HomeNewsArticle Display

Separated, not detached: 20th ATKS Airmen critical to mission

Airmen with the 20th Attack Squadron pose for a group photo in front of an MQ-9 Reaper, at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, June 17, 2019. The 20th ATKS is a geographically separated unit that falls under the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing and supports combatant commanders in operations abroad. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Parker J. McCauley)

Airmen with the 20th Attack Squadron pose for a group photo in front of an MQ-9 Reaper, at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, June 17, 2019. The 20th ATKS is a geographically separated unit that falls under the 432nd Wing and 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing and supports combatant commanders in operations abroad. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Parker J. McCauley)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. (AFNS) --

The 432nd Wing and 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing is based out of Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, however, its Airmen and their contributions to the MQ-9 Reaper mission are not bound to one installation. There are some operational squadrons that organizationally fall under the 432nd Wing but aren’t physically located on the same base.

The 20th Attack Squadron, a unit under the 25th Attack Group, is one of six U.S.-based units that are geographically separated from the 432nd Wing and 432nd AEW. Despite not being co-located with the majority of the combat squadrons, Airmen assigned to the 20th ATKS have proven to be invaluable to the mission.

“When it comes to supporting the warfighter, they generally don’t care who or where their people are from, as long as they’re providing close air support,” said 1st Lt. Brent, 20th ATKS pilot. “It can be challenging not having your boss in the same location as you, but overall, this career field is all about being geographically separated.”

Brent is referring to how MQ-9s are flown during overseas operations from a state-side ground control station, or cockpit, via satellite link.

Brent also mentioned that being geographically separated fostered a cohesive culture in the unit and has had tangible impact on recent successes.

“It’s a small unit, and you’re so tight knit,” said Airman 1st Class Jeanne, 20th ATKS sensor operator. “My flight has high standards for their sensors and pilots. We’re the best of the best, and we train to be that way.”

In 2018, the 20th ATKS was recognized for being the 432nd Wing’s most lethal squadron, having eliminated over 500 enemies with approximately 30 enemies being high-value targets.

“Here at the 20th, we’re very focused on making sure our crews maintain a high level of proficiency in order to execute the mission that we’re doing,” said Lt. Col. Clint, 20th ATKS director of operations.

Similar to most combat squadrons in the wing, Airmen in the 20th ATKS operate 24/7, 365 days a year. They do this while providing persistent dominant attack and reconnaissance with a heavy focus on close air support for ground troops.

Clint explained that the wing’s focus on empowering Airmen at the lowest level in the squadron allows them to continue to be a lethal asset on the battlefield.

Squadron leadership relies heavily on their flight chiefs and supervisors to continuously hone their Airmen’s skills through feedback and training.

“The biggest thing is how much we’ve improved our effectiveness, particularly with our mission and strikes, I think it is a huge accomplishment,” Clint said.

The 432nd Wing and 432nd AEW Airmen fly the Remotely Piloted Aircraft mission from other locations abroad--not just Creech. Although these units are not physically located with the 432nd Wing, the Airmen support the same mission and each squadron brings a direct impact to the fight, anytime, anywhere.

Engage

Facebook Twitter
A U.S. Air Force AC-130J Ghostrider taxis on a flightline as a French Air Force C-130 lands at Alpena Combat Readin… https://t.co/hNTIhvJYvD
Don't miss the @NHL, @LAKings vs @Avalanche playing at the @AF_Academy this Saturday at 6 P.M. MST. Good luck to bo… https://t.co/KF9WqHlqaS
Happy Valentine's Day! https://t.co/ITdKRQ8Pm8
The first senior enlisted advisor for the U.S. Space Force has been named. Roger A. Towberman, welcome to the team! https://t.co/R8Fr98q4Jn
RT @AFGlobalStrike: Feb. has been a busy month for AFGSC, with a Bomber Task Force mission to the Indo-Pacific Theater & last week's unarme…
RT @AF_Academy: ❄️ Check out this timelapse of the @NHL transforming Falcon Stadium from football to an outdoor ice arena primed for Saturd…
F-35A Lightning IIs from the 421st Fighter Squadron participate in their first Red Flag exercise, which is meant to… https://t.co/EBDkkcgTxB
69th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Airmen at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam inspect a B-52H Stratofortress engine be… https://t.co/dBd3mLRPrz
RT @NORADCommand: @USNorthernCmd and NORAD are charged with executing our #1 priority of the National Defense Strategy: Defending the homel…
RT @NORADCommand: Given our adversaries' efforts, it is clear that the Arctic is no longer a fortress wall, and our oceans are no longer pr…
.@ABCSharkTank, anyone? The Air Force Spark Tank announced its 2020 selectees. 6 Airmen were selected to present… https://t.co/AV1Ikd1CjS
RT @USAFCENT: AIR TRANSPORTATION | Check out 332nd AEW air transportation specialists unloading more than 40 pallets of cargo. These specia…
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: Frank Losonsky was one of the youngest of the Flying Tigers, a group of 311 young Americans who journeyed to Burma in…
RT @HQUSAFEAFAF: From forward-deployed munitions maintenance to soaring the skies w/ our @NATO partners, @Spangdahlem_AB F-16s and Amn are…
Airmen of the 409th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Response Force team members, conduct close quarters batt… https://t.co/VKYdK9Ij9U
Listen to Ep 4 of Blue Print Leadership Podcast with @cmsaf18 as he talks about leadership, lessons learned, and sh… https://t.co/r0uXTHtIH6
Kudos to those keeping #USAF healthy and battle-ready. #ReadyAF https://t.co/9Ft8T7k2SC
"I've fought in three wars, and three more wouldn't be too many to defend my country. I love America." - Gen. Danie… https://t.co/CaVM2Cv819