Pilot Soars to New Heights on Ground with Naval Special Warfare

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http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=29316

IRAQ (NNS) -- For the past five months, Lt. Brandon Scott, an instructor pilot with Strike Fighter Squadron (VF) 122 has been filling a different role as an individual augmentee (IA) helping Naval Special Warfare (NSW) operators in Iraq.

Currently, more than 20 percent of the personnel supporting NSW operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are individual augmentees, most of whom are drawn from other parts of the Navy and the Navy Reserve Force.
Scott is the forward air controller and air officer for his SEAL (Sea, Air, Land) Task Unit (TU).

“I plan, schedule and control all types of air support for the task unit, to include both logistical passenger movements and combat support,” he said.

Scott has coordinated more than 225 close air support sorties in support of SEAL operations and has scheduled and tracked more than 250 passenger movements in and out of the Iraqi theater of operations.

“Having an air officer that is Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) qualified has been a force multiplier,” said Scott’s Task Unit commander. “His qualifications as a pilot and ability to call for fires has increased our ability to find, fix and destroy anti-Iraqi forces (AIF).” (It is the general policy of Special Operations Command to identify special operations force personnel deployed to a combat area only by rank and duty position to protect the member’s identity.)

The TU has about a dozen IAs working in fields ranging from medical, law enforcement and physical security, Seabees and intelligence, the commander said.

“(IAs have) enhanced both readiness and increased our capabilities,” he added.

This is Scott’s first time as an IA. He said he did it because he felt he had something to contribute to the NSW mission. His determination and volunteer spirit did not come without sacrifice. Limited creature comforts, family separation and a sometimes hostile work environment are just a few of the adjustments he’s had to make.

The sacrifices are not without payoff. His family supports him in everything he’s doing and he’s been able to stay in good contact with them throughout the deployment. Scott has enjoyed the experience. He says the time he’s spent here, and the things he’s learned, will make him a better-rounded pilot.

“Given the chance, I’d do it again. I definitely think this experience will help me provide better air support for NSW and ground elements in the future, from the cockpit,” he said. “I will be better able to identify with their specific needs and find more effective ways to employ my aircraft.”

The TU commander stated his IAs have done an exceptional job and is thankful for Sailors like Scott -- the best and brightest from their fields -- who come into harm’s way to do the tough jobs.

For more news from around the fleet, visit www.navy.mil.
 
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