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113th ASOS TACP Airmen control night skies in exercise

Tactical air control party Airmen assigned to the 113th Air Support Operations Squadron of the 181st Intelligence Wing from the Indiana Air National Guard observe an aircraft during night close air support training at Atterbury Range at the Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind., Aug. 4, 2020. TACPs from the 113th ASOS provide joint terminal attack controller capabilities to air assets to execute military ground commanders’ intent.

Tactical air control party Airmen assigned to the 113th Air Support Operations Squadron of the 181st Intelligence Wing from the Indiana Air National Guard observe an aircraft during night close air support training at Atterbury Range at the Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Ind., Aug. 4, 2020. TACPs from the 113th ASOS provide joint terminal attack controller capabilities to air assets to execute military ground commanders’ intent.

CAMP ATTERBURY JOINT MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, Ind. – Tactical Air Control Party Airmen assigned to the 113th Air Support Operations Squadron from the 181st Intelligence Wing of the Indiana Air National Guard conducted night close air support training Aug. 4.

The TACP Airmen engaged in night CAS training to hone their tactical controlling expertise while also providing training for pilots to coordinate weapons delivery with joint terminal attack controllers.

“Most of what we do typically happens at night,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Karl Ackerman, a joint terminal attack controller with the 113th ASOS. “It’s important for our guys to stay proficient at operating at night and utilizing our equipment.”

The mission of the 113th ASOS is to advise military ground commanders on airpower tactics, establish command-and-control communications, and provide pilots with precision terminal attack capabilities. Since missions will occur at night, the 113th ASOS trains like it fights – under the cover of night – to serve as expert liaisons between ground forces and air assets.

Operating at night poses unique challenges for TACPs, and that requires night missions to maintain proficiency.

“You have to think about what’s involved with controlling at night,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kai Johnson, a JTAC with the 113th ASOS.

The complexities of night operations mean considering what equipment is needed, what tactical positions exist, and what information needs to be communicated to pilots.

“Sometimes at night pilots don’t have complete situational awareness, so we relay what’s happening on the ground to the air to get the ground commander’s intent accomplished,” said Ackerman.

As part of that night-time capability, the 113th ASOS, which is based out of Hulman Field Air National Guard Base, provides air-to-ground and JTAC subject matter experts to pilots for training and, ultimately, real-world mission execution.

Also, while this particular iteration of evening training involved control of an A-10 Thunderbolt II, the 113th ASOS is experienced with controlling a multitude of military aircraft. So, naturally, when asked about their controlling capabilities, the TACPs did not hesitate to emphasize the breadth of their experience.

“Anything that flies,” said Ackerman. “If it is in the air, then we can work with it.”

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