CAS training prepares coalition forces for future operations

A joint terminal attack controller from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force observes the area below from an Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk during a flight over Arta, Djibouti, Feb. 4, 2015. The 24th MEU is embarked on the ships of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group and deployed to maintain regional security in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. A joint terminal attack controller from the 24th MEU’s MRF observes the area A joint terminal attack controller from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force observes the area below from an Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk during a flight over Arta, Djibouti, Feb. 4, 2015. The 24th MEU is embarked on the ships of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group and deployed to maintain regional security in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
Joint terminal attack controllers from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force and French 3rd Maine Artillery Regiment observe the exercise during a bilateral close air support training exercise in Arta, Djibouti, Feb. 4, 2015. The event was part of a scheduled bilateral CAS exercise between a contingent of MEU Marines and French soldiers and sailors. Joint terminal attack controllers from the 24th MEU's MRF and French 3rd MAR exercise Joint terminal attack controllers from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force and French 3rd Maine Artillery Regiment observe the exercise during a bilateral close air support training exercise in Arta, Djibouti, Feb. 4, 2015. The event was part of a scheduled bilateral CAS exercise between a contingent of MEU Marines and French soldiers and sailors.
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Adam Haley, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit joint terminal attack controller, observes a French Air Force Rafale M multi-role fighter aircraft flyby in during a training exercise in Arta, Djibouti, Feb. 4, 2015. The aircraft was part of a scheduled bilateral training exercise to prepare U.S. and French militaries for future joint operations. U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. observes a French Air Force Rafale M multi-role fighter aircraft flyby U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Adam Haley, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit joint terminal attack controller, observes a French Air Force Rafale M multi-role fighter aircraft flyby in during a training exercise in Arta, Djibouti, Feb. 4, 2015. The aircraft was part of a scheduled bilateral training exercise to prepare U.S. and French militaries for future joint operations.
Two U.S. Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawks from the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, line their sites on a target called in by U.S. and French joint terminal attack controllers during a bilateral close air support training exercise in Arta, Djibouti, Feb. 4, 2015. The event was part of a scheduled bilateral CAS exercise between a contingent of 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit Marines and French soldiers and sailors. Two U.S. Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawks from the 303rd ERS, line their sites on a target Two U.S. Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawks from the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, line their sites on a target called in by U.S. and French joint terminal attack controllers during a bilateral close air support training exercise in Arta, Djibouti, Feb. 4, 2015. The event was part of a scheduled bilateral CAS exercise between a contingent of 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit Marines and French soldiers and sailors.
A U.S. Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk from the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron prepares to take off after conducting a casualty evacuation drill during a bilateral training exercise in Arta, Djibouti, Feb. 4, 2015. The event was part of a scheduled bilateral close air support exercise between the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and French soldiers and sailors. A U.S. Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk from the 303rd ERS prepares to take off A U.S. Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk from the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron prepares to take off after conducting a casualty evacuation drill during a bilateral training exercise in Arta, Djibouti, Feb. 4, 2015. The event was part of a scheduled bilateral close air support exercise between the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and French soldiers and sailors.
A U.S. Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk assigned to the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, flies by a group of joint terminal attack controllers during a bilateral training exercise in Arta, Djibouti, Feb. 4, 2015. The event was part of a scheduled bilateral close air support exercise between the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and French soldiers and sailors. A U.S. Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk assigned to the 303rd ERS, flies by a group of joint terminal attack controllers A U.S. Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk assigned to the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, flies by a group of joint terminal attack controllers during a bilateral training exercise in Arta, Djibouti, Feb. 4, 2015. The event was part of a scheduled bilateral close air support exercise between the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and French soldiers and sailors.
French 3rd Maine Artillery Regiment members provide over watch during a bilateral close air support training exercise in Arta, Djibouti, Feb. 4, 2015. The event was part of a scheduled bilateral CAS exercise between a contingent of 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit Marines and French soldiers and sailors. French 3rd Maine Artillery Regiment members provide over watch French 3rd Maine Artillery Regiment members provide over watch during a bilateral close air support training exercise in Arta, Djibouti, Feb. 4, 2015. The event was part of a scheduled bilateral CAS exercise between a contingent of 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit Marines and French soldiers and sailors.
Joint terminal attack controllers from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force and French 3rd Maine Artillery Regiment provide over watch during a bilateral close air support training exercise in Arta, Djibouti, Feb. 4, 2015. The event was part of a scheduled bilateral CAS exercise between a contingent of MEU Marines and French soldiers and sailors. JTA controllers from the 24th MEU’s MRF and French 3rd MAR provide over watch Joint terminal attack controllers from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force and French 3rd Maine Artillery Regiment provide over watch during a bilateral close air support training exercise in Arta, Djibouti, Feb. 4, 2015. The event was part of a scheduled bilateral CAS exercise between a contingent of MEU Marines and French soldiers and sailors.
24th Marine Expeditionary Unit Joint Terminal Attack Control members read coordinates during a bilateral close air support training exercise in Arta, Djibouti, Feb. 4, 2015. The JTAC members work closely to communicate the best use of air power to provide CAS during military operations. The 24th MEU is embarked on the ships of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group and deployed to maintain regional security in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. 24th MEU JTA Control members read coordinates 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit Joint Terminal Attack Control members read coordinates during a bilateral close air support training exercise in Arta, Djibouti, Feb. 4, 2015. The JTAC members work closely to communicate the best use of air power to provide CAS during military operations. The 24th MEU is embarked on the ships of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group and deployed to maintain regional security in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

