By Airman 1st Class Andrew Bertain | 21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Ten Airmen from the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron went through a tactical air control party mission qualification training exercise July 15-18, 2019 on Fort Carson, Colorado.
The training is a way to gauge each Airman’s deployment readiness, test how the Airmen can perform as a team and is also one of the final steps of upgrade training for new Airmen. The training is for both newly assigned junior enlisted Airmen and officers.
The group of Airmen went through multiple scenarios put together by more experienced TACPs and joint terminal attack controllers, to include clearing a building, securing a village, injured personnel rescue and handling a hostage situation.
The exercise started Monday, July 15, and did not end until early Thursday morning, but for the students, preparations started the week prior.
“We tried to model it after real world operations,” said 2nd Lt. Stephen Stein, 13th ASOS TACP officer and chief of training. “So last week, before they started, the students received an operations order, which is something we would receive from the U.S. Army for an up and coming mission. After that, they started planning. So they had to start preparing the equipment, get the vehicles ready and then from there they had a timeline of when they would start the mission.”
During their exercise, the students were critiqued on their skillsets to make sure they would be ready in any contingency operation, ultimately deciding if they are deployable.
“I think this really showed us what we can expect in the future,” said 2nd Lt. Parker Gray, 13th ASOS TACP officer and exercise team lead. “ We were completing objectives and missions with criteria all throughout the week, all with minimal sleep, and I think that really showed us how we may react in the future, when we are in that kind of environment.”
Although the exercise was only for ten Airmen, approximately 30 TACPs and JTACs were involved with organizing the training exercise, participating as instructors, playing the role of an opposing force or helping set things up.
After the exercise, both Gray and Stein said they took away a lot from these events.
Stein, having done his training about 12 years prior as an enlisted TACP, said he was impressed with the effort the squadron put into it, and believed this set the new standard for MQT.
“The amount of hard work that was put into this by the instructors to set it up and make sure the scenarios were realistic and made sense, was phenomenal,” said Stein.
Gray, as the student, said he took away lessons of leadership and how to work with his teammates.
“I think the biggest lesson as a team lead was I started out the week making decisions fast just trying to get everything done, but later on in the week I started involving the team a little bit more in the decision making process,” said Gray. “When we had a question, we took a few more minutes to get the team together, and we came up with better decisions. We really came together as a team, worked together as a team and were able to help each other out.”