Royal Air Force personnel recently spent time with the US 93d Air Ground Operations Wing at Moody Air Force Base in the United States.
The personnel were Joint Terminal Attack Controllers tasked with building stronger ties with the 93d AGOW ‘in hopes of future integration opportunities’.
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Francisco Corona, 93d AGOW NCO in charge of weapons and tactics said:
“All the missions overseas aren’t integrating just the U.S. Armed Forces, but also our NATO forces.
So all the NATO forces are trying to train with us. I’d rather integrate in (training) where we can make mistakes and learn from them instead of making mistakes in a deployed location.
As air-ground experts, we advise, assist and control for the ground commander to meet his intent, whether its kinetic effects, like bombs on targets, or getting smarter at cyberspace.
The bonus for them is they’d be integrating with different Army divisions because the 93d AGOW is spread over at least six Army divisions. They’d get that opportunity, where there’s not many divisions they work with over in the UK It’s the best of both worlds for both sides of the house because we’d get opportunities to work with NATO allied aircraft versus just US aircraft.”
Both the UK and US JTACs said they’re no stranger to operating in coalition settings while deployed.
“While I was a JTAC in Afghanistan, the vast majority of our aircraft were U.S. aircraft,” said Squadron Leader Neil Beeston, officer commanding Air Land Integration Cell. “It was great working with the U.S. Armed Forces, especially with the A-10s; it’s a fantastic aircraft. The troops on the ground knew that when you’ve got a pair of them above you, you’re in pretty safe hands.”
While both the U.K. JTACs and U.S. aircraft are skilled professionals, sometimes communication barriers exists between countries.
“The whole worldwide JTAC community has the same struggles,” said Flight Sergeant Simon Ballard, chief instructor from the ALIC. “Since we’re going to be working together, we need to practice together before we go do that in the real world.”
According to a press release:
“After the gathering, the UK forces returned to their leadership with proposals and plans to further integrate training scenarios, whether it be academic courses or mixing into each countries exercises to further synchronisation.”