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Combat Training Prepares JTAC Airmen

HANCOCK FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Members of the 274th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS) completed close air support (CAS) training at Barry M. Goldwater Range (BMGR) in Gila Bend, AZ. Feb 9-16.

The BMGR is one of the largest live fire aircraft ranges in the United States.

"This training gave us the opportunity to train with live aircraft, live ordnance, and to get on an observation point and actually see bombs being delivered on target," said Tech. Sgt. David Cook, a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) with the 274th. "The range environment itself was realistic to the type of terrain that we might encounter down range." 

The training was a joint effort that involved JTACs from the United Kingdom with close air support provided by A-10 Thunderbolt II's from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (AFB) and F-16 Fighting Falcon's from Luke AFB.

"Because training is practice for combat, we try to make training as realistic as possible for our airmen," said Master Sgt. Joshua Deweese, chief JTAC instructor at the 274th. "This way if or when our airmen deploy, there will be little to no surprises."

JTACs deploy with Army units and direct the action of combat aircraft operating in CAS and other offensive operations. The goal of the BMGR training was to not only challenge the JTACs, it was to complete skills evaluations and currency controls to sustain their readiness qualifications.

"With the winter weather, it sometimes affects our ability to get currency controls locally," said Cox. "The trip to Gila Bend was good because it gave us the opportunity to get as many of our JTACs current here in the squadron, as well as create new JTACs."

The 274th ASOS was initially designated a combat communications squadron shortly after WWII and stationed in Roslyn, NY on Long Island, the unit transitioned to an air support operations squadron and moved to its current location at Hancock Field in 2000. The move allowed the unit access to the Fort Drum Bombing Range, 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and 20th ASOS (USAF active duty) to enhance their training.