US and German air forces conclude close air support exercise


The US and German air forces have concluded a close air support exercise at Camp Grayling, Michigan, as part of their efforts to fight against terrorism.

The four-day-long exercise involved members of the German Air Force’s Air Ground Operations Squadron (AGOS) and the US Air Force's (USAF) 19th Air Support Operations Squadron.

The exercise was aimed at enhancing coordination between Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) of Nato Allies' air forces.

German Air Force AGOS commander major Nader Samadi said: “Nobody really knows what JTAC is doing but everybody wants to have them.

"Nato forces send JTACs on-site to find out the best way to conduct surgical strikes where we have civilian collateral damage concerns."

“It’s really important because we don’t want civilian casualties, so Nato forces send JTACs on-site to find out the best way to conduct … surgical strikes where we have civilian collateral damage concerns. It’s really important that somebody is there to liaise between the boots on the ground and the air guys.

“That’s our job, being the liaison and bringing in the biggest weapons.”

Tactical Air Control Parties (TACP) involving JTACs conduct air-to-air dogfights between aircraft, which are far less common than air-to-ground strikes or ground-to-ground skirmishes.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) stated that the JTACs attached to ground units must be precise with their directions and clear on the radio to effectively put bombs on target.

TACP and JTAC convey the ground commander’s intentions to the pilots, therefore mitigating the potential for error.


Image: USAF airman 1st class Diante Cooper, a 19th Air Support Operations Squadron Tactical Air Control Party specialist, watches and communicates with an A-10C Thunderbolt II during a joint close air support exercise. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo by airman 1st class Daniel Snider.