Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Soldiers on the High Seas: Coordinating Ground Forces Aboard Abraham Lincoln
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Timothy D. Godbee, USS Abraham Lincoln Public Affairs
USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- Throughout the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln's (CVN 72) deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility, Army personnel will be embarked to help coordinate Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 air support for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).
These U.S. Army ground liaison officers (GLO), assigned to the 4th Battlefield Coordination Detachment (Det.), serve as communications links between soldiers and Marines on the ground in Afghanistan and the pilots of CVW 2.
GLOs use various networks such as the combined enterprise regional information exchange system and secret internet protocol router network phones to communicate with ground forces about planned missions and patrols. They also brief pilots prior to every sortie flown in support of OEF. Once the aircraft launch from the ship, the forces on the ground are in direct contact with the pilots in the air.
GLOs also help interpret jargon from the different branches of service and work to decipher it for other personnel.
"Different acronyms often mean different things for each service, and sometimes certain terms are used differently, too," said Sgt. 1st Class Richard Bishop. "We act almost as translators between the two when needed."
GLOs deploy for a year at a time and transfer from one carrier to the next whenever a different ship begins operations in support of OEF.
"We were on USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) before this, and we'll go to whatever ship relieves Lincoln afterward," said Army Capt. Asher Ballew. "GLOs have been known to be out to sea for up to 120 consecutive days, sometimes more, without a port call. We have to pack light and be ready to move when and where we're needed."
Ballew said working side by side with Sailors aboard a carrier is a rare but exciting experience.
"There's a statistic that only about .01 percent of soldiers will ever serve on a naval warship," Ballew said. "It's pretty cool to be part of such a small statistic."
Lincoln and embarked CVW 2 are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions as part of OEF.
Lincoln is the flagship for Carrier Strike Group 9, which also includes the guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (CG 71) and Destroyer Squadron 9, comprised of guided-missile destroyers USS Momsen (DDG 92) and USS Sterett (DDG 104).