2006 Superior Achievement Award

Presented to: Major Daniel A. Roesch

Citation: For his ingenuity and airmanship leading to an integrated situational picture of geographic hazards using Digital Terrain Elevation Data (DTED) and a combat mission involving Psychological Operations during Operation Enduring Freedom.


While deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom, Major Daniel A. Roesch developed a system that enabled the Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component Commander (CJSOACC) to assess and evaluate the battle space picture for MC-130H Combat Talon II missions. Using the Digital Terrain Elevation Data (DTED) program, Maj. Roesch created a database highlighting the extreme hazards faced by aircrews as they ingress and egress the drop and landing zones in Afghanistan. Initially, his database contained over 20 drop zones and 15 landing zones. This visual information presented both an integrated situational picture and the geographic hazards associated with the battle space, thereby simplifying the decision-making process for the CJSOACC during mission assessment briefs and allowing it to quickly study the ingress and egress of the assault zones and direct any risk mitigation measures required to improve mission execution. Maj. Roesch's efforts became the CJSOACC standard and are now included with every decision brief. His database has since grown in size, making it the most comprehensive terrain database in the area of operations.

Maj. Roesch was heavily involved with combat operations for the low-level airdrop of 210,000 leaflets on seven Taliban strongholds. In an area with mountain ranges exceeding 14,000 feet, Maj. Roesch developed a plan to blanket these areas while minimizing the high altitude effect on aircraft performance. Despite aggressive defensive maneuvers to avoid the incoming fire during the last two drops, Maj. Roesch calmly directed the aircraft around mountainous terrain, released the remaining leaflets on target and navigated safely back to home station. To footnote the significance of this mission, psychological operations personnel later reported that numerous Taliban surrendered to friendly forces while holding the leaflets dropped by Maj. Roesch one week prior.

Maj. Roesch is an evaluator navigator and chief of standardization and evaluation assigned to the 15th Special Operations Squadron in Hurlburt Field, Florida. He graduated from of the University of New Hampshire where he majored in European history and holds a master's degree from the Troy State University in International Affairs.