GAU-8 gun. Out of gas, we reluctantly handed the target area over to another flight of A-10s, who found more vehicles close by and continued the attack. That was my first experience finding concealed armor in an environment other than a desert, be it Iraq or the Nevada/California desert. It was a completely different ball game, but the learning curve was high for most of us. The Serbs quickly learned that they were going to have to do a better job of concealing their fielded forces with A-10s on the prowl. We were patient and persistent in our pursuit of targets. It was a great day for the Panthers!

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

    After two all-night squadron top-three tours and a weather cancel on my next sortie, I was starting to feel the fatigue I had seen in everyone’s eyes the day I arrived at Gioia. That was the only time I was grateful for my time at home in Germany with my wife and three-month-old son while my squadron was fighting in the skies over Kosovo. We knew we were in this for the long haul. Milosevic would not fold easily.
    Since I was not an AFAC, I coveted the sorties when I was scheduled as a striker because I could lead the mission and have more control over the outcome. On 30 April I briefed my wingman, Lt Scott “Glib” Gibson, like I briefed all the other missions. We were going to take the fight to the Serbs as Chili 11 flight. I had demonstrated my ability to find lucrative targets with some degree of success, so the AFAC assigned to my sector allowed me to perform my own reconnaissance, but I had to confirm the validity of targets with him before attacking. This day’s weather was forecasted to be “severe clear” over Kosovo. I was climbing up the A-10 ladder to enter my “office” and go kill stuff, when Maj Thomas J. “Bumpy” Feldhausen, the top-three supervisor, drove up and handed me a target photo, complete with coordinates. A “top three” designation is reserved for the squadron commander, operations officer, or another senior squadron member responsible for the execution of the day’s operations. The Brits had flown over a small compound southeast of Urosevac that morning and had taken a recce photo of some tanks parked next to a house. Once again, I couldn’t believe my luck. I could hardly wait to get across the Adriatic, hit the tanker, and get into theater to see if the tanks were indeed still there.
    As I pressed into the area of responsibility (AOR), I called my AFAC and told him about the target area. Since he was busy with his own flight’s carnage and destruction, he cleared me to engage that target area. Glib and I circled the area at 15,000 feet and found the house and the tank. The tank was nestled close to the house, so the Maverick was the weapon of choice to prevent any collateral damage. I rolled and acquired the tank in the cockpit’s Maverick video display. It was white hot from sitting in the spring sun all day. I locked the target, waited for a valid weapons lock, and fired the missile. The Maverick roared off the rail like a locomotive, finding and destroying its target in a blaze of smoke and fire.
Lt Glib Gibson inspecting Willy Pete rockets and IIR Mavericks prior to a daytime combat mission (USAF Photo by SrA Stan Parker)
    Knowing that tanks are usually not solitary creatures by nature, Glib and I searched the immediate area for more targets. Using the binos we could see tank trails running throughout the area. Once again, I noted something peculiar: a mound of hay isolated in a field, surrounded by tank tracks. Having lived in Germany for the past three years, I knew that German farmers piled their hay in stacks close to their barns. I never saw a single pile of hay just sitting in a field alone with no cattle. On my drives to work in Germany, I had watched the hay combines during the harvest season. The machines would pick up hay, “process” it, and drop the bundles out the back without stopping. This resulted in piles of hay in uniform, regularly spaced patterns, quite unlike what I was now seeing from the air.
    I dropped down and took a closer look with the binos as Glib gave cover. My suspicions were again confirmed. The Serbs were trying to hide a tank under a pile of hay in the middle of the field. I clearly saw the turret sticking out from the hay. There was only one thing left to do. I rolled in with the mighty GAU-8 gun and put two 150-round bursts of 30 mm armorpiercing and high-incendiary explosive rounds into that tank. In classic Hog fashion, the gun vibrated the cockpit and rudder pedals and filled the cockpit with the sweet smell of gunpowder as the bullets found their mark. The tank went up in bright-red flames that shot 40 feet into the air, and it was still burning and cooking off unexpended rounds when we left the area 30 minutes later.
    Glib and I continued our search of the target area; behind a building we found two square, green patches that just did not quite match the surrounding foliage and grass. I rolled in with my Maverick missile to get an IR image of what we were seeing. What started as a reconnaissance pass quickly became an attack as the Maverick’s imagery clearly showed two tanks concealed under a camouflage net. After I killed the first tank with a Maverick, I directed Glib to take out the second. He rolled in and took it out with a Maverick missile.
    Out of gas, we reluctantly retracted our fangs and headed for home. The next day a fellow pilot on an AFAC mission saw the tank I had shot with the gun: the tank—with its turret blown off—was sitting in the field. For two days following the Brits’ discovery of this tank by the house, coalition forces found and killed numerous pieces of artillery and armor hidden in and around this target area. A picture is indeed worth a thousand kills. Once again, I learned that if something on the ground doesn’t look quite right, it’s probably a Serb hiding from the wrath of the Warthog. Thanks to my British war brethren for the great target.

Break Left! No, Your Other Left!

