FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, Iraq - Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and United States Special Forces operators continue to integrate combat air support into their joint partnership efforts to provide safety and security for the populace in Kirkuk Province.

The 12th Iraqi Army Special Operations Company (IA SOC), and Operational Detachment-Alpha (ODA) 1216, conducted Close Combat Attacks (CCAs) with OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters from 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Lightning Horse, near Hawijah, Iraq, Dec. 26.

"The objective was to go out to the range and teach these guys how to control the scout weapons team (SWT), the Kiowas," said Chance, a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) with the ODA team. "And to be able to talk them onto a target and engage it effectively and safely."

In addition to the CCAs, the partnered training involved instruction and hands-on training on the AT-4 anti-tank weapon system, M-74 Grenade Launcher and the Rocket-Propelled Grenade Launcher.

ODA 1216, who has regularly advised and assisted the 12th IA SOC in Kirkuk Province, has also received support from TF Lightning Horse for missions in the past.

"We work with them a lot," said Mike, a leader within the ODA team. "[Lightning Horse executes a lot of missions] with us, but this is the first time we've done a training mission together. [The SWTs] everything: route [reconnaissance], [area reconnaissance] on an objective, looking for squirters and [providing] security. [The squadron] provide really good support for us. We live right next door and we talk all the time."

Chance explained the need for the CCA training especially with the ISF expanding their capabilities as they enable the Government of Iraq to maintain a stable and secure environment for the Iraqi people.

"[The Iraqi Air Force is] obviously training their pilots now [and they already] have their own aircraft. Eventually, [Iraqi Army soldiers] are going to have to learn to control [the aircraft] themselves," expressed Chance, focusing the training with 12th IA soldiers on the importance of being able to effectively communicate and coordinate the movement of the aircraft for safe and successful engagements.

Chief Warrant Officer Three Stephen Beech, one of four OH-58D Kiowa Warrior pilots from TF Lightning Horse who flew in support of this particular mission, agreed with the criticality of the concept of building capacity through teaching ISF to effectively use aviation assets.

"The demonstration and introduction to [our tactics, techniques and procedures] using [scout and] attack aircraft [for security, reconnaissance and close attack] support to ground forces gives IA leadership and commanders at all levels a clear understanding of the need, effectiveness and correct application of aviation assets."

Iraqi Army Sgt. Maj. Sadir, the senior enlisted leader for 12th IA SOC, valued the time spent conducting CCAs.

"This was the first time [we've done CCAs]," he said, through an interpreter. "It was good...we benefited from it for the Soldiers' experience. [The training was] good and the support we had was great. It was very, very good for us. [Our CF partners] taught us how to contact the pilots and how to destroy the enemy when we have [reconnaissance and attack aircraft available for support]."

As the 12th IA SOC continue to improve their capacity to provide security in Kirkuk Province, U.S. Forces such as ODA 1216 and TF Lightning Horse continue to advise and assist.

"The demonstration of the employment of scout reconnaissance aircraft for CCAs and limited attack missions is a valuable and worthwhile effort, both for our units, and as a tool to guide the IA in a direction for their armed forces to develop," said Chief Beech.

The 12th IA SOC Sergeant Major recognizes this critical necessity.

"We need that for the future," concluded Sgt. Maj. Sadir. "Everybody needs air support."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16