US, German JTACs perform CSAR training

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Two white SUVs swerved, skidded and bolted across gravel and dirt back-roads driving faster and faster to reach their ultimate destination, downed pilots.

Marines from 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company along with German Air Force joint terminal attack controllers careened along the dirt back-roads communicating with close-air support assets flying in the sky above to locate the downed aircrew.

Meanwhile, two GAF pilots waited silently on the side of a hill for the combat search and rescue team to find them.

"During this whole Mountain Roundup exercise, we've been partnering with the Germans and training as a combined unit aimed at the same objectives," said Marine Capt. Erich Lloyd, 1st ANGLICO forward air controller. "Training with our allies is a very important role for us because we are the liaison for coalition partners."

Once the aircrew was located, the SAR element moved in and the most dangerous part of their mission began--verifying the crew and extracting them to safety.

The SUVs screeched to a halt and immediately every door of each flew open and out poured ANGLICO Marines along with GAF JTACs.

A perfect circle began to widen and the coalition partners, the brothers-in-arms, move silently out, looking for the distressed and possibly injured aircrew. M-4 carbines and M249 squad automatic weapons scan the horizon, waiting for a chance to eliminate any threat stupid enough to get in their line of sight.

"Our objective was to link up with our German JTAC counterparts, establish communication with air assets, locate the aircrew and extract them ASAP," said Marine Capt. Chris Walker, 1st ANGLICO JTAC team seven leader. "The pilots were communicating with those aircraft and we needed to zero in on their location to extract them before the opposition force found them. The German JTACs utilized close-air support to eliminate OPFOR convoys and ground personnel who were closing on our position."

These Marines are among some of the hardest, most skilled professionals of the U.S. military, which is why they are chosen to work with the best of the best from other nations.

"Partnering with other units and countries really builds the liaison piece that ANGLICO is responsible for," said Walker. "This specific kind of training has proven extremely useful and enables us to flex our muscles with multiple teams and provide efficient combat security for aircrew."

With the aircrew secure, the teams fell back into their vehicles and began to exit as quickly as possible. However, more OPFOR arrived to the fight, therefore; more GAF AG-51 Tornado CAS were required, which the combined JTACs easily called in.

"Mountain Roundup has been a fantastic exercise for us and we have absolutely enjoyed working side-by-side with our GAF JTAC counterparts throughout the past few weeks," said Walker. "Their professionalism is evident immediately and of course calling in GAF Tornados is quite a unique opportunity. Both ranges have given us freedom of movement to devise unique training and readiness standards options for our Marines which just helps to keep us combat proficient.

All threats eliminated, the JTACs drove to the rally point and parted ways. However, the memories of international interoperability, teamwork and unity while training for combat will stay with them long into the cold, Idaho night.