    The first of May began like any other day in Gioia. I was scheduled to fly as Maj Kirk M. “Corn” Mays’s wingman on an AFAC mission around the town of Urosevac. Corn was not alone in his feeling of frustration in not being able to find great targets. The Serbs were getting craftier at hiding their fielded forces because the A-10s were locating and killing them daily. Secret funerals were being held in Belgrade so the Yugoslav public would not know how many of their boys were dying in Kosovo. The Serbs were digging in deeper, and we were getting better at discovering their secrets of concealment.
    Corn asked me to lead the reconnaissance portion of the mission since I had succeeded in finding some lucrative targets in the past. We flew into theater and began working with the operator of a UAV who had spotted a tank and Serbian troops hidden in a tree line. I searched the area of interest with both binoculars and the Maverick seeker, but could not positively identify the target in question. Neither could I talk to the UAV operator directly because he was located too far from the AOR. Instead, I relayed my radio transmissions through the ABCCC. This process took a great deal of time and required us to stay in the target area longer than I had wished to positively identify the target. I rolled in and put three Willy Pete rockets close to the area I thought the UAV operator was talking about in hopes that the operator would see my smoke and confirm its position in relation to the target. Minutes later I got the confirmation from the UAV pilot via ABCCC that I was looking at the correct target. At this point Corn and I were rapidly approaching our bingo fuel for our next aerial refueling. Corn was coordinating a handoff of the target area with another two-ship of Hogs piloted by Capt James P. “Meegs” Meger and 1st Lt Michael A. “Scud” Curley. I was positioning myself to roll in and drop my Mk-82s on the troop concentration in the trees.
    Just as I was about to roll in, I heard, “SAM launch, SAM launch” over the UHF radio. Looking east towards Pristina Airfield, I saw a volley of two SAMs followed immediately by two more. I was amazed at the amount of white, billowy smoke they produced and the rapid speed at which they flew in our direction. All four SAMs were guiding towards us. I began evasive maneuvers and called the SAM launch out on the very high frequency (VHF) radio that all four A-10s were using to work the target-area handoff. All four A-10s began a SAM defense ballet, the likes of which I have never seen and hope to never see again. The sky was full of chaff, and the world’s greatest attack pilots were maneuvering their Hogs like their lives depended on it—and they did! A SAM, the second launched, malfunctioned and detonated in spectacular fashion about 2,000 feet above the ground. From my now-inverted cockpit, I could feel the concussion of the warhead detonating in a blaze of orange fire. The other three SAMs continued on course in an attempt to thwart our attack against the troops massed in the forest below us.
    All but one of the SAMs failed to guide—and that one chose Scud as its soon-to-be victim. Wouldn’t you know it would pick Scud, who was the least-seasoned pilot in our four-ship—a formation that had over 3,500 hours of combined Hog experience. Meegs did an excellent job of defeating the threat, maintaining situational awareness on his wingman, and calling out the final evasive maneuvers that prevented the SAM from impacting Scud’s jet and ruining our day. All four SAMs were defeated, and the Serb troops in the forest below awaited the wrath of the Panthers. The Serbs failed to take a lesson from Desert Storm. In that campaign, the Iraqis quickly learned that if they shot at an A-10 they had better kill it because if it survives, it is going to shoot back with a vengeance.
    Corn and I were out of gas, so we departed the area with our hearts in our throats and left the counterattack to Meegs. He dropped four Mk-82 airburst bombs on the troop concentration in the trees and eliminated those forces from the rest of the campaign. (I can make that statement with a high degree of certainty. One year later I received an Air Medal for my participation in that sortie. Afterwards a member of the audience approached me, introducing himself as the UAV operator with whom we had worked during that mission. He had personally witnessed Meegs’s Mk-82 attack, vouched for the devastation it created, and was pleased to finally meet one of the mission’s pilots.)
    After getting fuel from the tanker, Corn and I proceeded back into the KEZ to look for more targets in the northern region of the country. We had received numerous intel reports about troops and targets in this region, but we had not achieved much success in finding them. We flew approximately 15 miles northwest of Pristina Airfield and began searching for targets. I found one area of interest that appeared to have mobile AAA and possibly some other military vehicles in a small valley. I was just starting to talk Corn’s eyes onto the area to get his opinion when I saw two SAM launches from just north of Pristina Airfield. I thought, “Here we go again.” I called out the SAM launch to Corn and directed his break turn to defeat the attack. As I dumped out as much chaff as I could muster and made the appropriate break turn, I looked back to see that Corn had turned in the wrong direction. He was heading straight towards the SAMs, increasing their probability of intercept. Realizing that he did not see the SAMs, I directed him to “take it down! Break right now and roll out west! Chaff! Chaff! Chaff!” As the second SAM guided in Corn’s direction, I continued to monitor his progress and update his maneuvers while attempting to talk his eyes onto the threat. I was certain the SAM was going to hit him, and I was just about to call out a last ditch maneuver when it began to drift aft to pass about 1,000 feet behind him.
    Once we were clear of the SAMs, I plotted the area from which they were launched on a 1-to-50 map. I passed the coordinates to a Navy F/A-18 flight, which swiftly acquired the SAM system and destroyed it with LGBs within minutes of its attack on our flight. After the attack, we exited the area and headed home. The trip back to Gioia was very quiet. Not until we got to the cash register to pay for dinner that evening, Corn insisting that he pay for mine, did I realize the full magnitude of what had happened that day. Not feeling the effects of combat until hours after the mission and debrief is fairly common. It seemed that after a day of fighting the Serbs, the adrenaline level ran out somewhere between the order of steamed mussels with garlic and butter and the homemade gelato with fresh strawberries and cream on top. Dinner at the Truck Stop (a favorite eatery between Gioia and the hotel) was a savored ritual. The food was Italian standard—excellent—and the meal was a chance to recap the day’s events over a glass of wine. That’s when everyone seemed to “crash.” During those moments, I said a little thank-you prayer and just hoped that somehow what we did that day had really made a difference.

Final Thoughts

    I flew several other sorties over Kosovo, fighting the Serbs with the best fighter pilots in the world. Milosevic did not stand a chance. The sorties I have recalled here were examples of the most memorable ones. For me, OAF was exciting, stressful, and frustrating. It was exciting because I finally got a chance to fight in the world’s finest attack aircraft with the best-trained and most professional pilots in the US Air Force. It was stressful because we were getting shot at daily and the physical demands of running a 24-hour wartime operation took its toll on all of us. And it was frustrating to see villages burning several weeks into the campaign and not knowing what to do at that moment to stop the carnage. I am grateful to God that he delivered us all home safely to our families and that the air campaign was enough to convince Milosevic to give in. My last sortie in the A-10 was on 17 May, when I took a jet from Italy back to Spangdahlem for required maintenance. Opportunities like flying in this campaign present themselves only once in a lifetime. I am grateful and honored to have been a member of the fighting 81st FS Panthers.

Chapter 3


Lt Col Chris “Kimos” Haave

    The successful around-the-clock attack of the enemy would not have been possible without an enormous and meticulously coordinated effort by a host of highly qualified professionals. The 81st EFS was supported and sustained by personnel of the 31st EOG at Aviano and the 40th EOG at Gioia del Colle. This chapter tells the story of the dedicated airmen in maintenance, logistics, munitions, personnel, services, civil engineering, contracting, communications, air traffic control, weather, photography, security forces, and the chaplaincy who made the A-10’s success possible.
    In October 1998, Headquarters USAFE ordered the 81st to send six A-10s to Aviano to stand up a CSAR alert posture. That crisis ended after just one month and allowed the A-10s to return to Spangdahlem. Even though the crisis was brief, the 81st still missed its once-a-year deployment to Nellis AFB, Nevada, and lost its chance to participate in Red Flag, Air Warrior, and the Gunsmoke gunnery competition. Little did the personnel of the 81st and other supporting units realize that they would soon have the most intensive large-force employment and gunnery experience of their careers.
    In chapter 1, I stated that the 81st started its six-month-long deployment to Italy at Aviano and that it was hosted by the Buzzards of the 510th FS. However, I failed to mention that the two squadrons shared a common heritage. The 510th had been an A-10 squadron at RAF Bentwaters until October 1992 when it moved to Spangdahlem AB, where it remained until it was inactivated in February 1994. In fact, the first time Warthogs went to Aviano in support of operations over Bosnia, they went as the Buzzards. During the Air Force’s reorganization in the mid-1990s, the 510th was reactivated at Aviano AB, flying F-16s. The A-10s at Spangdahlem were redesignated and assumed the name and traditions of the 81st FS Panthers, which had formerly been an F-4G Wild Weasel squadron at Spangdahlem.
    Over the years, the squadrons maintained strong ties. The Buzzards exhibited extraordinary hospitality when the Panthers came to town. During the 81st’s one-month deployment to Aviano beginning 7 January 1999, the 510th invited the Panthers to use its operations facilities while most of its F-16s were away. On 7 February 1999 we were ordered to remain in place and stand up a CSAR alert. The Buzzards, although now at full strength and in cramped quarters, once again invited us to operate from their facilities.
    All of the squadrons in the 31st Fighter Wing, particularly communications, transportation, airfield management, and intelligence, generously supported the Panthers. When we hastily relocated from Aviano to Gioia del Colle in April, commercial trucking was uncertain, and Aviano’s 603d Air Control Squadron volunteered its two-and-one-half-ton trucks to take us 400 miles down the road. Although commercial trucks were eventually located, the 603d’s sincere offer was indicative of the welcome we had at Aviano. This above-and-beyond hospitality was even more impressive considering the crush of units and personnel that filled every available parking space, hangar, and office on its air patch.

