JTACs in High Demand

The Air Force more than doubled the number of joint terminal attack controllers in Afghanistan from 2009 to last year. The spike from 53 of these airmen to 134 is attributable to the increase in the use of bombs, missiles and strafing runs, which has reached the “highest level since the war began,” reports USA Today. Col. Richard Gannon, a Kabul-based air operations commander, told the newspaper that the high demand for airpower is tied to supporting NATO ground troops in the face of a resilient enemy. In October, Afghanistan-based JTACs broke a new record when they helped coordinate 1,000 close air support missions in which aircraft dropped bombs, or fired missiles or guns. (The previous mark, 984, was set in June 2008.) But the high demand for JTACs does not come without costs. JTACs spend nearly as much time deployed as they do at home. (See also JTAC Chatter and JTACs Get Training Boost from the Daily Report archives)