81st FS plays critical role in NATO exercise
The 81st Fighter Squadron is participating in a Ramstein ROVER 2012 Sept. 5-22.
NAMEST AIR BASE, Czech Republic -- Capt. Bennet Merriman, 81st Fighter Squadron A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot, puts on his flight equipment before a close air support and forward air control training mission Sept. 10, during Ramstein Rover 2012 here. RARO 12 is a NATO partnership building exercise involving more than 16 nations. A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 81st FS are participating in the exercise to provide close air support to partnering nations and practice forward air control missions with their NATO allies in international security assistance force realistic scenarios. During this mission the 81st FS pilots supported German and Italian forward air controllers. Participating in exercises like RARO 12 ensures effective employment of airpower in support of alliance or coalition forces while mitigating risks to civilians in contingency operations.
2 photos: Capt. Bennet Merriman, 81st Fighter Squadron A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot, puts on his flight equipment before a close air support and forward air control training mission
Photo 1 of 2: NAMEST AIR BASE, Czech Republic -- Capt. Bennet Merriman, 81st Fighter Squadron A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot, puts on his flight equipment before a close air support and forward air control training mission Sept. 10, during Ramstein Rover 2012 here. RARO 12 is a NATO partnership building exercise involving more than 16 nations. A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 81st FS are participating in the exercise to provide close air support to partnering nations and practice forward air control missions with their NATO allies in international security assistance force realistic scenarios. During this mission the 81st FS pilots supported German and Italian forward air controllers. Participating in exercises like RARO 12 ensures effective employment of airpower in support of alliance or coalition forces while mitigating risks to civilians in contingency operations. Download full-resolution version
NAMEST AIR BASE, Czech Republic -- An Airman from the 81st Fighter Squadron looks on as an A-10 Thunderbolt II taxis down the runway before taking off for a close air support and forward air control training mission Sept. 10, during Ramstein Rover 2012 here. RARO 12 is a NATO partnership building exercise involving more than 16 nations. A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 81st FS are participating in the exercise to provide close air support to partnering nations and practice forward air control missions with their NATO allies in international security assistance force realistic scenarios. During this mission the 81st FS pilots supported German and Italian forward air controllers. Participating in exercises like RARO 12 ensures effective employment of airpower in support of alliance or coalition forces while mitigating risks to civilians in contingency operations.
2 photos: An Airman from the 81st Fighter Squadron looks on as an A-10 Thunderbolt II taxis down the runway before taking off for a close air support and forward air control training mission
Photo 2 of 2: NAMEST AIR BASE, Czech Republic -- An Airman from the 81st Fighter Squadron looks on as an A-10 Thunderbolt II taxis down the runway before taking off for a close air support and forward air control training mission Sept. 10, during Ramstein Rover 2012 here. RARO 12 is a NATO partnership building exercise involving more than 16 nations. A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 81st FS are participating in the exercise to provide close air support to partnering nations and practice forward air control missions with their NATO allies in international security assistance force realistic scenarios. During this mission the 81st FS pilots supported German and Italian forward air controllers. Participating in exercises like RARO 12 ensures effective employment of airpower in support of alliance or coalition forces while mitigating risks to civilians in contingency operations. Download full-resolution version
NAMEST AIR BASE, Czech Republic -- Capt. Bennet Merriman, 81st Fighter Squadron A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot, puts on his flight equipment before a close air support and forward air control training mission Sept. 10, during Ramstein Rover 2012 here. RARO 12 is a NATO partnership building exercise involving more than 16 nations. A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 81st FS are participating in the exercise to provide close air support to partnering nations and practice forward air control missions with their NATO allies in international security assistance force realistic scenarios. During this mission the 81st FS pilots supported German and Italian forward air controllers. Participating in exercises like RARO 12 ensures effective employment of airpower in support of alliance or coalition forces while mitigating risks to civilians in contingency operations.
NAMEST AIR BASE, Czech Republic -- An Airman from the 81st Fighter Squadron looks on as an A-10 Thunderbolt II taxis down the runway before taking off for a close air support and forward air control training mission Sept. 10, during Ramstein Rover 2012 here. RARO 12 is a NATO partnership building exercise involving more than 16 nations. A-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the 81st FS are participating in the exercise to provide close air support to partnering nations and practice forward air control missions with their NATO allies in international security assistance force realistic scenarios. During this mission the 81st FS pilots supported German and Italian forward air controllers. Participating in exercises like RARO 12 ensures effective employment of airpower in support of alliance or coalition forces while mitigating risks to civilians in contingency operations.

NAMEST AIR BASE, Czech Republic -- The 81st Fighter Squadron is participating in a Ramstein ROVER 2012 Sept. 5-22.

RARO 12 is a NATO exercise focusing on forward air control and close air support capabilities. Sixteen nations are participating in the exercise to include: Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

The purpose of the exercise is to establish standardization and interoperability for forward air control and close air support missions for nations that may work together in contingency operations. The 81 FS A-10 Thunderbolt IIs are flying throughout the exercise to provide close air support for various forward air control training missions.

"It's imperative we train with our NATO partners to establish common standards and terminology," Lt. Col. Clinton Eichelberger, 81st Fighter Squadron commander. "We all need to be very clear of what has to happen when putting weapons on the ground in close proximity to friendly forces. "

Because the A-10s often work with NATO partners in contingency operations, it's important for them to build partnerships and create standardized tactics, techniques and procedures in a training environment. This way, they can work together to execute combatant commander's missions seamlessly in contingency operations.

The A-10s role in close air support is critical to forward air control missions because the pilots work hand-in-hand with the air controllers on the ground to identify threats and targets while mitigating risks to civilians in contingency operations.

"The A-10 aircraft is a backbone to close air support operations within NATO," said German air force Col. Harry H. Schnell, RARO12 exercise director. "To have the A-10s on board gives me the opportunity to give the best flying asset available to train the guys on the ground. This pairing of the A-10s and the guys on the ground is what we may expect in-theater the most. "

The forward air controller is also a critical link to the A-10s close air support mission because they control where the weapons deploying from the aircraft go by telling the pilots where the targets are and determining a safe distance for them to launch their weapons.

"Without a forward air controllers and joint terminal attack controllers on the ground we wouldn't be able to do what we do," Eichelberger said. "A majority of the work we do is close air support and close air support would not exist without communication with the ground commander and that communication piece is the forward air controller or the joint terminal attack controller."

Air controllers must be able to execute coordinates for air support immediately because enemy forces can be established as threats without any given notice. Once the threat is established, air support has to be able to support the troops on the ground without firing at friendly forces or civilians.

The training at RARO12 helps both air controllers and pilots establish procedures and share techniques that will mitigate risks to non-targets.

"The greatest benefit of this exercise is to send JTAC and FAC teams to the theater and know that they are all working on the same foundation; using the same procedures, sharing knowledge of equipment and knowledge of what air assets are capable of," said Schnell.
 

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