The Desire to Go South

    Despite our comfortable arrangements at Aviano, we needed to move south to be more responsive with our CSAR mission. The CAOC proposed that we stand up a CSAR alert at Aviano and another at Amendola AB during our October 1998 deployment. Amendola is an Italian air force training base on the Adriatic coast opposite Split, Croatia; unfortunately, it had no US or NATO infrastructure to support all the communications and weapons requirements for CSAR missions. Although we wanted to move farther south, we rejected the idea of splitting our squadron. We proposed moving our entire CSAR contingent to Brindisi, where we could work alongside our principal partners in CSAR operations—the special forces’ helicopter units. However, Brindisi was already too crowded, and the USAF wanted to leave in the near future.
    We continued to look for a more southern location. Amendola was now no longer possible, since the Dutch and Belgian air forces had filled all the available ramp space with a joint F-16 detachment. Goldie and I looked to the Sixteenth Air Force force-structure experts for help and asked to review their aerodrome site surveys. After looking at airfield diagrams in our instrument-approach books, we were most interested in Brindisi and Gioia del Colle. The surveys of the Sixteenth Air Force experts indicated there were too many complicating issues with United Nations (UN) logistics to safely locate even six A-10s at Brindisi. They also told us the Italian government had not given them approval to survey Gioia del Colle.
    Our sorties during our first two days of operations (30 and 31 March) were seven and one-half hours long but provided less than two hours of on-station mission time. This proved the need to relocate nearer the KEZ. The physical toll on the pilots was enormous: two hours to get to the KEZ followed by three hours of “one-armed paper hanging” in the target area (including about an hour going to and from the tanker), finished by two hours of struggling to stay awake on the way home. If we flew two long sorties per day, our maintainers wouldn’t have enough time to fix any broken jets and still maintain aircraft ready for the CSAR alert. We were faced with limiting ourselves to one sortie per aircraft per day or accepting a continuous lowering of our mission-capable rate. Either choice would inevitably result in a reduction to one sortie per day. At the same time, the CAOC had asked us to increase our sortie rate and the already stretched 31st AEW at Aviano was told to expect another squadron or two of F-16CJs from Shaw AFB, South Carolina. It was time for us to go.
    On Monday, 5 April, anticipating that the Italians might say “no,” I called the commander of the British GR-7 detachment at Gioia del Colle to ask whether there was sufficient parking space for 18 A-10s. He told me, “Yes, there is… We built our own parking areas and taxiways on the other side of the runway, so we’ve left plenty of room.”
    Eureka! I immediately called Col Gregg Sanders, an A-10 pilot and the 52d Fighter Wing’s inspector general, who had recently been pressed into service in the planning division (C-5) at the CAOC. I told him about the situation at Gioia and asked if the CAOC would approve the 81st’s sending a site-survey team there. Later that day, after coordinating with the local Italian authorities, he called back to say that our team could depart the next day to visit Gioia del Colle and Amendola.
    Our team of maintainers, aviators, and support personnel took two days to complete their site visit and returned to Aviano on Wednesday, 7 April. Gioia del Colle was the clear choice. It had more available space on the aerodrome and more obtainable hotel accommodations in the local area. The next day we sent an advance echelon team, comprised of Sixteenth Air Force and 81st personnel, to Gioia to evaluate the facilities and determine what it would take for us to begin to operate. Their initial assessment was that it would require at least one week without flying to get it ready. There was not enough space to build up munitions, nor were there sufficient maintenance facilities. Two floors of an old dormitory (complete with beds), serviced by a finicky and outdated electrical system, would become our operations area. On 9 April we received EUCOM orders to have 15 jets in place at Gioia by 11 April.
    The same order requested that Air Combat Command (ACC) deploy four A-10s from the continental United States (CONUS) to augment us. I called CAOC personnel to make sure they understood that the 81st had three additional aircraft at Spang that we could immediately bring to Gioia. They said, “No one here knew that.” General Short had asked, “How many A-10s are at Aviano?” After the CAOC told him “15,” he replied, “Get four more from ACC.” It was too late to turn off the request, but we knew ACC couldn’t generate the aircraft and fly them across the Atlantic for at least a week. I tried to get approval to bring in the three 81st FS jets. After I had called the CAOC, Sixteenth Air Force, NATO’s Regional Headquarters Allied Forces Southern Europe (AFSOUTH) at Naples, EUCOM, and USAFE, I learned that publishing another EUCOM tasker in less than 24 hours for just three jets was in the “too hard to do” locker. However, I also learned that USAFE could move its own jets within the European theater without higher approval. After getting the CAOC to buy off on the idea, I asked my home wing leadership to weigh in for us. Brig Gen Scott Van Cleef, Col Jan-Marc Jouas, and Col Al Thompson came through, and on 10 April we got USAFE approval to fly the last three Spang A-10s into Gioia on 11 April.

The Move to Gioia

    The move to Gioia del Colle on 11 April 1999 involved establishing full-up operations in near bare-base conditions and relocating people, equipment, and aircraft from both Spangdahlem and Aviano. The following week contained one of the least known but most impressive logistics accomplishments of OAF. Maintainers of the 81st FS and logisticians of the 52d and 31st AEWs had only one “down day” to pack up all the tools and equipment, and load them on trucks, “Cadillac bins,” or pallets, while still maintaining a full CSAR alert of six aircraft and two spares. Even the right parts arrived at Aviano in time to replace those missing from our cannibalized aircraft (CANN bird), so we could fly it to Gioia. Our weapons loaders added extra bombs and missiles to the A-10s at Aviano to help cover our immediate munition needs. We estimated that it would take the munitions depot at Camp Darby, located on the Italian Riviera near Livorno, Italy, about three days to transport the weapons over the 500 miles to Gioia and begin routine deliveries. Eleven trucks departed Aviano for Gioia on 10 April. The next day, C-130s departed from Ramstein, Spangdahlem, and Aviano, and all 18 A-10s (15 from Aviano and three from Spangdahlem) took off on time and landed on time at Gioia del Colle. Colonel Thompson flew one of the three Spangdahlem A-10s to Gioia, where he established and assumed command of the new 40th EOG.
    I arrived in the first jet to land at Gioia and was unpleasantly surprised to find a USAF cameraman filming us as we taxied in and climbed down the ladders. Airlift is a zero-sum game. If something is added, something else must be taken off. I was livid—what was a cameraman doing on the flight line when we barely had enough crew chiefs to recover our jets and enough airlift to move our most critical items? I didn’t yell at him; he just got on the returning plane as ordered. I found out later that Ramstein had manifested combat camera personnel and equipment on the first C-130 to land at Gioia. While they were just trying to do their job—document our move and beddown—they took up limited airlift capacity, and I’d much rather have had more toolboxes.
A-10 with extra munitions deploying to Gioia (Photo courtesy of author)
    The maintainers already on site immediately went to work generating the aircraft necessary to bring up our CSAR alert status. We were down for only two hours—but even that delay would have been less if it were not for a fuel truck delay. These maintainers worked through the night—often without enough tools to go around. MSgt Daniel E. “Dan” Weber, MSgt Rod Many, and a number of key maintainers toiled for 24 hours straight to ensure we had jets to meet our tasking. The aircraft were ready for the next morning’s AFAC lines, and the first sortie airborne appropriately logged a Maverick kill on a Serb APC.
    Operations experts also sprang into action, setting up a functional intel section (crucial for CSAR and AFAC missions), secure telephones, an operations desk, and life support in less than 12 hours. By the morning of 12 April, our combat operations were up and running around-the-clock again.

