Fort Irwin, Calif. — The 238th Air Support Operations Squadron, Mississippi Air National Guard, is conducting close air support at the National Training Center during the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team’s rotation.
The Meridian, Mississippi, based 238th ASOS, has members with over thirteen years of experience in the Tactical Air Control Party field. The unit specializes in close air support and plays an important role in supporting the 155th ABCT.
During the rotation, they showcased what they can bring to the battlefield for the Mississippi Army National Guard.
Maj. Frank Monterrosa, the air liaison that coordinates with the 155th, said it lets the Army see what JTACs capabilities are, effects on the battlefield, and how the JTACs can help assist the ground commander.
The TACP consists of Joint Terminal Air Controllers, JTACs, who are called in for critical air support that help advance the 155th against opposing forces. JTACs coordinates air support missions with pilots and guide them during attacks to engage enemy targets.
The JTACs provide pilots and the commander on the ground with live updates of GPS coordinates and visual descriptions while observing the enemy.
They help shape the battlefield by hitting key targets, enemy defensive systems, command and control centers, artillery pieces and anything at the commander’s discretion, said Monterrosa.
The 238th ASOS also conducted live fire, close air support training at NTC following the two-week field exercise. The Airmen coordinated with F-16’s and F-18’s from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, to engage targets with Mark-82 high explosive bombs and 20 mm gun systems.
Staff Sgt. Jared Doyle and Staff Sgt. Ted Soto used the live fire to complete their qualifications and are now qualified JTACs. They are now able to call in close air support during real-world combat missions.
During the rotation the units are put to the test on skill levels and expertise in part to the realistic operational environment that the National Training Center brings.
“NTC lets you see where those holes are in your training plan and lets you see where your deficiencies are”, said Senior Master Sgt. Matthew Jackson. “It also shows you where your strengths are too, so you get an overall picture of where your unit stands.”