BAGHDAD - The Iraqi Army range control team at the Besmaya Combat Training Center worked with United States Forces-Iraq personnel to execute joint live-fire exercises in early November.

The Iraqi range control team provided range support operations for U.S. Air Force close air support and U.S. Army close combat aviation assets over a two-day period from Nov. 3 through 4. The Iraqi range control team prepared range 16 for the exercise by setting up the target array, and coordinating with USF-I personnel to make the training possible.

U.S. Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopter weapons teams fired 30mm cannons and 2.75-inch rockets, and U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon teams fired their 20mm cannons and dropped 500 pound bombs.

"We've worked a lot with the range control guys," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Holinger, commander of Detachment 2, 82nd Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron, the unit that spearheaded the exercise. "They have built new targets out on the range, and built revetments, so there are things out there visible for the pilots to see and shoot at."

This close air support exercise is the first conducted at BCTC since the Iraqi Army took sole ownership of the facility in July, so it's a new experience for the range control team.

"In a couple years from now when they have planes capable of dropping ordnance, they'll have a place they can train and will know what they need to do to make it work," Holinger said.

The Iraqi range control team went to the observation point, and briefed USF-I leaders on all aspects of range safety, said Iraqi Army Capt. Mohammed Shalan, Besmaya's range control supervisor.

"Range control is the spinal cord for the Besmaya range complex, because from here we control every range in every spot on the training center," Mohammed said.

The nature of this training has taught us a lot about preparation of a range and range procedures, Mohammed said. I can help our Iraqi Air Force if they want to have a similar exercise here. I have learned a lot of things from the U.S. Air Force.

"It's all part of being ready at a moment's notice to take whatever action we have to," Holinger said. "The objective is to get our Joint Fires Observers training with our Joint Terminal Attack Controllers."

The Joint Fires Observers work from the ground to provide the Joint Terminal Attack Controllers with timely and accurate targeting data and updates, typically by radio, Holinger said. The Joint Terminal Attack Controllers is with the ground commander, who has authority for tactical action and gives fighters permission to drop the bombs.