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337th and 81st ACS conduct joint OCA mission in honor of women in the military

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Jymil Licorish

Members of the 60th Fighter Squadron embarked on a significant offensive counter-air training mission, orchestrated by the 337th and 81st Air Control Squadrons at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., March 29, 2024.

This mission emphasized the strategic importance of OCA strategies and served as a tribute to Women's History Month, with an all-female command and control team.  

“Offensive counter-air is a military strategy that aims to suppress or destroy the enemy’s air power,” said Staff Sgt. Abigail Sanchez, 337th ACS weapons director instructor. “The pilots are working to prosecute designated targets to achieve a desired objective that was determined prior to the mission. The battle managers will back them up by providing long range situation awareness of the battle space.” 

Successful execution of this training requires synchronization between the 81st Wetstone and 337th Doghouse units.  

“Wetstone and Doghouse are accomplishing the same job, but on opposite sides of the fight,” said Airman 1st Class Kaydence Ford-Goins, 81st ACS interface control technician. “Doghouse is controlling the blue side, meaning they are controlling the F-35s out of Eglin who are working to hone their skills. Wetstone is controlling the red side, which today are F-16s that are simulating adversary aircraft in order to provide the most realistic training possible for everyone participating.” 

The air control squadrons began the training with phone and mission crew briefs, which comprehensively cover mission details, weather conditions, and operational strategies to ensure effective coordination among all three units. 

During this preparation phase, ABMs must also face the challenges of controlling from shared airspaces along the northwest Florida region.  

“In these local airspaces, there are often many aircraft conducting different missions at the same time,” said Sanchez. “Our primary concern as battle managers is always the safety of the aircraft under our control, so Doghouse has added a crew member position called Area Monitor in order to alleviate some of the task saturation that comes with a busy airspace.” 

The C2 team hopes this initiative encourages female service members to embrace their pivotal role in the military. 

“It is important for us to highlight the critical role that women (both officers and enlisted) play in this career field and in the Air Force as a whole,” said Capt. Rebecca Pieszala, 337th assistant flight commander. “Conducting an all-female control team is not only a way for us to honor the sisters-in-arms who paved the way for us, but also an empowering way for us to celebrate where we are now. It gives us as female service members the opportunity to take a moment and recognize just how many women play a key part in our job.” 

As a result of the joint C2 team’s coordination, six pilots from the 60th FS enhanced their flying skills during the mission, alongside a flight lead undergoing OCA instructor upgrade certification.  

The collaborative efforts of the 60th FS, 337th ACS, and 81st ACS in executing this OCA training mission not only reinforces operational readiness through quality training but also serves as a poignant reminder of the invaluable contributions made by women in defending the nation's airspace.