Soldiers from the German Army’s 6th Battery of the Artillery Battalion 345 joined forces with A-10 Thunderbolt II pilots assigned to the 124th Fighter Wing’s 190th Fighter Squadron Feb. 11 to 22, to conduct close air support training at Saylor Creek Range, Idaho.
“The 190th Fighter Squadron supports and encourages this training so we are prepared and familiar with our NATO counterpart’s tactics, techniques, and procedures,” said Lt. Col. Mike “Jack” Hampton, 190th Fighter Squadron commander. “The training also enables us to establish lasting relationships that we can rely on during times of war.”
The visiting soldiers from Idar-Oberstein, Germany, consisted of joint terminal attack controllers, who coordinate, integrate and direct the actions of combat aircraft engaging in close air support operations, and joint fire observers, who augment JTACs by relaying target data. The unit has trained in Idaho annually since 2016.
“The 190th accepts us here, dedicates training to us and improves our tactical training,” said a JTAC instructor from the German Army. “They honor our unit, and I am very proud in the trust that they set in us.”
The joint training between the Idaho Air National Guard and German forces incorporated NATO TTPs utilizing A-10 aircraft to prosecute targets ranging from armor, artillery, bunkers, revetments, aircraft, simulated enemy combatants, moving targets, surface to air threats and more.
“All of these target sets are incorporated into one training range, which delivers unmatched training compared to anywhere else in the world,” said Hampton. “Each training mission is complex and detailed to mirror any future conflicts in or around the European Theater but can also be used in any region of the world.”
Located approximately 43 miles southeast of Gowen Field, Saylor Creek Range offers an impact area three miles wide by six miles long, where air and ground assets can employ live munitions. A joint fires platoon sergeant with the German Army said the training site is unlike anything they have in Germany.
“In Germany, our soldiers never get into realistic situations like they do in Idaho because of training restrictions,” said the platoon sergeant. “Here you can be 500 meters away while a 2,000-pound bomb is flying off the jet. It helps our soldiers to see live munitions hit their targets because then they know what they say to pilots really matters.”
On the range, the German soldiers rehearsed various training scenarios to refine their procedures while both forces worked to hone their joint communication.
Later this year, members of the 124th Fighter Wing will deploy to Germany in support of Air Defender 2023.