Airmen assigned to the 4th Air Support Operations Group, Wiesbaden, Germany; the 4th Combat Training Squadron, Ramstein, Germany; the 7th Air Support Operations Squadron, Ft. Bliss, Texas; and Air National Guard Airmen in Poland supported U.S., Allied and partner nations during exercise INIOCHOS 22, held March 27 to April 7, 2022, at Andravida Air Base, Larissa and Argos in Greece. INIOCHOS 22 is a Hellenic air force-sponsored operational and tactical level Field Training Exercise, hosted by the Hellenic Air Tactics Center at Greece’s fighter weapons school. The exercise is aimed at enhancing combat readiness, fighting capability, and the interoperability between the participating forces.
Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) operators exercise mission command at the tactical edge to direct and synchronize air operations in support of NATO Allies and partners. This includes advising ground commanders on the capabilities and limitations of airpower, and the planning, requesting, and controlling of various air effects. Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) are specifically trained and certified TACP operators who provide terminal control of airpower, usually in the form of close air support (CAS). The mission of the TACPs during the exercise is to support CAS engagements throughout the country of Greece by providing command and control (C2), integration, and precision strike capabilities.
TACP C2 relays information for CAS missions to the jets at the air base in Andravida from different locations, as well as the health and welfare of all TACPs throughout the country, explained TSgt. Austin Ballantine, 7 ASOS, TACP C2 Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge. Training is vital between air and ground parties as there are not many links that exist. The TACP/NATO JTACs are there to assist. TACP C2 is collecting data from the TACPs around the country, Greece, and channeling it to one specific point. This allows the information to be controlled and distributed to who needs to get it, explained Mehok.
There are many different CAS capabilities such as bombers, fighters, and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms. This exercise increases the operator’s interoperability between NATO partners specifically regarding close air support techniques, tactics and procedures. The TACP operators showcase equipment they use to NATO counterparts, which is often different from their current capabilities. This allows our partners to learn and train on more equipment and overall increases interoperability across NATO. During training and exercises like INIOCHOS, NATO operators have to persevere through language and training barriers to support the aircraft from multiple nations. This isn’t Ballantine’s first mission in Greece. He participated in a CAS mission here eight years ago. The team explained how everyone has been very capable and each member has been utilized in many different roles during INIOCHOS 22.