Integration of the 40th Expeditionary Operations Group

    Meanwhile the 74th FS Flying Tigers at Pope readied four aircraft, nine pilots, and 65 maintainers to send to the fight. We had asked ACC to provide pilots with a good level of experience, particularly in AFAC and CSAR missions. Once they arrived at Spangdahlem, USAFE told them they might be used to train the 81st’s eight new pilots instead of joining the Panthers at Gioia. USAFE was aware of the capacity to park only 18 A-10s at Gioia, and those spots it knew were being used by the 81st. We had not yet informed USAFE that we had found room for four more A-10s. In a proposal to the CAOC, we highlighted the increased sortie rates we could achieve with those additional aircraft, and its leadership won the Italian government’s approval. The Italian base commander wasn’t pleased with either the process or the decision, but we didn’t want to give him a chance to veto it—and we now had 22 Hogs to unleash in the KEZ. Colonel Thompson, as commander of the newly established 40th EOG, once again worked his magic, soothed hurt egos, and smoothed things over.
    After some initial awkwardness, all of the 81st and 74th operations and maintenance functions became fully integrated into the 40th EOG. Flight leads from each squadron flew with wingmen from the other, and a Flying Tiger maintenance-production superintendent ran the daytime-sortie generation for all 22 aircraft. There was some good-natured hazing, particularly on Hog paint jobs. For some months, the 81st had taken care of a 74th jet that had been left in Kuwait after a deployment because of parts problems. It was eventually flown to Spangdahlem to be fixed. When that aircraft (the fifth Flying Tiger jet) arrived at Gioia, it not only had the trademark Flying Tiger shark’s teeth on the nose but also huge, black panther heads on the engine nacelles. Soon afterwards, and with the same good-natured spirit, the lower jaws of the panther heads that decorated both engine nacelles were painted over in light gray, making the panthers look like rats.
Pope A-10 with the Panther-Rat cowling (Photo courtesy of author)

Backbone of the Mission

    All of the flight-line personnel worked together with inexhaustible energy and enthusiasm. After every sortie, crew chiefs and weapons loaders swarmed over the aircraft to prepare it for the next flight. Nothing motivates tired, greasy wrench turners more than seeing their jets—the ones they had launched fully loaded—come home with clean wings. Together, the 81st and 74th had a total of 26 A-10s in-theater. Of those, 22 were at Gioia del Colle, and at any given time at least two were undergoing major inspections at Spangdahlem. The 40th EOG normally flew 30 combat sorties with those 22 aircraft during the day between 0600 and 1830, and then used them to generate the six aircraft to stand CSAR alert between 1830 and 0600 the next morning. We launched up to 16 aircraft on each day’s “first go” and then turned (postflighted, loaded, preflighted, and launched) 14 of those aircraft on the “second go” each day. The British also flew an aggressive schedule with their one forward-deployed squadron—sometimes launching 10 of their 12 GR-7s. The Italians eventually had 24 Tornados at Gioia del Colle, but we never saw them launch more than six aircraft at a time. As a matter of interest, the 40th EOG flew more sorties and hours in Allied Force than the entire Italian air force. The French air force deployed 15 of their Mirage 2000D strike aircraft to Gioia and, like most European air forces, swapped out their personnel after three to six weeks, flying only six days per week. By contrast the 40th EOG personnel knew we were there for the duration and flew seven days a week. We made an exception on 1 May 1999, the only OAF day we “took off”—even then we still maintained a 24-hour CSAR alert.
    There is not enough room here to detail all of the incredible feats of professionalism that molded the 81st FS, 74th FS, 40th ELS, and 40th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron (EABS) into an efficient fighting team. The numerous small things were exemplified by our first sergeant, SMSgt Stanley J. “Stan” Ellington, who went to a local grocery store to buy food on the first day for folks who never left their jets. Chaplain (Maj) Karl Wiersum’s frequent visits to the flight line—just to listen to people who needed to talk—made a world of difference in putting jets in the air and bringing them back again. Every member of our team played an absolutely crucial role in carrying out the mission, and the following stories can relate only a small part of it. Every pilot knew that no excuse could justify missing the target when all of those people had done all of that work to put him in a cockpit with an enemy tank in his sights.
Crew chiefs generating aircraft and finishing the forms (USAF Photo)

Commanding the 40th Expeditionary Operations Group
Col Al “Moose” Thompson

    Operation Allied Force was my first true combat experience, and I was the 40th EOG commander deployed to Gioia del Colle AB in southern Italy. At our peak, we had 25 A-10 aircraft from the 81st EFS and the 74th EFS and nearly 700 personnel.
40th EOG Hogwalk (USAF Photo)
    Combat operations began against Serbia on 24 March 1999. The 81st EFS from Spangdahlem, flying the trusty A-10, participated from day one of the air campaign while deployed to Aviano. The 74th EFS from Pope joined us at Gioia del Colle.
    When it became apparent early in the NATO air campaign that Aviano-based A-10s could not be optimally employed because of the long distances to Kosovo, they found a new home at Gioia del Colle, an Italian air force fighter base. The 81st was out of the bomb-dropping business for only 36 hours while it deployed forward to Gioia del Colle. By air, it was only about 240 nautical miles (NM) from Gioia to Pristina—the capital of Kosovo province. This record-setting deployment was truly a Herculean effort and significantly increased our on-station time and combat effectiveness.
    I faced the opportunity and challenge of a lifetime when Brig Gen Scott P. Van Cleef, the 52d AEW commander, selected me to stand up and command the 40th EOG at Gioia. On 11 April I deployed to Gioia with three A-10s from Spangdahlem to fill out the 81st’s 18-aircraft squadron. It may seem unusual for a vice wing commander to command an expeditionary group. Although it did not happen, initial thinking had this group expanding to an expeditionary fighter wing.
Col Al Thompson and Brig Gen Scott Van Cleef (USAF Photo)