ARTA, Djibouti - French and U.S. coalition forces conducted live and simulated close air support exercise in Arta, Djibouti, Jan. 31-Feb. 4, 2015. 

The five-day event involved the U.S. 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the French 3rd Marine Artillery Regiment joint terminal attack controllers guiding U.S. Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawks and French Air Force Rafale-M multirole combat fighters to specified targets during the day and night CAS exercise.

"This is the first significant stop that we've made, conducting a live firing exercise in coordination with the U.S., preparing the French Naval Airway pilots for upcoming operations," said Lt. Cmdr. Ian Sloan, British Royal Navy exchange pilot to the French Naval Airway.

To increase partner nation interoperability, each exercise day was separated into three sections with two aircraft guided by both nations' JTACs, illustrating the different operating conditions they may encounter in future operations. 

These exercises introduced both military partners to integrating and refining work tactics for time-sensitive procedures. A JTAC instructor evaluated the teams in locating targets on different terrain and communication skills between one another.  This exercise ensured that all aerial munitions called in by coalition JTACs and delivered by both nations' aircraft were on target and on time.

According to Sloan, it is easy to conduct training inside your comfort zone when you are doing it in a familiar environment.  However, working with coalition nations using different languages and procedures, in unfamiliar terrain, is when the real benefits come out of the training/exercise/event.

English was the designated language for both U.S. and French forces, their conduct of all CAS missions became successful by working through the language barriers and completing specific directions that are unique to each country.  Communication challenges included different military language being used over the radio from both nations and the available light.

"There were mostly similarities controlling the aircraft, especially procedural control," said U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Ashley McMillan, 24th MEU senior air director and Air Support Element officer-in-charge. "It can only be done one way. It's almost like having a universal language, the pilots knew what to expect from the JTAC and exactly what they had to do."

By the end of the exercise, both JTAC parties gained valuable experiences by working through friction points during the exercise, in turn helping strengthen relations and improving security amongst participating partner nations.

"It's always a benefit to train with our coalition partners, and any opportunity you get to do that is worth taking," said Sloan. "Even if you think you have learned all the lessons and you're on top of your game, there is always something to take away from the way other people do business."

The 24th MEU is currently embarked on the ships of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group and deployed to maintain regional security in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

Tags

Exercise Djibouti Training Coalition Forces Joint Terminal Attack Control (JTAC) 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

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