U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant Nathan B. Smith was awarded the Bronze Star for distinguishing himself by meritorious achievement while engaged in operations in Afghanistan. Smith and his wife and children live in Pinehurst.
As a senior tactical air control party member for Train Advise Assist Command South, 817th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron, 405th Air Expeditionary Group, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, Smith served at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, from July 2019 to March 2020. During this period, in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and the Resolute Support mission, while continuously exposed to insider threats and seven indirect fire attacks, Smith led seven Joint Terminal Attack Controllers responsible for the employment of 112,000 pounds of ordnance resulting in 390 enemies killed in action while conducting close air support missions throughout a 47,000 square nautical mile area of operations in Kandahar Province.
In his combat leadership role, he acted as primary subject matter expert and liaison to the regional commanding general, enabling the 205th Corps Afghanistan National Army and Police to conduct 42 offensive operations restoring freedom of maneuver and credibility to partner forces. The combined effects the airpower team significantly contributed to posturing the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for a relatively peaceful election process by applying overwhelming pressuring on the Taliban during the most kinetic month on record in the last 10 years.
Additionally, Smith oversaw 28 Security Force Assistance Brigade Fly-to-Advise missions, reinforcing 545 vulnerable check points and providing security for the United States Forces Afghanistan Commanding General during critical battlefield circulation. Smith was hand-selected to conduct a site survey for Regional Targeting Team West. During the survey he determined critical infrastructure and aircraft control requirements, as well as assisted with strike cell layout, course of action planning, and mission development for the innovative combined special operations platform.
Smith was key to establishing the first operational Regional Targeting Team. His integration as the precision strike expert, coupled with the Advanced Operations Base and Afghanistan partnered force, resulted in 62 enemy killed in action in the first month of operations, validating the effectiveness of the Regional Targeting Team-South concept which was used as the model for four other regional nodes.
The exemplary leadership, personal endeavor, and devotion to duty displayed by Sergeant Smith in this responsible position reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.