Preparing forward air controllers for their mission in ISAF

The ongoing operations in Afghanistan have seen many changes in how NATO conducts the business of warfighting and peace enforcement, but the greatest adaptation has been in the area of interoperability.

Though NATO previously had standards and procedures for different countries to be able to work and fight together, today International Security Assistance Forces find themselves at an extreme. A Polish Provincial Reconstruction Team may need a Swedish forward air controller to call for aid from French fighters and American MEDEVAC assets. With lives at stake and strenuous efforts to reduce the possibility of civilian casualties, the need to train ISAF forces has never been greater, and one such training event took place from Aug. 17 to 21 in Central Germany.

The pre-deployment training course was held by NATO’s Air Headquarters Allied Air Component Command Headquarters Ramstein, or the CC-Air HQ Ramstein, forward air controllers capability branch.

Based out of CC-Air Ramstein, and using the USAFE Air Ground Operations School in Einsiedlerhof, British and American subject-matter experts briefed Portuguese, Swedish and Estonian forward air controllers on rules of engagement and current intelligence prior to their deployment to ISAF.

“The pre-deployment training course is set to include training on the Rover video equipment and realistic simulator scenarios as well as updates on lessons learned from recent veterans,” said squadron leader Keven Gambold, Royal Air Force and CC-Air HQ Ramstein point of contact for the project. “The week-long course is a prelude to additional field training scheduled for September in Estonia.”

This second phase, called BRTE IV, is part of the Baltic Region Training Event series and will see international forward air controllers instructors assisting Estonian forward air controllers and ground commanders in employing NATO air strike assets (in this case, F-15E Strike Eagles) in representative combat mini scenarios. The two-day training event precedes the Estonian Company’s national ISAF pre-deployment training.

“CC-Air Ramstein plans to conduct four of the week-long FAC pre-deployment training courses each year with assistance from a wide spectrum of the ISAF troop-contributing nations,” Mr. Gambold said.

(Courtesy of CC-Air HQ Ramstein)