JTACs remain an indispensable part of force protection in combat situations
On Wednesday, 13 June, members of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) participating in the international military exercise Adriatic Strike 2012 proved to be highly competent, professional and reliable when it comes to providing field commanders with decision-making advice regarding the use of air and other fire support. By introducing its highly trained Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs), the SAF presented yet another novelty, considered an important value added in the increased force protection in combat situations.
In the Adriatic Strike 2012, the SAF verified own joint fire capabilities and knowledge used to achieve combat readiness of own forces.
The aim of the exercise organised by the Slovenian Armed Forces was to establish the basis for further cooperation with NATO nations in the field of joint fires, Joint Terminal Attack Controller training and operational standard setting that would enable the Adriatic Strike to become a regular annual regional event.
The exercise activities also aimed at upgrading the cooperation among the neighbouring countries in the field of air force training and Tactical Air Control Parties (TACP). For the first time, SAF JTACs had an opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge they had used in a number of international exercises abroad. The event provided the SAF with valuable experiences in the organisation of exercises, which are not only new in the SAF, but also in other developed armed forces. The participants acquired experiences in the cooperation with foreign JTACs and aircraft; acquainted themselves with new planning and JTAC techniques, but most of all, the SAF had an opportunity to demonstrate its high level of proficiency to other participating allied forces.
JTAC training was organised by the SAF Flight School in accordance with internationally adopted standards (NATO STANAG 3797 (Ed4) and ISAF SOP 31). The SAF participated in the Adriatic Strike exercise with PC-9M aircraft and used the exercise as the final part of the national SAF JTAC training.
The exercise included some 200 participants from various SAF units and 25 members of Croatian, Italian, Hungarian and U.S. air forces, supported by 15 fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, namely six Pilatus PC-9M aircraft and three Bell 206 helicopters of the SAF; two AMX aircraft of the Italian Air Force, two SAAB JAS 39 Gripen aircraft of the Hungarian Air Force and two F16 aircraft of U.S. Forces in Europe. Two aircraft at a time operated in the air.
Who is a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC)?
The basic JTAC mission is to provide commander in the field with an advice on the use of air and other types of fire support (sea, mortar, artillery). JTAC advises commander on the proper use of fire support and controls the operations once conducted. In Afghanistan, Slovenian JTACs support the contingent with continuous air support in the form of reconnaissance, convoy escorting and control of the surroundings of the base, where Slovenian troops are stationed. In this way, a comprehensive protection of own forces is provided.
JTACs receive training in the five-week Joint Terminal Attack Controllers Qualification Course in the U.S. Air Base Ramstein, Germany. During the course, the participants learn to guide the aircraft crew so that they drop combat cargo over the designated adversary’s target. So far, SAF members have participated in these trainings as well. The acquired knowledge and skills will enable them to perform similar JTAC training for their colleagues in Slovenia and thereby save up to 100,000 EUR in the military budget.