A Commander’s Concerns

    I had to set priorities quickly and get organized upon arrival at Gioia del Colle. The first priority was to meet each day’s ATO in the variety of missions tasked by Lt Gen Mike Short, the combined forces air component commander (CFACC), at the CAOC in northern Italy. Just as important was mission safety on the ground and in the air. The peacetime rules, of course, did not go away, and a host of new ones for combat operations—known as ROEs—came into play.
    My third priority (frankly, they were all nearly equal in importance) was taking care of the men and women charged with performing the mission. I knew I could depend on all of them to do their very best. I wanted to set our basic direction, keep us focused, and rely on the leaders at all levels from my four squadron commanders (two fighter, one support, and one logistics) all the way down to dedicated crew chiefs. None of us knew how long the air campaign would last, so we each had to be prepared for the long haul. There was no time for distractions—we just sent home anyone not pulling his or her weight or not demonstrating absolute professional behavior. While I tried not to add a lot of extra rules for our deployed situation, but those few I did add had a direct effect on the mission and force protection.
    Gioia del Colle is a large NATO air base designed to accept other squadrons during conflict. Upon our arrival we were given several ramps for A-10 parking, four hardened aircraft shelters for our maintenance functions, and some administrative space as well. The base is blessed with two long, parallel runways, and the weather in the spring and summer is normally clear except for some morning fog. Since Gioia del Colle is a fighter base, our integration did not pose a huge problem. Because Gioia was so close to Kosovo, many other NATO squadrons still desired to bed down there—even long after we arrived, when it was bursting at the seams.
    From day one, the Italian 36th Stormo (Wing) was a great host despite our almost overnight deployment. Although the 36th Stormo provided lots of space and such basics as fuel, electricity, and water, we were on our own for everything else. I spent lots of time maintaining good relations and working particular issues with the Italians and the RAF detachment. The Brits had been regularly deployed to Gioia during the previous five years to support sorties over Bosnia-Herzegovina. The RAF had great insight and experience on how to fit in and work smoothly with the Italian hosts. The Italians flew Tornado fighter-bombers and the older F-104 Starfighters. The British flew the GR-7, more commonly called the Harrier. Challenges with our host wing were frequent; the following account highlights a couple of them.
    Our group had most of the functions that a wing would have. Our Air Force security forces, all 13 strong, were forbidden by the Italians to carry weapons. The Italian military had primary responsibility for security both inside and outside the base fence. In the first days after arrival, we found several holes cut in the fence next to our parked A-10s—not a good sign. Shortly after, a bomb threat was directed at our personnel in one hotel. Additionally, our Italian hosts were very concerned about our safety off base and the number and location of hotels we had contracted. Hence we avoided taking military vehicles off base and took other precautions as well.
    Another challenge was getting an accurate reading on the weather during foggy mornings to determine if our first-go sorties would be permitted to take off. Leaving out the technical details, the way the USAF computes the visibility and ceiling is slightly different than the Italians’ procedure. There is no exactly right or wrong way to do this. If done independently, both national measurement methods and weather minimums would allow aircraft to operate under similar conditions. However, the Italians’ methods for measuring ceiling and visibility are more conservative than ours, and our weather criteria are more conservative than theirs. When Italian measurements were applied to US criteria, US aircraft were prevented from taking off under weather conditions that Italian rules deemed suitable for take off. We were hamstrung by this situation on several mornings and, in my view, lost sorties unnecessarily. We worked quickly to find a compromise with the host base and tower personnel. Afterward we essentially used our own weather data for determining take-off minimums; under our Air Force and USAFE regulations, I also had a limited waiver authority, which I exercised on foggy mornings. These alternatives were sound and safe. All pilots had the right to decline to launch if they thought the weather was too bad, but none ever refused.
    Driving in southern Italy can be very risky, and, sadly, we had several major car wrecks. Some of the accidents resulted in serious injuries but, thankfully, no fatalities. While I was in command, the most serious accident involved a senior maintenance supervisor who drove back to his hotel alone after a 12-hour night shift. He fell asleep and literally drove a full-size guardrail through the center of his rental car from front to back. Going through, it struck the side of his face and shoulder. If the car seat had not given way instantly to lessen the blow, he would have died on the spot. He received emergency treatment, an immediate operation in an Italian civilian hospital, and was then flown by the USAF Aeromedical Evacuation system (Medevac) to the United States to complete his recovery.
    We also had a serious aircraft-parking problem at Gioia with fully combat-loaded A-10s lined up a few feet from each other on two closely spaced concrete ramps. Since we did not meet any of the Air Force weapons-safety criteria, we required a three-star USAFE waiver just to operate. If a single rocket had gone off or an engine had caught fire on start, we could have lost all of the A-10s and a few hundred personnel in seconds. This situation reminded me of a similarly congested parking problem at Bien Hoa AB, South Vietnam, early in the Vietnam War. The enemy fired mortars one night and destroyed many aircraft. The aircraft vulnerability at Gioia was not acceptable and had to be improved. During the visit of the secretary of the Air Force and the commander of USAFE, I walked them both down the entire ramp to ensure they were aware of the parking situation. More importantly, I briefed them on our plan of action—to quickly build five temporary asphalt parking pads around the airfield so not more than four A-10s would be at risk from any one incident.
    The EOG made an incredible effort to get engines, pods, and parts to keep the jets flying at a high rate, and to build and load the bombs, missiles, and bullets. Taking care of the personnel was no easy task either, but it was done with great focus, energy, and class. Our parent wing, the 52d at Spangdahlem, provided around-the-clock support, and no task was too hard for it. I had gained valuable experience, which really helped me accomplish the overall mission by serving as the wing’s vice commander and regularly flying with the 81st before the conflict began. General Van Cleef exhibited remarkable leadership and we talked almost daily. Even though he had his hands full as the AEW commander, he still found time to visit us several times and see us in action. General Short’s Air Forces’ forces rear (a term he used to describe the USAFE staff) was also spectacular and provided world-class support.
    I tried to fly almost every other day, but that was only one key part of my command. Staying on top of the myriad of issues on the ground was equally important, as was hosting visiting dignitaries and military leaders. We had the press to deal with, but we were not their main interest in Italy or even at Gioia. I visited as many maintenance functions as I could each day, usually on my expeditionary bicycle. As the senior safety officer, I visited each CSAR ground-alert crew and aircraft daily during the entire conflict.
    We were essentially on our own to establish and maintain communications with higher headquarters. We had the deincluded about 30 high-tech specialists led by a young captain. The package’s equipment included a satellite dish, switchboard, and all the key communications capability we needed. The team was spectacular and worked tirelessly to get us set up in a few short days with all the military communications critical to performing our mission. They ensured we had the ATO in time to plan and execute each day’s missions.
    I was scheduled to fly on 27 missions during the 60 days I commanded the EOG. Three of my sorties were cancelled because of bad weather, so I ended up flying 24 long and hard sorties over Kosovo. My first mission was on 15 April with the 81st EFS commander to southeastern Serbia. I was really keyed up and had much on my mind. The night before I got only about three hours of sleep—not ideal for my first taste of combat. We were on an AFAC mission, primarily working the Kumanovo Valley, a Serb area northeast of Skopje, Macedonia, that includes the towns of Presevo, Bujanovac, and Vranje.
Lt Col Chris Haave and Col Al Thompson debrief their mission (USAF Photo)
    I flew as number two, having the primary responsibility of keeping lead from getting shot down and then attacking the targets he assigned me. His job was to find military targets and then control a variety of NATO fighters during their attacks. We launched from Gioia del Colle with a typical combat load. The weather on this first mission was incredible, not a cloud in the sky. We pushed in after “tanking” (aerial refueling) and lots of airborne coordination, and then immediately began searching for ground targets. Since this was the first day we could use Macedonian airspace to fly attack missions, we had not yet worked this valley. Therefore, targets were plentiful, but so were SAMs and AAA. Not long after we entered the area, I called a break turn for a shoulder-fired SAM. I was not sure I called it in time since I saw its smoke trail pass between our two aircraft. AAA was everywhere that morning, most of it well below our altitude. I was excited, to say the least, and felt this would be a long and hardfought air campaign. We found, attacked, and killed several targets, including some artillery and APCs.
    During all of our sorties, our total focus was on the mission. We had no reservations about what our president, secretary of defense, and NATO commanders had tasked us to do. The horror of nearly a million Kosovo refugees fleeing their homes was more than enough reason. I was ever mindful of the great tragedy unfolding on the ground before our eyes. Villages were being burned every day, masses of humanity were camping in the most austere conditions in the hills, and innocent people were being forced to flee their homeland with everything they owned pulled by farm tractors. Families were separated, and, as we learned much later, untold atrocities were being committed.
    Our overarching mission was very clear—find and destroy the Serb military in and around Kosovo, reduce its capability, and inhibit its ability to move and operate. The mission was always very difficult since there was no direct threat of a NATO ground invasion. The Serb army and MUP could—and did—hide from us, commandeering and using civilian vehicles to move around. Hence, finding and attacking a massed military ground force in the traditional sense was not in the cards.
    Life seemed surreal flying home over the Adriatic after the first mission. Fatigue set in immediately after landing. After over five hours in the air, I felt almost too tired to climb out of the aircraft—I vowed to do better next time.
    The most difficult missions were our CSAR or Sandy missions. Capt Buster Cherrey, mission commander on the successful rescue of an F-117 pilot downed deep inside Serbia, was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry. He was recognized by the president of the United States on 27 January 2000 during the State of the Union Address:
    And we should be proud of the men and women of our Armed Forces and those of our allies who stopped the ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, enabling a million people to return to their homes.
    I flew a mission on 9 June, the last day we were authorized to expend ordnance. We found and attacked several APCs in southern Kosovo near Mount Osljak before my air conditioner control froze in the full-cold position, which forced our return to Gioia. For over an hour I flew in a frigid cockpit and thought my toes would suffer frostbite until the valve somehow freed itself.
    By 10 June my AEW commander wanted me back at Spangdahlem, and Col Gregg Sanders, my extremely capable deputy, was ready to take over. I flew home solo in the A-10 on 11 June, after assembling and thanking all of the fine airmen. I could not find the right words of appreciation for their dedication, hard work, and professionalism. What an unbelievable effort by every one of them—I have never been prouder of an all-ranks group of airmen in my entire life! Readjusting to the parent wing—52d AEW—was difficult, and I immediately turned my energy to helping reconstitute our wing’s force.

