By Tech. Sgt. Tory Cusimano, 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 10, 2020
U.S. and Croatian Airmen take part in exercise ODIN SPEAR 20. (Courtesy Photo)
U.S. Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controllers, or JTACs, are responsible for directing combat aircraft during close air support operations. As such, keeping these Airmen well-trained and ready is vitally important to the mission.
For JTACs with the 4th Combat Training Squadron at Einsiedlerhof Air Station in Germany, however, training is most often something given, not received.
“Our primary mission is basic schoolhouse instruction,” said Master Sgt. Charles Casey, 4th CTS JTAC-instructor and acting superintendent. “Our team rarely gets the opportunity to conduct [that] level of training.”
Enter exercise ODIN SPEAR 20 at Slunj Range, Croatia. 4th CTS designed the exercise from Feb. 15 - 23 to satisfy currency requirements for eight joint, multi-national instructors. It brought together Airmen from both the U.S. and Croatian Air Forces, and featured players from ten different units, including squadrons from the 31st Fighter Wing.
The exercise featured several different combat training scenarios made possible by the participation of the 56th Rescue Squadron and the 510th Fighter Squadron.
“The 56th RQS incorporated realistic training into the exercise by providing a combat lift capability to [transport] the close air support team onto the objective, and providing expert live gunnery training when the ground forces required immediate fire support against simulated enemy targets,” Casey said. “The 510th FS brought the only high-performance close air support platform to the exercise.”
ODIN SPEAR 20 may have facilitated the completion of a slew of training requirements for 4 CTS and the Croatian Air Force, but all participants gained from the experience.
“We learned how we fit into a major ground war, and what our role could be,” said Capt. Patrick Hussey, 56th Rescue Squadron chief of range scheduling. “Working with the Croatian JTACs and range team was awesome.”
Holding the exercise in Croatia also provided an opportunity to strengthen our partnership with a key North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally.
“The Croatians’ eagerness to train alongside U.S. Airmen was evident from the very beginning. Our team expressed this was the best exercise to date, greatly due to the efforts and support of our Croatian hosts,” said Mr. Mathew Comeau, 4th CTS JTAC-instructor and training specialist.
As ODIN SPEAR 20 concluded, 4th CTS returned to Germany with more than just the currency training they needed.
“I’m extremely pleased with how the exercise went,” Comeau said. “ODIN SPEAR 20 will forever be etched in my memory as one of the best exercises I’ve had the privilege to be a part of.”