Military News

Thursday, June 18, 2015

JTACs show off unique capabilities during Saber Strike 15

by Staff Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales
U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Public Affairs


6/18/2015 - RIGA, Latvia  -- In the training areas and forests of the Baltics, a land force unit came under fire from an opposition force. They needed support and they could hear it flying above them. They all turn and look at the emblem on the shoulder of that one service member that is different from them -- a JTAC.

Joint terminal attack controllers from various units around the Air Force trained along side more than 14 nations and 6,000 service members participating in Saber Strike 15. They brought the "brrrp" of A-10 Thunderbolt II guns, thumps of B-52 Stratofortress bombs and supplies of C-130J Super Hercules to the training.

"(Saber Strike) is great experience, you get to learn different tactics and techniques and process (other nations) bring and how they employ different verbiage they use that we can possibly put in our bag of tricks that helps us be more effective controllers and get effects on the ground for the commander sooner," said Tech. Sgt. Todd Jensen, 116 Air Support Operations Squadron JTAC.

Airmen from the U.S. worked with British, Latvian and various other JTAC service members during Saber Strike. This not only gave the pilots a chance to hear other voices but also gave other nations the chance to hone and improve skills.

"We get to see how (other nations) do their controlling and we can try to adopt some of their methods to speed things up," said Lance Cpl. Paul Coleman, British Army JTAC.

Having a British accent come over the radio can be quite a surprise for pilots when they expect a Washington Air National guardsman but it is one of the ways Saber Strike 15 is building interoperability and building partnerships.

"Its important to show that we are supportive of each other so when a real life issue does come up we have the working experience put in place and connection have been made and it's easier to jump in and fight as a whole unit, a collective force, versus trying to piece different identities together on the fly," said Jensen.

During the exercise not only did the JTACs train together controlling aircraft but also embedded themselves with army units from various to provide ground commanders insight into what a JTAC can do for them, some of which had never trained with a JTAC.

"We bring an element of firepower from the air to the ground commander,"  said Coleman. "It gives the ground commander more firepower to fit in his barrel and something else to put into his plan."

Coleman was glad for the opportunity to train, not only with other nations but other units in from his military.

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