Lessons Learned

    It is important to review observations and lessons learned, in many cases lessons relearned, or lessons validated under fire. In no exact order, here are mine:

    • With solid leadership, training, and equipment, anything is possible. Any clear mission is attainable over time. No one can precisely predict the time necessary to complete an air campaign or any other type of campaign.
    • Realistic training and exercises pay off in combat. Those experiences provide confidence to commanders and airmen at all levels. Realistic training and exercises also help develop tactics and procedures that, in turn, minimize learning on-the-fly and unnecessary mistakes.
    • Experienced pilots are a force multiplier. Both the 81st and the 74th were blessed with mature pilots and high levels of A-10 experience. This is not to say that the young pilots struggled—they did not. However, our combat experience was enhanced and our risks minimized by having experienced pilots leading in the air, reviewing all aspects of our daily operations, and then guiding everything from the daily flying schedule to combat tactics.
    • Combat is team building and teamwork in its finest hour. Our flying-squadron organization worked in peace and war. It was one team, with one boss, going in one direction, and with everyone pulling his or her weight. There were no divisions, no competition, or conflicts between maintenance and operations.
    • Clear communication between the squadron, group, and headquarters is crucial to success. You know it’s a “bad day” when the CFACC invites you for a face-to-face talk because someone in your command has failed to “follow his published guidance.” Such a communications failure makes his job of commanding the air war more difficult.
    • Regular deployments working with allies facilitate future fighter operations in a coalition air campaign against a determined adversary. Knowing and trusting one’s allies before the shooting starts are imperative to the successful execution of an air campaign.
    • General Jumper’s principle of “tough love” saves time and trouble when things get difficult. He emphasizes establishing and communicating expectations and then holding everyone accountable to those standards. Any required action was fair, firm, and quick. I found nearly all of the 40th EOG ready to fight and win; those few that were not were sent packing.
    • There should never be an expectation that A-10s can fly 5,000-plus combat hours in a 360-degree threat without a loss. To have flown an entire air campaign without a combat loss is a miracle, unlikely to ever be repeated, and should never be an expectation of war planners, senior leaders, or politicians.
    • Pilots will forever resist political restrictions that defy the principles of war and air and space power doctrine. However, they will unhesitatingly follow those restrictions to the letter. These pilots deserve to have the rationale for the restrictions explained, particularly when lives are at stake. They also deserve to have those restrictions regularly reviewed for operational necessity.
    • The quality of our parent wing’s maintenance, effectiveness of its training, courage of its pilots, and superb quality of its leadership enabled the 52d AEW to fly more than 3,500 combat sorties for over 15,000 hours in F-117s, F-16CJs, and A-10s against a determined enemy and in a high-threat environment without any combat losses and with exceptional effectiveness. But this absence belies the high threat! The Serbs had a fully integrated, robust, and lethal air defense system and used it cunningly, firing over 700 missiles and millions of rounds of AAA.
    • Many people sacrificed much to support the air campaign. Our wing had over 1,200 of its 5,000 active duty personnel deployed for up to six months. The families left behind took care of our children, sent us care packages, and prayed for our safe return. I will never forget seeing all the yellow ribbons tied around trees at Spangdahlem AB when I came home.

    As everyone should know, freedom is never free—it puts at risk and may cost the lives of our soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen. There is no better air force in the world today than our United States Air Force; the hardworking, dedicated airmen of all ranks deployed all around the world make it great. Since we are back to our expeditionary roots—not off chasing some new idea—and doing what we have done well for most of our history, we must have an expeditionary mind-set. Finally, NATO’s tremendous value and the role it plays in this rapidly changing and dangerous world cannot be overstated. NATO proved false the prediction that it could not stay together until the end—and did so convincingly.

