Szczecin, Poland - From 20 July to 06 August, nine NATO Allies trained together in Estonia and Lithuania. Highly-specialised soldiers, so-called Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) from Estonia, Denmark, Germany, Lithuania, Norway, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the United States worked together with air crews from the Estonian Air Force, the British Royal Air Force as well as the Spanish Air Force. Soldiers from the NATO enhanced Forward Battlegroup Lithuania also participated.
High degree of training and professionalism
JTACs work together with fighter aircraft to support troops on the ground with precision aerial fire support. Joint Terminal Attack Controllers are the critical link between air forces in the sky and soldiers on the ground. They call in Close Air Support on enemy positions enabling ground forces continued movement to the objective. This capability requires a high degree of training and professionalism.
Highly trained ready forces – keystone for NATO's collective deterrence
The Exercise was another perfect opportunity for NATO Allies to further increase their interoperability and mutual understanding of tactics and procedures. Developing and maintaining highly trained ready forces that can integrate seamlessly is the keystone of NATO's collective deterrence and defence.
The Exercise was conducted in two locations, due to units needing to maintain readiness statuses aligned to their host nations. The Fixed Wing Close Air Support element was conducted in exercise ranges and airfields in Lithuania. The Rotary Wing CAS element was conducted in Estonia.
Training to an agreed standard
The Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) and aircrew practiced their Close Air Support tactics, techniques and procedures that they would utilise as part of a NATO operation in a congested and contested environment. The opportunity for JTACs to come together with NATO partners is enabled because they train to an agreed standard, which allows for multinational integration of aircrew, various aircraft and JTACs from across the countries that make up NATO. The JTACs were placed in demand scenarios where they utilised Close Air Support integrated for ground artillery to regain the tactical advantage over the enemy to continue and win the ground battle.
Improving integration within NATO Close Air Support community
The aim of Exercise was to maintain Currency for Host Nation JTAC, enhance relationships with Host Nation, Framework Nations and Partner Nation JTACS and improve integration within the NATO Close Air Support community for activity within the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence mission. Keep skills sharp is vital in the Close Air Support community as it will be the support that is needed when it is necessary.