Iraqi Terminal Attack Controllers (ITAC) from multiple battalions of the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Services (CTS) traveled to Mosul Dam and Al Asad Air Base to meet with their Coalition Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) partners from the Special Operations Joint Task Force – Levant for the Exercise Phoenix Fires. The exercise, which took place from October 16-29, 2021, allowed the partners to improve their ground and air communication skills to accurately call for air support on ground targets.
The first portion of the exercise focused on fundamentals and techniques during classroom based block of instruction. Afterwards the participants shifted from class time to the range where they worked with aircraft support during the day, as well as night operations.
“We are lucky to have this exercise for the soldiers (so) they can practice on their skills and keep them ready for doing more missions in the future,” said Iraqi Lt. Col. Ali, who is assigned to the Counter Terrorism Center Headquarters.
Air support for Exercise Phoenix Fires consisted of F-16 ‘Fighting Falcon’ jets, AH-64 Apache helicopters, Mil MI-17 helicopters and other Coalition aircraft. The exercise at Mosul Dam saw machine gun fire from helicopters throughout parts of the exercise, while participants at Al Asad Air Base had the opportunity to call in three 500 pound bombs from Coalition jets during the second week of the training.
The Special Operations Joint Task Force’s mission within Operation Inherent Resolve is to work by, with and through our partner forces to defeat Daesh. This exercise demonstrated aligned capabilities through shared experiences and institutional capacity while maintaining regional security.
“We’re trying to get them to become organic instructors themselves, to police each other,” said Tech Sgt. Anthony Evelyn-Watts from the 116th Air Support Operations Squadron. “That’s really the overall goal; is for them to have a self-sustaining air-to-ground integration.”
The Special Operations Joint Task Force – Levant is in Iraq at the invitation of the Government of Iraq to facilitate advisory, assistance and to counter malign influence that looks to disrupt the sovereignty and prosperity of Iraq.