The Iraqi forward air controllers (IFAC) have successfully completed the first coalition live-fire exercise for the IFAC course.

The exercise was carried out by the US Central Command’s Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, together with the Coalition Aviation Advisory and Training Team.

Conducted with an aim to improve the combat capabilities of Iraq, the live-fire exercise allowed the newly trained forward air controllers of the country to become certified.

It also demonstrated the significant advancement made by the controllers since the beginning of their training, which commenced in December.

370th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group commander US Air Force (USAF) colonel James Howard said: “The coordination that occurred during planning sessions leading up to the live-fire events and the actual execution of the mission signals positive commitment to building a capable and professional Iraqi security force to integrate and control airborne strike assets.

“This builds legitimacy into the Iraqi programme and fosters enduring relationships among partners in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.”

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“This builds legitimacy into the Iraqi programme and fosters enduring relationships among partners in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.”

The coalition live-fire exercise was supported by the US Army’s 449th Combat Aviation Brigade and was conducted using an AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopter in order to carry out close air support and close combat attack training with IFAC students.

Coordinated by Task Group Taji, the IFAC course is taught by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps personnel, who are supported by the US Air Force (USAF) tactical air control party joint terminal attack controllers.

USAF Central Command commander airforce lieutenant general Jeffrey Harrigian said: “Throughout the fight to liberate Iraq, the ability to effectively call in air support was a critical enabler as Iraqi ground forces advanced against the enemy.

“Our efforts to help them hone this and other vital skills will pay dividends down the road as they take the lead in safeguarding their country from threats.”

In December, a similar live-fire exercise was conducted, during which the IFACs practised calling in close air support from both fixed and rotary wing Iraqi air assets from their airforce and army aviation command.