News>Cohesion key to joint ops during Mountain Peak
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Yorke Goddard, 20th Air Support Operations Squadron joint terminal attack controller, and Airman 1st Class Titus Baker, 20th ASOS radio operator, maintenance and driver, gathers coordinates to employ close air support during exercise Mountain Peak at Fort Drum, N.Y., July 25, 2012. During the exercise, Goddard and Baker worked with a U.S. Army platoon and were responsible for directing air assets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Douglas Ellis/Released)
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Yorke Goddard, 20th Air Support Operations Squadron joint terminal attack controller, and Airman 1st Class Titus Baker, 20th ASOS radio operator, maintenance and driver, prepares to call in an airstrike during exercise Mountain Peak at Fort Drum, N.Y., July 25, 2012. More than 10,000 Soldiers and Airmen worked together during Mountain Peak to prepare for future joint deployments. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Douglas Ellis/Released)
U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Yorke Goddard, 20th Air Support Operations Squadron joint terminal attack controller, writes coordinates during exercise Mountain Peak at Fort Drum, N.Y., July 25, 2012. When guiding aircraft, JTACs use the coordinates to provide an accurate location of targets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Douglas Ellis/Released)
An A-10C Thunderbolt II from the 107th Fighter Squadron at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., flies toward ground targets during exercise Mountain Peak at Fort Drum, N.Y., July 29, 2012. U.S. Air Force joint terminal attack controllers directed the aircraft toward ground targets during the exercise, which is held annually. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Douglas Ellis/Released)
by Airman 1st Class Douglas Ellis
23d Wing Public Affairs
8/10/2012 - FORT DRUM N.Y. -- The 20th Air Support Operations Squadron trained with the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y., during exercise Mountain Peak July 23 through Aug. 2 to improve joint operations downrange.
The purpose of Mountain Peak is to prepare U.S. Army soldiers and U.S. Air Force Airmen for future deployments together.
"We are attempting to replicate a combat environment where soldiers and leaders are able to execute the same duties that they would downrange," said U.S. Army Maj. Brian Ducote, 3rd Brigade Combat Team operations officer.
The 20th ASOS' primary role in the 10th Mountain Division is to advise them on all aspects of air operations on the battlefield. This exercise provided a chance for ASOS Airmen to practice their role in conjunction with the division's mission.
"We have the joint terminal attack controllers that are going to be out on the ground controlling the air, and de-conflicting all of the fire assets going through the air to include artillery, mortars and [remotely piloted aircraft]," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Zachary Wood, 20th Air Support Operations Squadron commander.
The squadron is also responsible for providing air support to the 10th Mountain Division during battlefield operations to assist with their scheme of maneuver.
"We provide close air support for the Army in situations where they require more than just their organic assets," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jeremiah Osborne, 20th ASOS JTAC.
The squadron utilizes their battlefield Airmen to perform different tasks when assisting the Army. JTACs, air liaison officers, and radio operator, maintenance and drivers, or ROMADs, are all part of a TACP unit.
ALOs serve as administrators and act as advisors to Army commanders on the capabilities and limitations of close air support. They regularly perform their duties on the front lines, and Mountain Peak helped prepare them for future deployments.
"We serve as a liaison between the Air Force and the Army with all things close air support related," said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Luke Fekete, 20th ASOS air liaison officer.
Before a TACP member becomes a JTAC, they begin on the job training as a ROMAD. They often work with JTACs to get hands-on experience on the roles and responsibilities of a JTAC.
"A ROMAD is the apprentice of a JTAC," said Fekete. "They set up radios, drive trucks and help with ranging a target."
During Mountain Peak, JTACs participated in training scenarios with a platoon of soldiers. Their job was to coordinate with the platoon commander and employ air assets when needed during a combat situation.
"Our role in this particular training scenario is to work with their joint fire observers," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Yorke Goddard, 20th ASOS JTAC. "They are the guys that are going to give us targeting information if we are not physically out with the Army unit."
Many of the JFOs were given the opportunity to communicate with aircraft and practice guiding them to a target during the exercise. Working with the JFOs gave a boost of confidence to Osborne.
"It is a confidence boost on both parts," said Osborne. "It builds their confidence in talking with aircraft and it builds our confidence in their ability to talk an aircraft onto a target so that we can work more cohesively."
Both the Army and the Air Force gained valuable knowledge on how to work together downrange. The training gave Airmen from the 20th ASOS more experience on how to improve tactics while deployed with the Army.
"By training like we fight, we can exercise the systems and processes that we are going to use downrange with them in order to provide the best support for them, and our job is to make sure no friendlies die," said Wood.