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Fort Stewart hosts joint exercise
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An AH-64 Apache helicopter with 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division from Hunter Army Airfield, fires at a target in the Fort Stewart impact area as part of the Joint Air Attack Team during exercise Falcon Focus on Sunday. - photo by Photo by Cailtin Kenney

On Sunday, Fort Stewart concluded an exercise with a JAAT.

What’s that?

JAAT stands for Joint Air Attack Team, in which several military assets work together to hit a target at the same time — in this case Fort Stewart’s impact area, which is a designated area in which munitions can be fired during training exercises.

Marne soldiers from the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade from Hunter Army Airfield and Division Artillery from Fort Stewart worked together with members of the U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps in the JAAT, the culminating event of a two-week brigade-level validation exercise called Falcon Focus.

Falcon Focus’ “goal is to increase the (3rd CAB)’s overall readiness because the Army’s No. 1 priority right now is readiness,” said Capt. Danielle Killian, 3rd CAB public affairs officer.

“The brigade as well as our battalions are all spread out across Fort Stewart right now, all working together and syncing to ensure that we’re increasing our ability to do this type of thing in any worldwide operations, anytime we are called upon,” she said before the JAAT event started.

Soldiers on Fort Stewart are capable of training for a number to scenarios and are even able to fire every munition short of a Patriot missile.

What also makes the JAAT event possible is the proximity to nearby assets, such as the F/A-18 Hornet from the Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, which did a “show of force” maneuver during the Sunday exercise.

Having different military services nearby allows Fort Stewart “to really get together and coordinate for this type of training, which is very unique for this area,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Barry Galinger, a targeting officer with 3rd CAB. “It’s very challenging with other bases that I’ve been to because we’re separated by so much time and distance away.”

Galinger said the planning for the JAAT took about four months.

“This is one of those opportunities where you do it once — once and every so often. It’s not something we do every day,” he said.

The event started with a Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft System from 3rd CAB flying over the impact area, looking to identify an enemy target. Capt. William Neltner, brigade assistant fires support officer at Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd CAB, said the Army’s forward observers are a “big piece of positive identification of enemy, and that’s a huge requirement.”

“To avoid collateral damage, we have to have positive identification of enemy, and forward observers are the first line of that to ensure that we are minimizing any innocent civilian deaths,” Neltner said. “And try and avoid that as much as possible.”

Once a target is identified, 3rd CAB’s AH-64 Apache helicopters “will show up and fire approximately 10 Hellfire missiles to suppress the enemy air defense artillery,” and then they will set up at a new position where they can continue to fire into impact area, Galinger said. At the same time, artillery from 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery Regiment was firing into the impact area in support of the Apache helicopters.

Col. Jeffrey Becker, the 3rd CAB commander, was hovering in a Black Hawk helicopter in view of the impact area, coordinating the operation.

“The benefit of the joint training is you never know where you’re at, and you never know who’s going to be there for you when you’re out in combat,” Galinger said. “So by identifying these types of training events and working together, we get comfortable.”

By demonstrating the weapons and joint capabilities of the U.S. military, he said, “Our goal is to show the American people that we are the most lethal force, and we will take care of business by any means necessary,” he said.

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