U.S., Czech Republic train in close air support operations

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A Czech Republic air force joint terminal attack controller calls in coordinates for close air support to nearby patrolling U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft assigned to the 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron during a theater security package deployment at Namest Air Base, Czech Republic, April 14. The U.S. Air Force’s forward presence in Europe allows cooperation among NATO allies and partners to develop and improve ready air forces capable of maintaining regional security. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Ruano)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany  — Four U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft forward deployed to Namest Air Base, Czech Republic, April 8, 2015, as part of a theater security package in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

“The Czech Republic air force invited us to come out here to train with their JTACs for a week,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Ben Rudolphi, 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron director of operations.

A Joint Terminal Attack Controller or JTAC is a qualified military member who can communicate with and direct aircraft from the ground in a variety of scenarios such as to provide close air support.

“This is a great opportunity within the confines of the area of responsibility to come out and reassure these folks that we are not only here for Germany or England, places that we normally go, but for the outer reaching areas as well,” Rudolphi said.

The Czech Republic air force JTACs operated in multiple locations throughout the week to make each training exercise unique to its area.

“I got the opportunity to go out to the observation post with the JTACs and observe how they perform CAS – to see how they nominate targets and how we go in and attack those targets,” Rudolphi said.

The U.S. Air Force’s forward presence in Europe allows cooperation among NATO allies and partners to develop and improve ready air forces capable of maintaining regional security.

“The big piece is to let everyone know that just because the air force and the military in general is shifting around to other regions of the world that we still believe in NATO, it is a very strong partnership and we’re committed to it,” Rudolphi said.

A U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft assigned to the 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron flies during a theater security package deployment to Namest Air Base, Czech Republic, April 14. This TSP represents America’s forward presence, postured alongside European allies and partners ensuring security, protecting global interests, and bolstering economic bonds.