435 AGOW JTACs train with Allies during Defender Europe 23 exercise Swift Response

  • Published
  • By Captain Lou Burton
  • 435 Air Ground Operation Wing

Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) from U.S. and Spain Air Force worked together during exercise Swift Response for Defender Europe 23 in Zaragoza, Spain on May 8-12, 2023.

The U.S. JTACs participating in the exercise were 435th Airmen from Det 1 2nd Air Support Operations Squadron and the 4th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron. The group coordinated with A-10s from the 442nd Fighter Wing to perform close air support (CAS).

The speed, range, and maneuverability of airpower allows CAS assets to attack targets that enable the ground scheme of maneuver. When conditions for air operations are possible, CAS can be conducted at any place and time, where friendly forces are in close proximity to enemy forces.

“Participating in this exercise showcases how JTACs can operate in a joint environment and conduct a joint forcible entry,” said U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt Justin Lacks, JTAC instructor from Det 1 2ASOS. “The work done on the ground by JTACs helps establish an overarching picture for making quick decisions.”

“We are deconflicting the location between targets and friendly forces to help the commander make battlefield decisions in a dynamic and changing environment,” said OR9 Chief Master Sgt. Oscar J. Ochoa, EADA JTAC instructor in the Spanish Air Force.

The exercise also offered valuable learning opportunities for both U.S. and Spanish forces to familiarize themselves with each other’s procedures and terminology.

“With everything going on in the world right now, you cannot understate how important it is to work with NATO Allies and partners,” said U.S. Air Force Lt Col Andrew Shebelut, Det 1 2 ASOS commander. “Working out TTPs [Tactics, Techniques and Procedures] and how we can integrate with other countries that speak a different language, makes everyone’s team better."

Additionally, Det 1 2 ASOS had two members embedded with Dutch forces in Greece who parachuted with their team.

“This links a front-line unit with U.S. Air Forces Europe, which helps build a ground picture in that country and increases interoperability,” said Shebelut.

Swift Response 23 is the first of three major exercises that make up the Dynamic Employment of Forces to Europe for NATO Deterrence and Enhanced Readiness 2023, also known as DEFENDER 23. The purpose of Swift Response is to ensure combat credible forces are ready and postured in theater to respond to any threats against NATO Allies and partners.