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    JTACS train during Northern Strike

    JTACS trained during Northern Strike

    Photo By Tech. Sgt. Jason Boyd | Staff Sgt. Noah Cossitt, joint terminal attack controllers, North Carolina Air...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Jason Boyd 

    Michigan National Guard

    GRAYLING, Mich. – Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) from Latvia, Illinois, North Carolina and other units that are a part of the state partnership program worked together to direct air strikes to simulate suppressing the enemy with pinpoint accuracy during Operation Northern Strike at Grayling Air Gunnery Range in August 2014.

    JTACs are an asset commanders have to assist in getting air support to the battlefield. Wherever there are troops on the battlefield, JTACs are sure to be close by.

    The mission of the JTAC is to coordinate close-air-support, aircraft guidance control to increase the capability of ground combat forces. They also are experts in artillery and in naval combat and attack helicopter capabilities; they use all combat assets to engage and destroy the enemy.

    “I control the chaos on the battlefield, most people look at everything going on they see a big mess, it is my job to manage all of that and ensure that everything falls into place,” Air Force Major Scott Grotbo, tactical air control party, 182nd Airlift Wing, Illinois Air National Guard.

    Becoming the one who is in control of the chaos is a long process and it is no easy task to complete, it takes dedication.

    Their training begins with basic radio maintenance and operation, then continues with land navigation and combat air support basics, followed by survival school, where they learn resistance, escape and evasion tactics.

    JTACs must be proficient in ground combat techniques, and their training goes beyond that of the Army infantry. JTACs serve as advisers to ground component commanders in planning and employing combat assets, and are the link between joint and combined forces.

    The JTAC position is a voluntary position, but there are some prerequisites that must be met before someone can enter the program.

    The prerequisites are a minimum of one year experience in designed operational capability tasked unit, basic airborne qualified or volunteer for parachutist duty, have a current class III flight physical, ability to complete a four-year controlled tour, be eligible for top secret clearance, financially stable, able to deploy within 18 hours, and exceed Air Force fitness standards.

    The training is physically, mentally and technically intense, as you'll have to be able to operate under any environmental condition alongside some of the military's most elite special operations teams.

    “It can take up to four years to complete JTAC training, there are many different steps that an airman has to go through to become certified,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Steven Salander, tactical air control party, 182nd Airlift Wing, Illinois National Guard.

    “I was already a platoon sergeant in an infantry unit when some of the guys I knew said I should come over and become a JTAC. It took me almost two years to complete all of my schools and master all the controls needed to get my certification as a JTAC,” said Janis Savickis, JTAC, Latvian Ground Forces.

    The training doesn’t ever seem to stop for a JTAC, there are certain requirements that must be met each year in order to remain certified. JTAC must complete a simulator every 90 days along with many other certifications every six months.

    “For the guard JTACs, meeting these qualifications each year is difficult as there are only so many days in the year. We use the time during training such as Operation Northern Strike to keep certifications up to date, said Grotbo.”

    JTACs have the ability to bring overwhelming firepower to the battlefield in the form of artillery and air strikes. It’s the years of training that it takes to get to that point that makes them a great asset for any commander on the battlefield.

    (For more information, contact Staff Sgt. Jason Boyd at 810-429-5616)



    Date Taken: 08.15.2014
    Date Posted: 08.15.2014 16:23
    Story ID: 139499
    Location: GRAYLING, MI, US 

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