"Every year, we try to bring to Ample Strike new scenarios implementing real-world tactical requirements during combat operations," emphasised Colonel Ales Capal, the director of the exercise. "The successful integration and deconfliction of air and ground forces is crucial in contemporary combat – and that is what we practice here," he added.
For my JTAC team it was a good learning experience and a welcome opportunity to demonstrate our skills in an Air-Land-Integration mission
Mixed composite air operations (COMAOs) are one example of the JTACs' role enabling mission success through coordinated effective firepower and mobility both in the air and on the ground.
A Czech Air Force Mi-24 attack helicopter firing a burst from its on-board cannon providing Close Air Support during the mission of NATO Joint Terminal Attack Controllers at Boletice Training Area. Photo courtesy Ample Strike 2020 Joint Media Information Centre.
During the first week of Ample Strike participants prepared and executed COMAOs at the Czech helicopter base in Namest nad Oslavou and at the Boletice military training area. The COMAO mission commander plays the key role in the process from planning to execution. He coordinates operations of aircraft crews, JTAC teams, ground commanders and other specialists. During planning the team determines the targets of an operation and the ammunitions required to engage it; they specify type and number of aircraft and ground forces, discuss rules of engagement and factor in other aspects such as weather, terrain, obstacles, enemy positions.
For the COMAO simulated during Ample Strike, L-159 light fighter aircraft escorted two Mi-171 helicopters during the deployment of ground forces to a staging area. These forces then deployed on foot to the target area obtaining up-to-date situational information from a Raven drone. Two Mi-24 attack helicopters were called in to provide Close Air Support and, subsequently, handed that mission over to L-159 fighters. During the engagement another helicopter was called in to execute a simulated casualty evacuation mission and the ground forces moved to a pick-up area to be extracted by transport helicopters.
A Joint Terminal Attack Controller at work talking on his radio coordinating Close Air Support for the supported ground force commanders. Photo courtesy Ample Strike 2020 Joint Media Information Centre.
"My JTAC team closely monitored and controlled all these individual steps," explained the mission commander, Czech Captain Stanislav V. "We successfully accomplished the mission and for my team it was a good learning experience and a welcome opportunity to demonstrate our skills in an Air-Land-Integration mission," he concluded.
The multinational JTAC exercise Ample Strike continues this week offering scenario-realistic training for the coordination and communication skills of JTACs in accordance with NATO standards.