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Units join forces, put rounds on target

US Marine Corps News

By Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Denny, Marine Corps Bases Japan

W-174 RANGE, East China Sea -- Marines from Marine Attack Squadron 211, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265, along with 5th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, and sailors with Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 1 and Strike Fighter Squadron 102, combined forces for an exercise here March 1-4.

“This is a perfect example of the Navy and Marine Corps coming together as a team to meet goals and show compatibility,” said Capt. Brian Mead, the air officer for the exercise with 5th ANGLICO, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF.

The purpose of the exercise was to requalify joint terminal attack controllers in calling for, and guiding in fire during both day and night operations. It also allowed them to evaluate and maintain proficiency of JTAC and provide a close air support demonstration for officers with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.

Controllers must have six successful controls of fire every six months to ensure safety and compatibility with the pilots. Pilots are required to drop a certain amount of ordnance every six months to maintain their qualifications.

In order to complete a successful control, a JTAC must execute a “9-line” to the aircraft above. A 9-line consists of reading coordinates on the ground and controlling close air support.

The ground team arrives at least 24 hours in advance, sets up the equipment and acquires the proper coordinates of the target, said Cpl. Bryan L. Jackson, a field radio operator with 5th ANGLICO. Once 5th ANGLICO has everything in place, they send out call signs to the pilots in the area, informing them of their readiness. When the pilots are within range, the JTAC describes the ground weather conditions and targets to the pilot. When the aircraft is ready to fire, the JTAC initiates the laser and the pilot releases the ordnance.

The 9-line is the most crucial information communicated between the ground and the aircraft, describing the target, the coordinates of the target, and what is in close proximity to the target, whether it be friendly forces or non-combatants. If a 9-line is delivered incorrectly the target may be missed and lives may be lost, added Jackson.

“A high level of proficiency is required for the safe delivery of ordnance in close proximity to friendly forces,” said Mead.

The aircraft were dropping March 76 simulation bombs and Laser Guided Training Rounds. 5th ANGLICO was sighting targets during the day with a Pulse Laser Designation Range Fire Thermal Imagery Device. At night they fire an infrared laser ISLID 1000P and used a 17C night vision scope. The three devices are calibrated to send and receive the same readings and measurements.

“This is a good (tool to learn) especially for us. We are field artillery forward observers,” said 1st Lt. Konno Norisato, an artillery forward observer with 1st Airborne Brigade, Camp Narashino, JGSDF. “We don’t have similar training, and we can learn a lot from (the U.S. military).”

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