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A veteran F-15E pilot with extensive experience providing close air support in Iraq and Afghanistan protested the often-heard charge that “the Air Force doesn’t care about CAS. I have to tell you, that is so untrue. We care about the mission,” he said. The pilot said that when he filled out his request for his aircraft assignment, he asked for the F-15 first and A-10 second, “because I wanted to do close air support … To say we don’t care hurts a bit,” he said in a Feb. 24 background briefing on CAS, which has become a heated subject with the Air Force’s effort to phase out the A-10s. The pilot noted there is a sign on the door of the air operations center at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, that all flight crews read when going out for a mission. It says: “The mission is support of the guy with a rifle,” he related. “Everything else is less important.” He added, “We knew why we were there.”  When they scrambled on a mission to support Americans on the ground, he said, all the ground support airmen came out to the jets “just in case we needed anything [and] to make sure we got out to make that mission, because they knew Americans needed our support.”