Training with NATO allies promotes standardization

From left, U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Chris Donohue, Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) with the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS), and German armed forces JTAC 1st Lt. Marius Sokol prepare equipment for close air support training at the Warren Grove Bombing Range in Ocean County, N.J. on Feb. 25, 2016. German armed forces JTACs partnered with the 227th ASOS, from the New Jersey Air National Guard’s 177th Fighter Wing, for a five day combined training exercise which included an F-16 familiarization brief and training in the 227th's new $1.2 million Air National Guard Advanced JTAC Training System.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

From left, U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Chris Donohue, Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) with the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS), and German armed forces JTAC 1st Lt. Marius Sokol prepare equipment for close air support training at the Warren Grove Bombing Range in Ocean County, N.J. on Feb. 25, 2016. German armed forces JTACs partnered with the 227th ASOS, from the New Jersey Air National Guard’s 177th Fighter Wing, for a five day combined training exercise which included an F-16 familiarization brief and training in the 227th's new $1.2 million Air National Guard Advanced JTAC Training System. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

From left, German armed forces Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) 1st Lt. Marius Sokol, Capt. Sebastian Pflueger and 2d Lt. Michael Barthel, perform close air support training at the Warren Grove Bombing Range in Ocean County, N.J. on Feb. 25, 2016. The Germans partnered with JTACs from the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron, part of the New Jersey Air National Guard’s 177th Fighter Wing, for a five day combined training exercise which included an F-16 familiarization brief and training in the 227th's new $1.2 million Air National Guard Advanced JTAC Training System.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

From left, German armed forces Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) 1st Lt. Marius Sokol, Capt. Sebastian Pflueger and 2d Lt. Michael Barthel, perform close air support training at the Warren Grove Bombing Range in Ocean County, N.J. on Feb. 25, 2016. The Germans partnered with JTACs from the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron, part of the New Jersey Air National Guard’s 177th Fighter Wing, for a five day combined training exercise which included an F-16 familiarization brief and training in the 227th's new $1.2 million Air National Guard Advanced JTAC Training System. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

German armed forces 1st Lt. Marius Sokol, Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) from the 131st Artillery Battalion in Weiden, Germany, performs close air support training at the Warren Grove Bombing Range in Ocean County, N.J. on Feb. 25, 2016. German JTACs partnered with the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron, from the New Jersey Air National Guard’s 177th Fighter Wing, for a five day combined training exercise which included an F-16 familiarization brief and training in the 227th's new $1.2 million Air National Guard Advanced JTAC Training System.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

German armed forces 1st Lt. Marius Sokol, Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) from the 131st Artillery Battalion in Weiden, Germany, performs close air support training at the Warren Grove Bombing Range in Ocean County, N.J. on Feb. 25, 2016. German JTACs partnered with the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron, from the New Jersey Air National Guard’s 177th Fighter Wing, for a five day combined training exercise which included an F-16 familiarization brief and training in the 227th's new $1.2 million Air National Guard Advanced JTAC Training System. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Benjamin Robbins, right, F-16 fighter pilot with the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing, gives an F-16 Fighting Falcon familiarization brief to German armed forces joint terminal attack controllers (JTACs) participating in a five day combined training exercise with the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS) at the Atlantic City Air National Guard Base, N.J., on Feb. 26, 2016. The German JTACs, from the 5th unit of the 131st Artillery Battalion in Weiden and the 26th Airborne Regiment in Zweibr??cken, Germany, trained with JTACs from the 227th ASOS in close air support at Warren Grove Bombing Range in Ocean County, N.J. and trained in the 227th's state of the art Air National Guard Advanced JTAC Training System. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Benjamin Robbins, right, F-16 fighter pilot with the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing, gives an F-16 Fighting Falcon familiarization brief to German armed forces joint terminal attack controllers (JTACs) participating in a five day combined training exercise with the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS) at the Atlantic City Air National Guard Base, N.J., on Feb. 26, 2016. The German JTACs, from the 5th unit of the 131st Artillery Battalion in Weiden and the 26th Airborne Regiment in Zweibr??cken, Germany, trained with JTACs from the 227th ASOS in close air support at Warren Grove Bombing Range in Ocean County, N.J. and trained in the 227th's state of the art Air National Guard Advanced JTAC Training System. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Benjamin Robbins, left, fighter pilot with the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing, explains F-16C Fighting Falcon propulsion characteristics to German armed forces Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) participating in a five day combined training exercise with the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS) at the Atlantic City Air National Guard Base, N.J., on Feb. 26, 2016. The German JTACs, from the 5th unit of the 131st Artillery Battalion in Weiden and the 26th Airborne Regiment in Zweibrücken, Germany, trained with JTACs from the 227th ASOS in close air support at Warren Grove Bombing Range in Ocean County, N.J. and also trained in the 227th's state of the art simulator. Robbins is the commander of the Warren Grove Bombing Range. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Benjamin Robbins, left, fighter pilot with the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing, explains F-16C Fighting Falcon propulsion characteristics to German armed forces Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) participating in a five day combined training exercise with the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS) at the Atlantic City Air National Guard Base, N.J., on Feb. 26, 2016. The German JTACs, from the 5th unit of the 131st Artillery Battalion in Weiden and the 26th Airborne Regiment in Zweibrücken, Germany, trained with JTACs from the 227th ASOS in close air support at Warren Grove Bombing Range in Ocean County, N.J. and also trained in the 227th's state of the art simulator. Robbins is the commander of the Warren Grove Bombing Range. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

