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Two nations, one mission: US TACP, Thai CCT join forces

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Danny Aboy, tactical air control party joint terminal attack controller with the 116th Air Support Operations Squadron, Washington Air National Guard and Royal Thai air force Flying Officer Jirot Prasoetampaisakul, 2nd Company 3rd Battalion Special Operations combat control team member, observe as a simulated close air support attack is called in during COPE Tiger 19 at Chandy Range, Thailand, March 15, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Danny Aboy, tactical air control party joint terminal attack controller with the 116th Air Support Operations Squadron, Washington Air National Guard and Royal Thai air force Flying Officer Jirot Prasoetampaisakul, 2nd Company 3rd Battalion Special Operations combat control team member, observe as a simulated close air support attack is called in during COPE Tiger 19 at Chandy Range, Thailand, March 15, 2019. Two U.S. Air Force TACP/JTACs conducted a subject matter exchange with three Thai combat control team airmen during COPE Tiger 2019, a two-week multilateral field training exercise. COPE Tiger not only involved flying operations but also offers combat maneuver support opportunities for troops on the ground, utilizing airpower from the U.S. Air Force, Royal Thai air force, and Republic of Singapore air force on a simulated battlefield. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Tim Williams, tactical air control party joint terminal attack controller assigned to the 116th Air Support Operations Squadron, Washington Air National Guard, reviews tactics and procedures prior to calling in a simulated close air support attack during COPE Tiger 19 at Royal Thai Air Force Chandy Range, Thailand, March 15, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Tim Williams, tactical air control party joint terminal attack controller assigned to the 116th Air Support Operations Squadron, Washington Air National Guard, reviews tactics and procedures prior to calling in a simulated close air support attack during COPE Tiger 19 at Royal Thai Air Force Chandy Range, Thailand, March 15, 2019. Two U.S. Air Force TACP/JTACs conducted a subject matter exchange with three Thai combat control team airmen during COPE Tiger 2019, a two-week multilateral field training exercise. COPE Tiger not only involved flying operations but also offers combat maneuver support opportunities for troops on the ground, utilizing airpower from the U.S. Air Force, Royal Thai air force, and Republic of Singapore air force on a simulated battlefield. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

A COPE Tiger 19 patch is displayed on Royal Thai air force Flying Officer Jirot Prasoetampaisakul, 2nd Company 3rd Battalion Special Operations combat control team member, uniform during COPE Tiger 19 at Chandy Range, Thailand, March 15, 2019.

A COPE Tiger 19 patch is displayed on Royal Thai air force Flying Officer Jirot Prasoetampaisakul, 2nd Company 3rd Battalion Special Operations combat control team member, uniform during COPE Tiger 19 at Chandy Range, Thailand, March 15, 2019. U.S. Air Force tactical air control party joint terminal attack controllers from the 116th Air Support Operations Squadron, Washington Air National Guard, conducted a subject matter exchange with Thai combat control team airmen in support of COPE Tiger 2019, a two-week multilateral field training exercise. COPE Tiger not only involves flying operations but also offers combat maneuver support for troops on the ground, utilizing airpower from the U.S. Air Force, Royal Thai air force, and Republic of Singapore air force on a simulated battlefield. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melanie A. Hutto)

CHANDY RANGE, Thailand (AFNS) --

The U.S. tactical air control party Airmen lower tactical vests over their heads with practiced confidence, quietly relaying a composure born of constant training. They strap their helmets on and prepare for the first strike of the day.

This is where their “normal” duties end, though. The TACPs are not focused on honing their own skills today; they are here to train their multilateral partners as part of the Cope Tiger 2019 exercise.

The U.S. operators hand the reins over to three fully-geared Royal Thai Air Force combat control team members, letting them control the air strike.

“Thirty seconds,” Jirot Prasoetampaisakul, 2nd Company 3rd Battalion Special Operations CCT, Royal Thai Air Force flying officer announced over the radio.

With the incoming swooping scream of two Singaporean F-15 Eagles, the target is neutralized, and the mission is a success.

Most images emerging from Cope Tiger center around the flightline, but the subject matter exchange between the U.S. and Thai airmen demonstrates the diverse training available through multilateral exercises such as Cope Tiger.

The opportunity for the two TACPs from the 116th Air Support Operations Squadron from the Washington Air National Guard, to execute a close air support mission on an unfamiliar range and expand their response capabilities is valuable. The opportunity to mentor their Thai brothers in arms, utilizing airpower from the U.S., Thailand and Singapore on a simulated battlefield, however, is priceless.

“We are working closely with the Thai combat control team exchanging tactics, techniques, and procedures, or TTPs, in regards to close air support,” said Master Sgt. Danny Aboy, a 116th ASOS JTAC.

Aboy continued saying they are working hand-in-hand in refining the Thais' TTPs and assisting them in establishing an air-to-ground program, coined ground forward air controller similar to the U.S. Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controller program.

On this particular mission, the Airmen worked with their Thai military counterparts to direct Singaporean aircraft to enemy targets. Although there were no live munitions used throughout the mission, the ground controllers benefited from the simulated air strikes.

“We are practicing how we fight. The two-way communication that takes place between us and the pilots is essentially the exact same,” said Staff Sgt. Tim Williams, 116th ASOS JTAC. “The intent over the next ten years is for the Royal Thai Air Force to become signatories of the JTAC Memorandum of Agreement and be recognized across the world as a legitimate JTAC program.”

The Thai airmen will take their newly-acquired knowledge and train their subordinates.

“The three Thai CCT airmen we are conducting the subject matter exchange with are all in leadership positions,” Williams said. “They will first become GFACs, which is a stepping stone to becoming a JTAC down the road.”

The subject matter exchange supported Cope Tiger objectives in conjunction with the Air National Guard’s State Partnership Program, as Washington is Thailand's state partner. Engagements such as this meet the primary objectives of the SPP by cultivating enduring personal and institutional relationships that enhance, influence and promote a cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship.

“Working with multiple nations has been a wonderful experience,” Prasoetampaisakul said. “I have learned so much throughout the course of this exercise. I look forward to taking my newfound knowledge and sharing it with my troops.”
 

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