Maryland National Guard and Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina participate in JTAC training

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Chris Schepers
  • Maryland National Guard

Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) from the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina (AFBiH) participated in their first ever live-fire training exercise with Maryland National Guard and other U.S. aircraft April 2-6, 2024, at the New Jersey Air National Guard’s Warren Grove Gunnery Range during Deliberate Response ’24.

Maryland Air National Guard A-10 Thunderbolt II pilots from the 104th Fighter Squadron and Maryland Army National Guard joint fires observers assigned to Detachment 1, HHB, 1st Battalion, 107th Field Artillery Regiment, trained with the AFBiH JTACS along with Marines and AH-1Z Viper helicopters from the Marine Forces Reserve and a JTAC instructor from the New York Air National Guard.

Deliberate Response ’24 was a combined and joint close air support integration exercise created to enhance individual and collective readiness and to support allied interoperability. The exercise demonstrated the dedicated partnership between the Maryland National Guard and the AFBiH through the State Partnership Program.

“The joint fires observers work with the [AFBiH] JTACs to help control helicopters and attack aviation, fixed-wing jet fighters to fire live ammunition,” said Maryland Army National Guard Lt. Col. Alexi Franklin, 1st Battalion, 175th Infantry Regiment commander. “When you are listening to the radio you don’t know if it’s an American JTAC or a JTAC from the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. You cannot tell and they are just as professional and proficient and it is super humbling to get to work with professionals like that.”

The JTAC training is designed to enhance close air support capabilities of fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft against hostile targets that are in close proximity to friendly forces. The detailed integration of each air mission is essential with the fire and movement of U.S. forces and their partners.

During a visit to the range to observe the training, senior leaders from both the Maryland National Guard and Armed Forces of Bosnia Herzegovina were in attendance to witness the first time the countries trained together in a live-fire exercise.

“These types of exercises allow us to build relationships with our allies so we are able to work together during future operations,” said Maryland Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Amy Kremser, Maryland National Guard director of the Joint Staff. “Today’s training demonstrated how far we have come in our relationship [with the AFBiH] and that there is overlap in our standards and in our professionalism.”

The Maryland National Guard and the Armed Forces of Bosnia Herzegovina have been partners for more than 20 years through the National Guard’s State Partnership Program. The partnership extends well beyond military-to-military training events.

“This exercise is proof of the high level of cooperation the Armed Forces Bosnia and Herzegovina has with the Maryland National Guard and it’s also proof of the United States’ dedication as a key and strategic partner to constantly improve our capabilities and capacities,” said AFBiH Lt. Col. Admir Jusupović, Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina assistant defense attaché and liaison officer to the Maryland National Guard. “Our guys had the opportunity to train side-by-side with the Maryland National Guard and with that they improved their capabilities. I couldn’t be more proud to see them together with the A-10s doing a fantastic job.”