German armed forces 1st Lt. Tim Jantzen, Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) with the 131st Artillery Battalion in Weiden, Germany, aims a training weapon inside the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron's new Air National Guard Advanced JTAC Training System at the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. on Feb. 26, 2016. U.S. Air Force JTACs from the 227th hosted a five day combined training event which included close air support controlling at Warren Grove Bombing Range in Ocean County, N.J. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

German armed forces 1st Lt. Tim Jantzen, Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) with the 131st Artillery Battalion in Weiden, Germany, aims a training weapon inside the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron's new Air National Guard Advanced JTAC Training System at the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. on Feb. 26, 2016. U.S. Air Force JTACs from the 227th hosted a five day combined training event which included close air support controlling at Warren Grove Bombing Range in Ocean County, N.J. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

German armed forces Capt. Sebastian Pflueger, joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) with the 26th Airborne Regiment in Zweibr??cken, Germany, operates a range finder inside the Air National Guard Advanced JTAC Training System at the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. on Feb. 26, 2016. U.S. Air Force JTACs from the 227th hosted a five-day combined training event which included close air support controlling at Warren Grove Bombing Range in Ocean County, N.J. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

German armed forces Capt. Sebastian Pflueger, joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) with the 26th Airborne Regiment in Zweibr??cken, Germany, operates a range finder inside the Air National Guard Advanced JTAC Training System at the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. on Feb. 26, 2016. U.S. Air Force JTACs from the 227th hosted a five-day combined training event which included close air support controlling at Warren Grove Bombing Range in Ocean County, N.J. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

German armed forces 1st Lt. Tim Jantzen, Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) with the 131st Artillery Battalion in Weiden, Germany, calls in a nine line report in the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron's new Air National Guard Advanced JTAC Training System at the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. on Feb. 26, 2016. U.S. Air Force JTACs from the 227th hosted a five day combined training event which included close air support controlling at Warren Grove Bombing Range in Ocean County, N.J. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

German armed forces 1st Lt. Tim Jantzen, Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) with the 131st Artillery Battalion in Weiden, Germany, calls in a nine line report in the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron's new Air National Guard Advanced JTAC Training System at the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. on Feb. 26, 2016. U.S. Air Force JTACs from the 227th hosted a five day combined training event which included close air support controlling at Warren Grove Bombing Range in Ocean County, N.J. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

German armed forces Capt. Sebastian Pflueger, Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) with the 26th Airborne Regiment in Zweibrücken, Germany, trains in the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron's new $1.2 million Air National Guard Advanced JTAC Training System at the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard in Egg Harbor Township. N.J. on Feb. 26, 2016. U.S. Air Force JTACs from the 227th participated in the 5 day combined training which included close air support controlling at Warren Grove Bombing Range in Ocean County, N.J. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

