Friday, May 22, 2009

A Young Man In The Middle East

This letter is from one of the young men in a sister church. For security reasons, I left out his name. REB

Greetings from Air Force Central Command (CENTAF) for Southwest Asia.

Despite the 110 degrees outside and the ravaging sandstorms, we run the show for the whole Middle East and the rest of the region.
I just wanted to send a quick update on what’s going on: I got in last week and the work started almost immediately. We had briefings and simulation exercises to get up to speed, and we had to relieve the Squadron from Italy so they could all go home. The rooms here are small but the base has a lot of resources; the commander has really transformed this base from an expeditionary/temporary base, to a fully functional/permanent air base.

The shift is very long, 13 hours, from 6AM to 7PM every day; everyone is always wiped out by the evening. Nevertheless, the day goes by quickly; there has been a lot to do and there will continue to be an abundance of tasks, initiatives, and tactical changes to many of our systems.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m working in a Surveillance/Command and Control position, which is like Air Traffic Control on steroids. Air traffic control deals with take-offs and landings, we deal with the tactical control of fighters, bombers, tankers, choppers, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and countless other weapons systems. Our mission is summed up in a local saying: “We put warheads on foreheads.”

This mission is critical; this mission is dangerous. For those of you who have read the news, you know that Iran just launched a Sajjil-2 ballistic missile. All media reports about the missile are true.

Without getting into too much detail, I can tell you that I was
actually on scope when the missile was fired. I cannot disclose any more information than that. We work side by side with the Army’s Patriot Missile system guys to defend against ballistic missile attacks on Middle East assets. The Iranian capabilities are there, and they have shown both the intent and the capability to attack Israel and Coalition assets overseas.

This is no joke; this is no vacation; this really is a war. It may not touch close to home, but just know that what happens here is real stuff. We receive Intel about troops in contact every day. The proximity to danger does not make one mission more important than another; my position be far from combat, but has no bearing on the importance, impact, and tactical necessity of this mission.

There are men under fire at all hours of the day, and my job
is to ensure that those men have the support they need form the air. If I don’t do my job, men die. It’s as simple as that. This war is more real than I could have imagined. Your prayers would
be greatly appreciated. I will try to send an update every month or so. I have to run. Take care, I love you all.

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