Redeployment, Beddown, and Maintenance
Maj Dave Brown

    All those maintainers assigned or attached to the 81st EFS during OAF put forth the necessary effort and were directly responsible for keeping the aircraft flying—24 hours a day for 78 consecutive days. Both obvious and not so obvious things went on behind the scenes during this conflict.
    To say we showed up, did our jobs, and went home would in many aspects be correct. However, that statement would not do justice to all the individuals who went the extra mile and gave their all every day. Their total commitment was demonstrated not only during the campaign but also during the months leading up to it. When the 81st FS left Spangdahlem in January 1999 for a 30-day rotation at Aviano to support Operation Joint Forge, our jets were already in good shape. Despite having to deal with serious parts shortages and an aging airframe, our maintainers did everything within their control to keep our A-10s fully mission capable and at the same time support an aggressive flying-training program. Our crew chiefs kept their deferred discrepancies—those identified, noncritical aircraft problems whose correction had been delayed to an appropriate time in the future—to a minimum. Our maintenance schedulers worked our phase flow at a healthy 220-hour average, and our time-change items were all in compliance, with nothing deferred or coming due in the near future.
    We usually looked forward to a trip to Aviano. This one was no different. It was to be a short 30 days in northern Italy supporting Bosnian overflights. Aviano was a “full up” air base with nearly all the comforts of home. Maintenance support was available, to include supplies and equipment. Aviano also had a base exchange, commissary, and eating establishments on and off base. As tensions began to heat up in the Balkans, we were extended for an additional 30 days, while political efforts attempted to resolve the crisis. As we got closer to the March deadline, we were extended indefinitely. We immediately added a couple of A-10s to our forces at Aviano, bringing our total to eight; by the time air operations commenced on 24 March, we were up to 15 Hogs on station—all ready for the fight.
    Aviano AB was crowded with over 150 airframes of various types on station. We had one hardened aircraft shelter that heldtwo A-10s—one CANN aircraft and usually one that was undergoing unscheduled maintenance due to an in-flight write-up. The other 13 Hogs were parked outside—up to three per hardstand. This created an additional workload for the maintainers by requiring additional tow jobs at the end of the scheduled flying period; it also necessitated some creative planning during launches. We continued to generate more and more sorties, as well as CSAR alert lines. Due to our 24-hour CSAR commitment, we did not enjoy the eight- to 10-hour down period to maintain our aircraft that many of the other units had. We usually flew our tasked sorties during the day and then assumed nighttime (airborne or ground) CSAR alert. Most other flying units had either a day mission or a night mission. Due to our capabilities, we had both. We would postflight our last sorties of the day and immediately start reconfiguring jets to cover the night CSAR alert tasking. This dual tasking presented many challenges and resulted in a full schedule—one that challenged our aircraft, aircrew, and maintenance resources every day.
    This pace continued for the next couple of weeks with our pilots flying long sorties—often exceeding seven hours. Aviano continued to receive and bed down additional fighter aircraft. By 7 April, it had over 170 aircraft on station and was looking for a place to park more F-16s. To help reduce our sortie length and make room for more aircraft at Aviano, the 81st looked for a new location further south that would be closer to the KEZ. We were tasked to send a senior maintainer on a site survey trip to several southern Italian air bases. CMSgt Ray Ide, our rep, evaluated three bases during a 12-hour trip on 6 April 1999. When he came back he said, “Gioia del Colle will work, but we need about a week to spin it up to minimum standards.” There were no munitions on base, no munitionsstorage or buildup area, no dedicated facilities for use by maintenance, and virtually no back-shop maintenance support in place. By the next day, rumors were rampant, and most folks anticipated relocation in about two weeks.
SrA Nick Kraska working on a jet (USAF Photo by TSgt Blake Borsic)
    Shortly after I arrived at work on Thursday, 8 April, I was tasked to visit Gioia del Colle for a more in-depth site survey. I was accompanied by some Sixteenth Air Force logistics reps. We arrived at our destination late that night and were ready to get busy the next morning. We had all day Friday to look at the base. From a maintenance perspective, I could tell instantly that we had our work cut out to make it suitable. We would be able to use only one of the hardened aircraft shelters for the entire maintenance package—which had now grown to 22 A-10s (18 from Spangdahlem and four from Pope). This increase also meant that additional personnel and equipment would be required. We went toe-to-toe with the Italian air force and were able to gain a second shelter. We would still be a little crowded, but we were definitely much better off with the additional shelter and would be able to set up our back-shop support in one shelter and run the flight-line maintenance-support section and mobility-readiness spares package in the other.
    Eventually we would add a small garage-type building that would house our nondestructive-inspection, wheel-and-tire, and repair-and-reclamation sections. This arrangement would be the extent of our shelter facilities for the duration of OAF. Since we were unable to get any more hangar space to work our CANN aircraft or to conduct any heavy maintenance, we would have to be creative with pallet bags and tarps to cover and protect areas of the CANN aircraft from the elements and debris.
    On Friday, 9 April, we not only learned that we would redeploy to Gioia del Colle, but also got the other “good news” that we would do it on Sunday—in two days. Our focus instantly changed from the site-survey mode to the advanced echelon (ADVON) mode, and we knew we were way behind the power curve. I now had a day and a half to prepare to receive 18 A-10s with more to follow shortly as the 74th FS Hogs made their way across the Atlantic from Pope to Gioia. To further complicate our planning, we learned that we would have to vacate Aviano on Saturday by 1200 due to a large local war demonstration expected to take place at the main gate that afternoon. Our list of “must haves” was instantly growing. We had located initial work areas, located billeting to accommodate 400 personnel as we stood up an expeditionary operations group, and worked a contract shuttle bus for the one-hour trip between our accommodations and the base. We wrapped up what we could on Friday and Saturday and then proceeded to pick up our ADVON team of aircraft maintainers on Saturday afternoon. Sunday was coming way too fast. We managed to sneak in a pretty decent meal at the hotel before hitting the sack early in preparation for the big day that lay ahead of us.
    Sunday the 11th went really well. We recovered (parked and performed postflight inspections) all 15 A-10s from Aviano and three more from Spangdahlem as scheduled. We were now waiting on the transportation system to catch up. Our relocation had not been without problems. Because our initial request for airlift had been denied, we had contracted for commercial trucks to supplement the assets the US Army Transportation Command had in Italy to move our equipment from Aviano to Gioia del Colle. We had nearly one-half of our equipment on the road by the time we convinced the decision makers that this approach would not get our sortie-generation equipment to us in time to meet the schedule for six CSAR alert lines that night, and our tasked sorties for the next day. We were finally allocated some C-130 airlift and were able to get a limited amount of key equipment to Gioia, but it remained far from an ideal situation. One of the redeployment’s most frustrating moments was the excitement of seeing our first C-130 on final, anticipating the delivery of our much-needed sortie-generation equipment, only to find that some of our materiel had been delayed to make room for a combat camera crew. The crew was there to cover our activity at Gioia del Colle as we began to regenerate our jets. Cameramen were absolutely our last priority since they weren’t among the things we needed to have on station to get our A-10s ready to fight—but I figured they would at least be able to take some nice pictures of our 18 static-display aircraft the next morning if the stuff they had displaced didn’t make it.
    The flow of equipment and tools from Aviano could not have been worse. We had gone into great detail in planning the order we needed to receive the equipment at Gioia del Colle, but since the operational methods varied among the numerous transportation contractors we used, some shipments unexpectedly took longer than others to make the trip. Some trucks had two drivers and did not stop en route. Others had only one driver who took two or more days to make the trip due to overnight stops for rest. It appeared that almost everything showed up in reverse order. The one movement we had control over was the equipment we used to get the jets out of Aviano. After the Panther launch, we loaded that equipment onto the C-130s, and it made it to Gioia shortly after the Hogs arrived. That limited C-130 airlift support probably saved our efforts and allowed us to meet Sixteenth Air Force’s aggressive timeline.
A-10s and crew chiefs at Gioia del Colle AB (USAF Photo)
    Keeping track of everyone was another redeployment challenge. We did not have a personnel accountability (PERSCO) team on hand to track the people who were showing up from Aviano and Spangdahlem. An Air Force PERSCO team would normally complete all personnel actions required to support deployed commanders, such as reception processing, casualty reporting, sustainment actions, redeployment and accountability of Air Force personnel, and management of myriad other personnel-related programs. Without their help, we did everything we could to catch everyone on their way in, get a copy of their orders, and record some basic information that included their room assignments.
    The first three days at Gioia del Colle were absolutely the most difficult. Many of us had already put in a few very long days to get the jets from Aviano to Gioia. Those who had worked a lengthy shift to generate and launch the jets at Aviano jumped on the C-130 for a two-hour flight to Gioia and then went right to work to get our Hogs ready to meet the Monday frag. We did our best to ensure that our technicians stuck to a 12-hour schedule, but that didn’t always work out. It was easy to have people working over 24 hours with little more than a nap. We cut our maintenance crews back to the minimum necessary to prepare the aircraft to meet our CSAR alert for Sunday and get the first eight aircraft ready for Monday. We prepped six front lines and two spares to cover Monday and put everyone else on shift, letting them get some much-needed and well-deserved rest.
    Five A-10s and about 70 personnel from the 74th FS at Pope were headed our way. They had been holding at Spangdahlem until our redeployment fate was decided, and then held a few additional days to let us settle in. With all that was going on with our own redeployment, inheriting additional aircraft and personnel added to my list of things to do and worry about. Some unique maintenance issues had to be resolved as we molded aircraft and personnel from Pope and Spangdahlem into a deployed unit under the air and space expeditionary force (AEF) concept. We did what we had to do by the book and applied common sense as much as possible. We encouraged team integrity by letting the dedicated crew chiefs work their own jets, and we took the team approach to the rest of the maintenance workload. Once we got through the initial growing pains, things seemed to work well. Everyone shared the goals of generating safe and reliable aircraft to support NATO’s missions and of bringing all of our pilots home safely.
A1C David Hatch from the 23d Fighter Group, Pope AFB, and SrA Jeff Burns from the 81st FS, Spangdahlem AB, troubleshoot an IFF write-up (USAF Photo by TSgt Blake Borsic)
    We faced several other challenges in addition to a hectic redeployment with an almost impossible timeline. We were in a small town in southern Italy with none of the “conveniences” of home. We arrived on a weekend and were pretty much unable to work any support issues that involved the locals, such as portable toilets, bottled water, or any type of eating facility for our troops. The RAF and the Italian air force were gracious enough to allow us to use their facilities to cover our needs for the weekend, and that enabled most of our day shifters to get a good meal. We were able to scrounge up some “meals ready to eat” (MRE) for our night shifters, and a few of the other troops were able to go off base before their shift and find grocery stores or restaurants to meet their needs. Positive attitudes and a strong sense of mission were the keys to making the redeployment work.
Fully integrated—81st and 74th jets on the Gioia flight line (USAF Photo)
    We were not able to provide such basic needs as bathrooms, bottled water, and meals for the first three days—even so, I heard absolutely no complaints. For the most part, everyone was too busy and tired to worry about it, and I think just knowing the problem was being worked was enough for the majority. Everyone’s dedication was incredible. We had to order some people to leave work because we knew they had been there way over their 12-hour limit. Attitude was everything. I cannot say enough about the effort put forth by the maintainers—those on the flight line and those in support roles. Our liquid oxygen for the first day’s flying was courtesy of an innovative liquid-fuels specialist. Our equipment to fill the bottles was still en route. The specialist knew that Brindisi AB was just an hour or so down the road and he took all of our aircraft bottles and brought them back full. Had he not done so, our first flights on Monday would have not made it off the ground. It was this sort of dedication and creativity that kept us in the fight until our cargo caught up with us a few days later.
    Once our equipment was in place, we began to settle into a routine. Our hotel was a 75-minute drive away. Adding two-and-a-half hours of driving to a 12-hour shift wasn’t the route we wanted to take. Once we resolved some initial scheduling issues and adjusted the shuttle schedule, the bus system worked great. It was definitely the way to go.
    A typical day at Gioia was pretty fast paced. At the height of the air campaign, we were launching 16 aircraft on the first go and usually 14 on the afternoon go. We used a UHF/VHF-equipped Humvee as the production superintendent’s vehicle. This enabled us to talk to the pilots and “ops desk” to get aircraft status on the inbound so we could begin to line up the afternoon sorties and have technicians standing by to begin to work the inflight write-ups. We definitely had a full plate turning the aircraft from the first go to the second go.
Using a bike to get around the flight line at Gioia (USAF Photo by TSgt Blake Borsic)
    Our configuration was typically four Mk-82 low-drag bombs, two AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missiles, 30 mm combat mix ammunition, 14 2.75-inch rockets, two AIM-9 air-to-air missiles, chaff/flare, Pave Penny pod, and an ALQ-131 electronic countermeasures (ECM) pod. Obviously, our crew chiefs, weapons loaders, and system specialists were all busy. They worked in-flight write-ups, conducted aircraft postflight inspections, loaded munitions, and refueled—all of this had to come together in about two hours and 30 minutes. Our production superintendents orchestrated the activity on the line, and the troops hustled each and every day of the campaign to make it happen. Both the day and night crews did a remarkable job of keeping track of the frag, necessary configurations, and CSAR alert. We scrambled our CSAR-alert aircraft on the nights the F-117 and F-16 were shot down, and again on several other occasions. We took our CSAR-alert commitment very seriously, knowing that lives depended on it.
    We also had to watch each of our aircraft’s phase-inspection timeline. Each A-10 must undergo a phase inspection after 100 hours of flying time to discover and repair problems that might have been missed during normal preflight and postflight inspections. We flew about 75 total hours and accomplished one 100-hour phase inspection at Spangdahlem each day at the beginning of the conflict. As the demand for airborne CSAR alert, AFAC, and A-10 strike missions grew, we were soon flying over 100 hours each day. We knew this would quickly become a problem because we were “earning back” only 100 hours per day with our current flow of one aircraft through phase. We quickly elevated the options: we needed to cut back down to below 100 hours a day, perform contingency phase inspections, or bring in enough personnel and equipment from the combat air forces (CAF) to stand up a second A-10 phase dock at Spangdahlem. We chose the third option. Those who stayed behind at Spangdahlem to perform A-10 phase inspections were just as valuable to the effort as those of us who deployed. Without the hard work and long duty hours performing these vital inspections on our A-10s, we would not have been able to keep up with our NATO taskings. Again, it was truly a total team effort, both at home station and Gioia del Colle.
    Daily sustainability issues were initially challenging. We had no Air Force infrastructure to support us. Our spares packages were sparse, and any parts coming into country via premium transportation (Federal Express and DHL Worldwide Express) were subject to Italian customs inspectors. This worked well Monday through Friday, but we had no customs support over the weekend or on Italian holidays. This became frustrating when a part hit the airport on a Friday afternoon and we knew we wouldn’t see it before Monday afternoon when the delivery would be made. This was the single biggest issue that we were not able to resolve during the conflict. We learned to live with it but didn’t like it because it was often the one part we needed to return a jet to mission-capable status. We did get the luxury of a twice-weekly rotator flight back to Ramstein for ECM pod and precision measuring equipment laboratory (PMEL) support. We also used this flight to get parts and other needed items from home station, especially those short-notice items.
    Looking back, I can honestly say that the only reason we were able to maintain our hectic pace was the dedicated team effort by all involved. Although it was a “pilot’s war,” I was proud to witness the support of the Air Force ground team—flight-line backshop, munitions maintenance, supply, transportation, personnel, administrative, finance, contracting, and the list goes on. They were all there to provide support—and they did it well. Their behind-the-scenes efforts were key ingredients in the success of the A-10s supporting KEZ operations from Gioia.

