News: Soldiers, airmen work together on Joint Air Attack Team
Story by Sgt. Kimberly Hackbarth
FORT IRWIN, Calif. – Insurgents had nowhere to hide as the sound of M777 155mm howitzer fire, OH-58D Kiowa Warriors and AV-8B Harrier IIs filled the skies above the National Training Center, here.
As 155mm artillery rounds rained down from the sky causing huge plumes of smoke, a 1,000-pound bomb fell, leaving behind a brown mushroom cloud of dust stretching back toward the sky from which it plummeted.
Soldiers of 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, worked alongside Airmen from 5th Air Support Operations Squadron during a Joint Air Attack Team mission to destroy a simulated insurgent training camp northwest of Forward Operating Base Seattle, June 11.
Forward observers with 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 4th SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div., worked side-by-side with Joint Terminal Air Controllers and Tactical Air Control Party specialists from 5th ASOS to identify targets before Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 12th Field Artillery Regiment, and the rest of the JAAT combined to destroy the ‘enemy base’.
As a JTAC, Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua Scott’s role was to bring together the whole air piece of the mission by making sure the scout weapons teams and the close air support aircraft knew their targets. He also verified the airspace was clear for them.
“Some of the benefits of using a Joint Air Attack Team is if you’ve got several targets that you’ve got to attack, and you’ve got multiple in your area, you can use the different attributes that they can bring to the fight,” the Fay, Okla., native explained.
While the explosions were massive and intense, the planning it took to bring the mission to life was even more intense for some of those involved, including Capt. Brad Craft, the fire support officer for 4th Bn., 9th Inf. Regt.
“It’s great training for me for planning an exercise (and) for the company fire support officers for execution,” said Craft, a Savannah, Ga., native. “In today’s fight, it’s a joint fight, so we’re bringing in all other branches of service … along with all other branches within the Army to work as one to combine all this combat power.”
Craft said he had only seen a similar mission once before, and it was not in training –- it was while he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010.
“Very rarely do you get all of these assets, and the space, the range, the training facilities to drop live ordnance… along with hellfire missiles and artillery at once,” said Craft. “This is a real-world mission that could possibly happen during our deployment to Afghanistan.”
Soldiers of 4th SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div. will continue to train during their monthlong rotation at NTC in preparation for the unit’s deployment to Afghanistan later this fall.