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JTACs enable aerial reaction force mission

Members of Able Platoon, 1st Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, and Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Rarang, 817th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron joint terminal attack controller, joke together after training Nov. 21, 2016 at Forward Operating Base Dahlke, Afghanistan. JTACs direct aircraft for use during close air support and offensive operations from a forward position. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Katherine Spessa)

Members of Able Platoon, 1st Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, and Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Rarang, 817th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron joint terminal attack controller, joke together after training Nov. 21, 2016 at Forward Operating Base Dahlke, Afghanistan. JTACs direct aircraft for use during close air support and offensive operations from a forward position. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Katherine Spessa)

Members of Able Platoon, 1st Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, and Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Rarang, 817th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron joint terminal attack controller, fly in a CH-47 Chinook after training Nov. 21, 2016 at Forward Operating Base Dahlke, Afghanistan. JTACs direct aircraft for use during close air support and offensive operations from a forward position. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Katherine Spessa)

Members of Able Platoon, 1st Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, and Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Rarang, 817th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron joint terminal attack controller, fly in a CH-47 Chinook after training Nov. 21, 2016 at Forward Operating Base Dahlke, Afghanistan. JTACs direct aircraft for use during close air support and offensive operations from a forward position. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Katherine Spessa)

Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Rarang, 817th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron joint terminal attack controller, fires an M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System during training at Forward Operating Base Dahlke, Afghanistan Nov. 21, 2016. JTACs are often assigned to sister service units to bridge the gap between air and ground assault operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Katherine Spessa)

Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Rarang, 817th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron joint terminal attack controller, fires an M110 Semi-Automatic Sniper System during training at Forward Operating Base Dahlke, Afghanistan Nov. 21, 2016. JTACs are often assigned to sister service units to bridge the gap between air and ground assault operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Katherine Spessa)

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Joint terminal air controllers belonging to the 817th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron out of Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, recently began a partnership with Task Force Fighting Eagle’s aerial reaction force to provide JTAC capabilities to their missions.

The aerial reaction force team at Bagram is often the first sent to a downed coalition aircraft to provide combat search and rescue of aircrew and secure sensitive items aboard the aircraft. The team is comprised of a single platoon on twenty-four hour alert to respond.

JTACs are the masters of air-to-ground integration,” said Army 1st Lt. Thomas McDowell, Able Platoon, 1st Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division platoon leader. “On these Fallen Angel incidents, a lot of assets are going to push toward the objective and it would be hard to manage. So the JTAC is going to be our main man to de-conflict fires, push assets where they need to be pushed.”
The ARF has crews responsible for extracting and evaluating casualties, assessing the aircraft to determine if it is recoverable and establishing security around the site.
“It’s a fairly complex environment,” said McDowell. “Having the JTAC there helps the other individuals focus on their mission set.”
In order to integrate the JTACs into the platoon and streamline interoperability between ground and air components during a response, they have begun training together, including weapons proficiency training held Nov. 21, 2016 at Forward Operating Base Dahlke, Afghanistan.
Coming out on missions like this and training events, it gives us the opportunity to be a part of the team,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Rarang, joint terminal air controller assigned to Task Force Fighting Eagle. “It’s an honor, being able to go into battle with them and bring home downed pilots and aircrew or other soldiers that need us.”