8th ASOS Trains with Slovenian TACPs
POSTOJNA, Slovenia -- Airmen from Aviano Air Base, Italy, partnered with members of the Slovenian army from Jan. 31 to Feb. 4, 2011 to conduct a NATO coalition combat capability training exercise at Pocek A-G Range in Postojna, Slovenia.
The exercise consisted of Close Air Support training between nine 8th Air Support Operations Squadron Airmen and Slovenian army joint terminal attacks controllers and tactical air control party operators, as well as Slovenian PC-9M aircraft.
"The objective of this training is to refine the techniques and procedures used in graduate-level close air support scenarios," said Tech. Sgt. Eduardo Ramos, JTAC with the 8th ASOS. "Our goal here is to train the Slovenian JTACs in our practices to better equip them for their upcoming deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom."
During the weeklong exercise, a PC-9M scattered the mountainside with live ordnance to provide realism to the training scenarios. Both the Aviano and Slovenian JTACs practiced common tactics, techniques and procedures used in CAS missions. "Equipment, planes, bombs, and JTACS all add to the realism of the training," Sergeant Ramos said.
According to Slovenian army Sgt. 1st Class Sergej Savov, 1st Brigade TACP leader, building the JTAC capability is not only important because it saves lives downrange, but it also fosters partnership with the U.S. in the future.
"These training events are very useful for us," Sergeant Savov said. "We are starting to build the TACP capability for the Slovenian armed forces for all the missions and deployments we have. Since this is new for our army, we are striving for expertise. The best thing is to rely on those who are actually leading this activity in the war. It's great for us to train with USAFE, and since it's close to Aviano, it's easy for 8th ASOS to provide us with instructors, teach us, and mentor us on how to perform our tasks."
One of the tasks the Slovenian TACP operators and PC-9M pilots learned during the exercise was how to conduct night missions. This marked the first time the Slovenian army accomplished night operations using actual aircraft. The Slovenian army also received training on calling in live airstrikes.
In addition, the training provided Aviano Airmen with the unique ability to execute live CAS training missions using live ordnance close to home station. To maintain currency, U.S. JTACs must conduct at least one live CAS mission every six months.
Both U.S. and Slovenian participants agreed that conducting this type of training also highlights the partnership between U.S. and coalition forces. Col. Jean Vite, 4th Air Support Operations Group commander, coined three of Slovenia's first-ever JTACs in recognition of their hard work.
One of the recognized JTACs, Slovenian army Staff Sgt. Rudolf Rot said the exercise was very beneficial for both sides.
"They are coming here to help us get knowledge, assist in teaching us, and also learning from our experiences," said Sergeant Rot, a TACP operator. "They are very motivated Airmen, very helpful and friendly and we are looking forward to long-term cooperation."
Sergeant Ramos said that, even though the main objective for this live fire training was to solidify coalition capabilities, the training helped set the stage for U.S. and Slovenian partnership in today's fight and real-world situations in the future.
"The partnership we've been working over the past few years to strengthen (capabilities) is coming to fruition in the form of realistic CAS training, opportunities to attend multinational specialized courses, and unifying the TACP concept capable of supporting any contingency operation worldwide," said Sergeant Ramos.