JTAC Airmen train with Juvats
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Juvat pilots from the 80th Fighter Squadron trained with joint terminal air controllers from the 607th Air Support Operations Group, Camp Red Cloud, Seoul, Republic of Korea, as part of Exercise Woody Cloud 16-1 Dec. 1 – 4.
Exercise Woody Cloud 16-1 was the first-ever exercise that allowed pilots and JTAC Airmen to train side by side at Kunsan Air Base.
“Coming down here gives us an opportunity to see what it’s like from a pilot’s perspective to train for close air support scenarios,” said 1st Lt. Austin Hairfield, 604th Air Support Operations Squadron tactical air control party officer in charge.
Scenarios the Airmen participated in involved close air support and counterinsurgency.
“We simulated scenarios of events we’ve experienced during time spent in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Capt. Rolf Tellefsen, 80th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot and chief of weapons and tactics. “We’re trying to get a mix of everything in order to maintain some of those skillsets that guys don’t execute very often. I think it’s good from both sides just to exercise some of those skillsets that may atrophy over time.”
The face to face interaction between the pilots and the controllers offered a unique training advantage.
“The biggest takeaway for us coming down here in the integration is the pre-brief, mission execution and debrief, which we don’t usually get with the pilots. It’s usually over the telephone or radio,” said Staff Sgt. Stephen Stein, 604th ASOS JTAC.
Integrating with the pilots alleviates the stress of having to worry about a disconnect in communication due to both the 80th FS and the 604th ASOS being geographically separated.
“Being multiple hours away, we may not always have the opportunity to do a face to face debrief,” said Senior Airman William Irwin, 604th ASOS JTAC. “It’s nice to be able to actually sit down and discuss weapons and tactics. That creates huge advantages for our training.”
Overall, JTACs and 80th FS pilots alike plan to conduct the training exercise again next year.
“I think the training that we’ve gotten from this exercise added an incredible amount of value to the way we execute our mission,” Tellefsen said. “It allows us to craft up scenarios where both pilots and JTACS can provide more input than they normally would be able to. Rather than just checking boxes, we’re able to develop scenarios with specific desired learning objectives.”
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