Crystal* is sharing what it is like to be deployed as an Air Battle Manager. We met way back before we were officially in the Air Force. We were cadets going through Field Training (officer boot camp between the summer of sophomore and junior year). Now we are both out of the military with families of our own.
Rank during deployment:
Current rank/current job if you have left the military:
Where did you deploy to?
Al Dhafra, United Arab Emirates
What was your job?
Air Battle Manager (ABM)
What was you or your team’s mission?
Provide support to operation enduring freedom
How did your team accomplish that mission? Did you have certain tasks you did or goals during the deployment?
Our job is to manage the Airspace: refueling, execute the Air Tasking Order, notify aircraft of changes in their taskings, ensure aircraft are not at co-altitudes, reassign aircraft if there are aircraft cancellations, notify the Combined Air Opperations Center of those changes… The list is endless. We are an airborne command and control center.
What do Air Battle Manager do?
The closest thing to it in civilian terms in an air traffic controller. We manage the battle space, but it extends way past just managing where each air craft is. ABMs ensure the primary day-to-day mission is executed. For air-to-air engagement, using either airborne or land-based radars, ABMs ensure combat aircraft find, identify, and destroy their targets by providing the pilots with a “big picture” that increases their situational awareness. ABMs can provide early warning for inbound enemy aircraft and direct friendly assets to intercept them.
What cultural differences do you remember between the country you went to and the United States?
Our job was on an aircraft (E-3 Sentry or E-8 JSTARS) and we didn’t get out into the community very much.
What landscape differences do you remember between the country you went to and the United States?
It was hot desert, flat, humid
Were there any particular foods that you ate while overseas that was different from the United States?
As I said before we didn’t get out into the community. We ate mostly American food in the Dining Facility.
What was the hardest thing you faced with the cultural difference in UAE?
We didn’t really leave the base except for a few times and we only visited touristy places so there wasn’t much of a difference I saw, besides the restrictions the Air Force implemented.
What challenges did you face?
Being away from family and friends, working long hours, and working night shift.
Did you have any regular frustrating situations or a frustrating situation you can share about?
The politics of deployments were bad.
What is the one thing you remember most from your deployment?
The comradery with my crew
What question do you get when people find out you deployed?
Where did you go? Were you ever shot at?
This Day 29 of 31 Days of Deployment Stories. If you missed a story you can go here to see all of them here. Yesterday I talked about my neighbors WWII Story, tomorrow I will talk about being a Weather Officer In Afghanistan. Don’t miss a post. Sign up for my weekly newsletter here.
*Name changed for privacy