Banging Trons in The Stan


I just saw a short profile story from Navy PAO about VAQ-135, a Prowler squadron stationed aboard the USS Nimitz, and it got me thinking.

So the article is pretty vanilla...

"Our main focus of effort is to dominate the electromagnetic spectrum. That means we preserve it for coalition forces, and we deny its use to Afghan insurgents. If we can successfully do that, many times the ground commander may not need a bomb," said Lt. Cmdr. Blake Tornga, maintenance officer from VAQ-135.

The missions Prowlers fly directly support the July 2009 tactical directive issued by Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan.

What they mean by "tactical directive" is to limit collateral damage, so the PA who wrote the story is ham-handedly trying to highlight the Prowlers' efforts as limiting the "kinetic" side of the Naval aviation equation. That's all well and good, but of course -- as with anything in "print" involving this community -- there are no specifics in here. "Dominate the electromagnetic spectrum" has a lot of meanings, but what are they specifically for Afghanistan?

It's been a long time since I've been to Afghanistan, but back in 2004 the Prowlers were flying mostly communications intercept missions, though I got this second hand from ground pounders since when I asked if I could interview the Prowler drivers at Bagram the PAO said "what Prowlers," those ones on the tarmac there, I said..."I don't see any prowlers" he deadpanned without looking toward the runway (nuf said). Now, I wonder if that's all they're doing as well, or are there enough electronic detonators for IEDs that the Prowlers are jamming signals or throwing out electrons to detonate the roadside bombs before friendlies get there. From this quote, it seems like that might just be what they're doing...

"There are very few electronic attack platforms out there," said Tornga. "We are the only tactical electronic attack platform. Mountain valleys, small turns, staying tight with a convoy, that mission right now can only be done with the EA-6B."
So they're escorting convoys? And conducting electronic "attack." Now we'll start to see IEDs rigged with pressure plates and IR trips that are signal neutral.

And the best line by far:

"Some of the real-time feedback we get from the ground troops after a successful mission makes me realize why we need to be here, and it makes this deployment very, very meaningful."
Like "thanks for blowing up that freaking bomb before my MRAP got to it!"

(Gouge: NC)

-- Christian

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