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Feature Stories

NEWS | Feb. 21, 2019

Army Ground Liaison Officer connects ground intent to air action

By Senior Airman Travis Beihl U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs

Communication between the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard is similar to trying to understand a different language because each service uses different lingo and acronyms in their daily operations.

The U.S. Air Forces Central Command hosts a specialized U.S. Army Central Soldier from the 4th Battlefield Coordination Detachment known as a Ground Liaison Officer. The GLO translates the ground units’ intent into action in the air. This translation between Army and Air Force is also known as green to blue, and is used to achieve the ground commander's mission objectives.

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Hartranft, 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron GLO, fills this key role within the mission at AFCENT.  His job is to translate green to blue and blue to green between ground commanders and the combined forces air component commander; integrating and synchronizing air and ground operations in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

“The 9th is a 24/7 operation that spans a 20-nation AOR,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Eric Lord, 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron commander. “We are launching sorties throughout the day and we will have flown hundreds of combat sorties before we head back home.”

Hartranft’s work schedule is based on supporting the squadron’s mission of Close Air Support and the only bomb squadron to touch both operation resolute support and Operation Inherent Resolve.

“My day to day is anything but predictable because I can be called in at any time of the day,” said Hartranft. “Prior to the mission I’m contacting the ground units down range to get the products I need to translate and hand them off to the pilots.”

Working that schedule daily can be daunting for almost anyone. However, Hartranft has had his fair share of deployments and unique schedules through his previous five deployments.

“I’ve been deployed three times to Iraq and two times to Afghanistan and was part of the initial push into Iraq,” said Hartranft. “It’s good to see it on this side of things. It’s nice to be a part of the pre-execution side and seeing it all put together.”

GLOs are deployed from the various BCDs across the globe, assisting selected operational functions as the senior liaison between army forward commander and the air component commander.

“The 4th BCD is responsible for supplying all GLOs within the CENTCOM AOR,” said U.S. Army Maj. Nathan Gunter, 4th BCD GLO manager forward. “We work with the 5th and 19th BCDs to ensure CAS squadrons have the support they need.”

That support takes a variety of forms.

“Hartranft will reach out, knowing what we plan to do and who we plan to support, gather that data and merge it with our unit so we are all on the same sheet of music,” said Lord.

Hartranft is also one of the few GLO’s who is deployed with the squadron to which he is assigned. Being deployed with his squadron brings a multitude of benefits for not only Hartranft, but also the pilots.

“We always have a GLO that works with the bomb squadron and in my four CENTCOM deployments, this is the first time the squadron assigned GLO was able to deploy with them,” said Lord. “I’ve been able to see the benefit of not only the work relationship but the personal relationship with the members of our bomb squadron. So in terms of my experience, this one has been the best because he really knows his squadron.”

Lord said Hartranft has touched every single sortie the 9th EBS has flown and they are a better joint team because of his expertise.

“Being attached to the 9th EBS has been phenomenal,” said Hartranft. “This is the best job I’ve ever had and I would do this for the rest of my life if I could.”