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By Staff Sgt. Joseph Morgan, 124th Fighter Wing
SAYLOR CREEK RANGE, Idaho – Special warfare tactical air control party Airmen with the 124th Fighter Wing’s Air Support Operations Squadron conducted combat proficiency training May 8-12 at Saylor Creek Air Force Range.
TACP members coordinate air support to defend allied forces. The next step in a TACP member’s training is becoming joint terminal air controller certified. JTAC training focuses on proficiency with various weapon systems, vehicles and battle tactics.
Capt. Luke Nelson, a TACP with the 124th ASOS, said this training focused on combative maneuvers to improve battlefield effectiveness.
“The fight doesn’t stop when the planes go away,” said Nelson. “When the jets are in the area, we’re talking to them. When they’re not, we cannot be deadweight. Anything we can do to improve lethality within any particular function of a unit is a win for everybody.”
ASOS members trained with the M240B machine gun and the MK19 grenade machine gun. Once familiar with the weapons, they focused on battlefield maneuverability, maintenance and recovery with vehicles, including storm search and rescue tactical vehicles, MRZR light tactical vehicles and motorcycles.
“Typically, we’re not deploying as a whole squadron of operators,” said Master Sgt. Justin Clark, a JTAC program coordinator assigned to the 124th ASOS. “More likely, we’re getting sent individually or in pairs to support another ground combatant force. Maintaining proficiency in all things combat-related allows us to fully support our host units.”
As the U.S. Air Force emphasizes multi-capable Airmen, degrading combat effectiveness isn’t an option, says Tech. Sgt. Matt Phillips, the exercise coordinator and TACP assigned to the 124th ASOS.
“Our job is inherently multi-capable,” said Phillips. “When the aircraft are down for maintenance, we have to be ready for combat. With this familiarization training, we’re enabling our members to be 100% a weapons system while they’re downrange.”
Between Idaho’s varied terrain and world-class military training ranges, exercising units can maintain proficiency and emulate combat scenarios in many environments.
“We can train in high desert and in the mountains, in every element,” said Nelson. “Whether we’re in deep snow or in the desert, our training will allow us to be sustainable, long term.”
With members operating around the globe, staying ready and proficient is paramount, says Phillips.
“We shouldn’t wait to train for anything,” said Phillips. “We don’t train for the next war with the people we think we’ll have. We train for it with the people we currently have.”
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