Military News

Friday, September 11, 2015

JTACs train at Poinsett

by Senior Airman Jensen Stidham
20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/8/2015 - SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- The 20th Operations Support Squadron Poinsett Electronic Combat Range hosted the U.S. Army Special Operations Command during joint terminal attack controller training in Wedgefield, South Carolina, Aug. 31 through Sept. 3.

The training was conducted by USASOC JTAC's with help from the 20th Fighter Wing to conduct close air support controls in a joint environment.

"It's very important to do training like this," said Sgt. 1st Class Peter Quarleno, 1st Special Forces Command, 3rd Special Forces Group JTAC.  "The more you get out and get on the radio and control aircraft, the more comfortable and better you get at it. When we are in a static training environment like this and not getting shot at it's a lot easier to get better at this job."

Poinsett was used as one of three strike locations for the training because of its ability to receive live munitions.

"It works here because we have an air-to-ground range just a few flying minutes from Shaw where local Air Force F-16s can drop and shoot inert ordnance, along with several observation points that the JTACs can use to conduct live type 1 and 2 controls," said Onelio Renedo, 20th OSS range operations officer. "The short distance to the range allows about 45 minutes of range time for the aircrews and controllers, making the most of the training time."

Due to the close proximity, the 55th Fighter Squadron was selected to participate in the exercise to fulfill training requirements.

"The 55th FS is being used because they are currently working on six weeks of close air support training," said Capt. Joseph Winglemire, 20th Fighter Wing ground liaison officer. "What I do for them is coordinate all of the JTACs and scenarios which I create based on real world locations, and then I brief all of the pilots participating in the exercise."

Along with training requirements, the JTACs called in both live and dry runs consisting of the GBU-12 and 20mm rounds from the F-16's M-61A1 cannon.

"Live training is when there are live aircraft flying on the range with live ordinance dropping from the aircraft," said Quarleno. "Dry runs are when live aircraft are flying over the range or military operating area but aren't dropping any live ordinances. Both live and dry procedures are pretty much the exact same for the JTACs and the pilots just without dropping anything."

Although JTACs make the decision where to drop an ordinance, nothing can be dropped without knowledge of the weather.

"Weather is involved in intelligence preparation for the battlefield," said 1st Lt. Derek Romanyk, 20th OSS wing weather officer. "I check the weather about ten minutes before the simulated attacks and let the JTACs know the surface winds and cloud decks which are the different layers of clouds in the sky. They use the weather data I give them to judge the predictions they make themselves."

Throughout the week, 151 successful close air support controls were made, providing the USASOC JTACs an opportunity to hone their skills controlling aircraft in preparation to protect our country in times of conflict.

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