Exercise SERPENTEX 16; cleared hot

CORSICA, France -- U.S. Air Force Airmen, along with 11 additional NATO countries officially kicked off the French-led Exercise SERPENTEX 16 on the island of Corsica, France, March 7.

Approximately 215 U.S. Air Force Airmen, including joint terminal attack controllers from the 2nd Air Support Operations Squadron, from Vilseck, Germany, are participating in the annual exercise held at NATO's tactical training center and the French Air Force's Air Base 126, Solenzara.

The multinational exercise is focused on the training of U.S. and NATO aircrew and JTACs on the air and land integration mission, to include close air support, dynamic targeting, strike coordination and reconnaissance and live ordnance operations.

JTACs are considered qualified service members who direct the action of air and surface based fire at the tactical level. They are the Airmen on the ground with the authority to control and call in airstrikes on target.

"There are times like when we are deployed when we work with JTACs from other countries and sometimes we do things a little differently," said Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Rarang, 2nd ASOS JTAC. "This exercise is giving us the opportunity to build partnership capacity and know how to better work with our allies when we are in those situations."

Exercise SERPENTEX has occurred annually since 2008 and has contributed to the development of U.S. and NATO relations, capabilities, interoperability and multinational training between allies.

Other U.S. Air Force participants include three B-52 "Stratofortress" bombers from the 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. Other countries participating include France, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Spain and the United Kingdom.

"Exercises like SERPENTEX are exciting and extremely useful because we get to learn different countries' equipment and how they would control in a real-word scenario," said Senior Airman Gage Duvall, 2nd ASOS JTAC. "I know that we will be able to learn a few things from all the different JTACs and hopefully they will get to learn something from us."

The training exercise will continue through March 25 with a variety of training scenarios to increase the Air Force's ability to work side-by-side with its European allies and partners.