Getting There from Here
Capt Kevin “Boo” Bullard

    My memory of how the 74th FS got involved in OAF is a little hazy, but I think it all started with a planned deployment for the 81st FS to Kuwait. The boys from Spangdahlem were supposed to go down to Al Jaber AB, Kuwait, for a standard desert rotation to participate in Operation Southern Watch, also known as OSW. They were scheduled to arrive in Kuwait around late March or early April 1999, but there was a glitch in the plan.
    By early March 1999, the 81st FS had been tasked to be on call for the situation that was brewing between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) and NATO over the disputed region of Kosovo. There was no way the squadron could be on call and still meet its OSW tasking, so reinforcements had to be brought in. This is the point in time when the 74th got involved.
    I guess I’ve heard about a million reasons why the 74th FS was chosen to participate in helping the Spang guys with their predicament, but I think it all had to do with geographical location and timing. Geographically, the A-10s at Pope were the closest to Germany, and it just made sense to me that we should be going. The 75th FS, our sister squadron at Pope, had just participated in an operational readiness inspection (ORI) for our wing at Moody AFB and had been on a pretty aggressive deployment schedule prior to the ORI. I don’t think our local leadership at Pope was willing to send the 75th guys after all their recent time on the road. That left us, the 74th Flying Tigers, to foot the bill.
    The plan, at least the way it was briefed to us, was for the 74th FS to fly six or eight jets over to Germany to be the “on call” guys for NATO. At this time, NATO was fairly sure that Milosevic would capitulate and comply with all its demands, just like he had done in the past when threatened with military intervention. After we arrived in Germany, the 81st would then move out to the desert for a vacation in exotic Southwest Asia. The 81st could meet its OSW obligation and we could provide immediate help for NATO if needed. This sounded like a logical solution. The hard part would be to decide who would stay home and who would go to Germany.
    The “list,” as it was affectionately called, contained all the names of the individuals chosen to participate in this pop-up deployment. It was not surprising that every pilot in our squadron wanted to go. We all had visions of flying at low altitude over the entire European continent without any concerns except where we would be eating that night. I was told very early in the process that I was on the list, and I knew it would be a tough thing to relay to my wife. I imagined what her response would be. I could already hear her saying, “You’re going where? For how long? Why?” I know the list changed several times, but my name remained. I waited until I knew for sure that I was going to Germany before I broke the news to my wife. During that time, things in Kosovo had taken a bad turn. The Serbs were not going to comply with NATO’s demands, and now there would be an armed response.
    Obviously, the Spang Hogs were not going to Kuwait with the current situation in eastern Europe, and their immediate priority was to support anything NATO needed. Well, the bombs started dropping on 24 March, and OAF started to take shape. We, the 74th FS, were now told that we would fly four jets over to Spangdahlem to be a “rear echelon” force. Our primary purpose would be to fly with the few pilots of the 81st who were not mission ready (MR) and upgrade them to combat status. This was not the most noble of missions when there was a war to be fought, but that is what we were ordered to do. Certainly they (whoever “they” may have been) would not let a group of fully trained, combat-ready Hog drivers sit around an empty squadron staring at each other across a mission-planning table, wondering what training profile they would fly the next da