Atlantic Strike V begins in Avon Park

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Amanda Savannah
  • U.S. Central Command Air Forces public affairs
More than 400 joint servicemembers began participating in Atlantic Strike V, a U.S. Central Command Air Forces pre-deployment training event April 14 at the Avon Park Air Ground Training Complex in Avon Park, Fla.

The semi-annual training through April 20 and prepares joint air and ground forces for maximum battlefield effectiveness through realistic urban close-air support and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance training.

"The objective of Atlantic Strike is to integrate Remotely Operated Video Enhancement Receiver, or ROVER, information into Air Force joint terminal attack controller and Army joint fires observer team operations using ISR and full motion video," said Maj. Raymond Brennan, the Atlantic Strike V director. "These operations execute tactics, techniques and procedures for close-air support, cordon and search, counter sniper, counter ambush and counter improvised explosive device operations."

Atlantic Strike includes all four services and coalition forces in its training. However, this will be the first time the Navy E-2 Hawkeye and Canadian air force joint terminal attack controllers will participate.

The Navy E-2 unit VAW-124 from Norfolk, Va., is in the process of adopting new roles in Operation Iraqi Freedom to include convoy support operations. In response, the unit requested to participate in Atlantic Strike V in order to prepare for upcoming deployments, said Major Brennan.

Because the war on terrorism is a global effort, inviting Canadians to train at Atlantic Strike better prepares the coalition team for victory in combat, Major Brennan said.

Capt. Patrick Howell, the Canadian air force air liaison officer and team supervisor, looks forward to the JTAC-centric training. Several of the Canadian participants depart for the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility within three months.

"This specifically offers our JTACs predeployment training before they deploy to the AOR," he said. "The Canadian air force doesn't have JTAC-centric training of this magnitude. At Atlantic Strike, our deploying members will encounter realistic scenarios based on real events in the AOR."

During Atlantic Strike V's four operational days, two scenarios will take place on and above the military range, while two will take place on local roadways.

On the alternately dusty and swamp-like military range, Marine and Air Force JTACs are rotated into convoys three times a day with the Soldiers of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division from Fort Hood, Texas. Atlantic Strike planners work with JTACs returning from deployments to create these scenarios, integrating battlefield lessons learned, enemy tactics and new wartime experiences.

"One scenario on base includes an Army platoon with embedded JTACs opposing hostile forces," Major Brennan said. "Various pyrotechnic devices will create the 'fog of war.' The urban and convoy operations off base also give JTACs and JFOs a more fluid and dynamic environment for realistic scenarios."

Avon Park city leaders worked closely with Atlantic Strike training leaders to allow JTACs the opportunity to operate in a real urban environment without interfering with local traffic or the civilian population. During the scenario, JTACs will use the ROVER system to track simulated hostile vehicles and targets, exactly as they would in Iraq or Afghanistan.
"Our training activities will be transparent to most citizens," Major Brennan said. "Medium-altitude close-air-support aircraft will assist training convoys composed of civilian rental vehicles and Humvees carrying communications equipment."

Much of the training centers on new technologies used for precision targeting. Military aircraft equipped with video downlink targeting pods and Cessna aircraft simulating Unmanned Aerial Systems provide live full-motion video to the ROVER system on the ground. JTACs and Army JFOs will use ROVER to direct urban close-air support during cordon and search, counter sniper, counter ambush and counter improvised explosive device scenarios. In addition, laser rangefinders and target designators will be tested and evaluated on the range by battlefield Airmen.

Joint air assets participating in the training include F-16 Fighting Falcons, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, B-52 Stratofortress, E-8 Joint STARS, Navy F/A-18 Hornets, E-2 Hawkeyes, and P-3C Orions. Coalition observers include military members from the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands. 

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