Home' Air Force News : March 17th 2011 Contents 5
March 17, 2011
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CPL Zenith King
AS THE sun rose over Al Minhad Air
Base, Crew Green prepared their AP-3C
for tasking over the Arabian Sea.
Crew Green was about to conduct an
airborne intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance operation to support the
Commander Combined Maritime Forces
as part of a coalition of fleet vessels and
aircraft that monitor the waters between
Pakistan and India.
Working in conjunction with HMAS
Stuart and other coalition maritime forc-
es, Detachment Commander SQNLDR
Colin Gray said anti-smuggling opera-
tions were paramount in the fight
against the funding that supports insur-
gent networks within the MEAO.
"A lot of the poppies and drugs to
come out of Afghanistan are smuggled
on ships through to Africa and then
beyond," SQNLDR Gray said.
"Our role in that area is to patrol the
shipping routes, find the drug smuggling
dhows (local boats) and report them.
"From there the coalition war ships
will come through and investigate the
Concurrently with the anti-drug
smuggling mission, Crew Green con-
ducted anti-piracy operations to main-
tain security along what has become
the main shipping route for merchant
vessels carrying one third of the worlds
oil supply through Australia's Area of
"Most of the piracy bases are in
Somalia, where they have traditionally
used small boats to raid larger ships, but
lately they have been pushing further
out into the Arabian Sea," SQNLDR
Gray said. "Eventually the larg-
er merchant ships started push-
ing further out into the ocean in
the hope of avoiding the pirates.
"As a result the pirates are
actually seizing some of the
larger merchant boats and using
those vessels as mother ships to
provide access to a greater per-
centage of the Indian Ocean."
The Orion teams are work-
ing in conjunction with HMAS
Stuart, the Royal Australian
Navy ship in theatre that coordinates
much of their maritime taskings.
"HMAS Stuart will use us as a tacti-
cal asset beyond the horizon where we
will look for any possible drug vessels
or pirated vessels," SQNLDR Gray said.
"We will search, detect, localise and
identify any hostile vessels; we will
photograph the vessel and report back to
"From there the warship will either
put up a helicopter or close up with the
vessel and launch a boarding party."
SQNLDR Gray said their missions
were generally a mix between over-
water and over-land operations.
"The over-land operations normally
take priority because we are supporting
our own troops and coalition troops in
Afghanistan," he said.
"Using systems on board we provide
them with data about what the insur-
gents are doing.
"It's a combination of intelligence
and surveillance gathering but we also
conduct some direct support operations
when ground troops are conducting
THE GREEN TEAM: Above, members of Crew
Green in front of the AP-3C they fly to conduct
land and sea operations in the MEAO. Over
water they will search, detect, localise and
identify hostile vessels and over land they
provide data to troops on the ground about what
hostile people are doing. Photos: CPL Zenith King
UNDER SURVEILLANCE: Left, a dhow, one
of the many thousands of vessels that ply the
busy waters of the Gulf region in the Middle
East, photographed by an AP-3C aircraft.
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