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AF praised for support in Afghanistan battle

Oct. 15, 2009 - 04:12PM   |   Last Updated: Oct. 15, 2009 - 04:12PM  |  
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Air Force warplanes released more than 30 bombs and flew numerous strafing runs in defense of two Army outposts, threatened by hundreds of Taliban on Oct. 3, the Air Force said in release Thursday.

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Air Force warplanes released more than 30 bombs and flew numerous strafing runs in defense of two Army outposts, threatened by hundreds of Taliban on Oct. 3, the Air Force said in release Thursday.

Eight U.S. soldiers and three Afghan troops died, but the losses could have been worse if not for the Air Force jets.

"There is no doubt that without the incredible air support we received, it would have been a much worse day," said Army Lt. Col. Robert Brown, 3-61 Cavalry commander from the 4th Infantry Division of Fort Carson, Colo. "Your ability to keep a steady flow of aircraft and ordnance on the enemy turned what could have been a terrible defeat into a hard fought victory."

Inside a steep northeast Afghanistan valley, hundreds of militants at several firing positions attacked combat outposts Keating and Fritsche.

Within minutes, Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles were on scene and engaging the enemy, according to Army 1st Lt. Cason Shrode, COP Keating's fires support officer.

"[W]e had so many different assets up in the air ... we had everything we needed." Shrode said.

The first F-15Es on the scene were helmed by Capt. Isaac Bell, pilot, and Capt. Gordon Olde, weapons systems officer, as well as Capt. Dave Nierenberg, pilot, and British Flight Lieutenant James Siwicki, a WSO. All aircrew were part of the 335th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron deployed from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.

Capt. Mike Polidor and 1st Lt. Aaron Dove arrived later over the battle zone and served as tactical air controllers airborne.

Along with coordinating the Strike Eagles, the two airmen guided B-1B Lancer bombers and Army attack helicopters.

"We coordinated and relayed many airstrikes with various aircraft," Dove said. "By the time we got home, we had been airborne for eight hours, strafed mountainous terrain in dangerous weather, and integrated more than 30 bombs on targets around Keating none of which caused any friendly injuries or fatalities or civilian casualties."

The defending Afghan soldiers and U.S. troops killed nearly 100 militants.

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