News: Air Force on the ground provide help from above
Story by Sgt. Nicholas Oposnow
GRAYLING, Mich.- Joint terminal attack controllers (JTACs) from the 148th Air Support Operations Squadron provided air support coordination for Michigan Army National Guard Soldiers conducting combined arms live fire exercises (CALFX) during Operation Northern Strike 2014.
Soldiers of C Troop, 1st Battalion, 126th Cavalry Regiment, Michigan Army National Guard, from Dowagiac, Michigan, conducted their CALFX using small arms, artillery, and air assets.
While the Army has joint fires observers (JFOs), who can identify and provide coordinates of hostile targets, “a JTAC understands more about airspace and what flies in it and what capabilities every aircraft has,” said Air Force Maj. Scott Grotbo, the tactical air control party specialist. In comparison to JFOs, JTACs are authorized to command aircraft from the ground.
“Operation Northern Strike is the first time I have been able to operate directly on a live fire operation, during training, with Air Force JTACs,” said 2nd Platoon, C Troop’s platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Steven C. Sparks. “In the future, I know if we can sustain that, keep that going, that would be awesome.”
“Northern Strike allows us to train the way we fight,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Trumble, a Michigan Air National Guard officer and the exercise director. “When we deploy to a combat theater, ground and air assets work closely together to accomplish their objectives.”