German armed forces Capt. Sebastian Pflueger, Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) with the 26th Airborne Regiment in Zweibrücken, Germany, trains in the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron's new $1.2 million Air National Guard Advanced JTAC Training System at the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard in Egg Harbor Township. N.J. on Feb. 26, 2016. U.S. Air Force JTACs from the 227th participated in the 5 day combined training which included close air support controlling at Warren Grove Bombing Range in Ocean County, N.J. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

Harry Nieves, civilian contractor, sits at the console of the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron's (ASOS) new $1.2 million Air National Guard Advanced JTAC Training System at the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. on Feb. 26, 2016 during a training scenario for German armed forces JTACS training with the 227th.  Nieves operates and maintains the system, keeping it current with all updates and upgrades. Nieves is also a Joint Terminal Attack Controller and Staff Sgt. with the 227th ASOS. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)
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Harry Nieves, civilian contractor, sits at the console of the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron's (ASOS) new $1.2 million Air National Guard Advanced JTAC Training System at the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. on Feb. 26, 2016 during a training scenario for German armed forces JTACS training with the 227th. Nieves operates and maintains the system, keeping it current with all updates and upgrades. Nieves is also a Joint Terminal Attack Controller and Staff Sgt. with the 227th ASOS. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley/Released)

ATLANTIC CITY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.J. -- German armed forces Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) trained with JTACs from the 227th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS) at the Warren Grove Bombing Range and at the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard on Feb. 25, 2016.

The five day combined training event included familiarization briefs, hands-on Combat Air Support (CAS) controlling and simulations.

The differences in the way American JTACs train was readily seen by the Germans."

It's incredible that you have all of the JTACS pooled in one position, you have a fighter wing right next to it, and you have a simulator indoors, right around the corner. It's all nice and compact," said 2nd Lt. Michael Barthel, German JTAC from the 26th Airborne Regiment in Zweibrücken, Germany.

Fluent in English, the international language of aviation, the German JTACs appreciated being able to meet and brief with F-16 fighter pilots from the 177th FW prior to training.

"Training assets are more spread out over the country of Germany, which makes it more difficult to work on the Combat Air Support sequence from start to finish," said Barthel. "We know the pilots are going to show up at some point overhead of the training area, but actually meeting with them face to face is really hard because they'll be taking off somewhere in the north of Germany and we practice in the south. You might get a phone call....that's what amazes me."

The German JTACs are part of their country's army, including artillery and airborne units, unlike the U.S. JTACs, who are part of the U.S. Air Force.

Master Sgt. Johannes Pszolla, JTAC with the 131st Artillery Battalion in Weiden, Germany, is stationed at Grafenwoehr Training Area and also commented on the differences in training stating, "We often work with Apache Helicopters from Spangdahlem, sometimes A-10s, but the play time with the F-16 is not that much due to the transit time."

The American JTAC program has some similarities to the German army JTACs. U.S. JTACs supplement the Army ground commander with a Joint Fires Observer, an Army member who can do just about everything a JTAC can do, such as passing nine line reports and lazing targets, but doesn't have weapons release authority.

"Having our NATO allies here, and when we go to train with them, is really good because we want to standardize...we all want to be on the same page, because that breaks down those barriers that we used to have, where, even the Air Force and the Army on the U.S. side didn't talk to each other," said Lt. Col. Albert Danza, commander of the 227th ASOS. "Now we're speaking to German, Dutch and British JTACs on the ground and we have all different airframes from all over the world that you could be flying with so it's good that we standardize and get all on the same page."

The five day combined training exercise included an F-16 familiarization brief and training in the 227th's new $1.2 million Air National Guard Advanced JTAC Training System.

"It's pretty nice to use the simulator with our own night vision devices...there are huge possibilities," said armed forces JTAC 1st Lt. Tim Jantzen, with the 131st Artillery Battalion. "It seems pretty realistic....maybe they could add more grass or bushes in the distance, but it fulfills its purpose, absolutely. It was a great experience."

"The J in JTAC stands for Joint, so the thing we focus on is being able to speak Air Force to the Army guys and translate what the F-16 is saying to the Army ground commander," said Danza. "The JTAC can clear hot with final control authority, something we think we're best suited to do."