Australian and International JTACs Hone Skills in Exercise Bersama Shield 2024

Two Australian Joint Terminal Attack Controllers participate in Exercise Bersama Shield 2024 in Malaysia, honing skills alongside international counterparts. They control high-speed jet aircraft during close air support sorties, demonstrating interoperability and cooperation in defense operations.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Australian and International JTACs Hone Skills in Exercise Bersama Shield 2024

Australian and International JTACs Hone Skills in Exercise Bersama Shield 2024

Two Australian Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) are participating in Exercise Bersama Shield 2024 in Malaysia, honing their skills alongside fellow international JTACs and ground forward air controllers (GFACs) from Malaysia, the UK, and Singapore. Bombardier Matt Freegard from the JTAC Troop, School of Artillery and Bombardier Jackson Lawrence from the 8th/12th Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery are representing Australia in the annual training exercise conducted by nations of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA).

Why this matters: This exercise demonstrates the commitment of the Five Power Defence Arrangements nations to promoting stability and security in Southeast Asia, and highlights the importance of interoperability and cooperation in defense operations. The success of such exercises can have a direct impact on the effectiveness of joint military operations in the region.

The Australian JTACs are controlling high-speed jet aircraft during several close air support sorties, calling in close air support from combat aircraft onto targets in support of the joint exercise force. "Our role as JTACs during the exercise was to call in close air support from combat aircraft onto targets in support of the joint exercise force," said Bombardier Matt Freegard. Royal Malaysian Air Force Hawk aircraft from 6 Squadron and Republic of Singapore Air Force F-15 and F-16 aircraft from 149 and 145 Squadron are flying several sorties, simulating air-to-ground strikes.

Exercise Bersama Shield 2024 provides an opportunity for the five FPDA nations to demonstrate their interoperability and share knowledge on conducting close air support missions. "Working with our Malaysian, UK, and Singaporean partners was a great opportunity to share knowledge and the different ways we go about conducting close air support missions," Bombardier Freegard noted. Bombardier Jackson Lawrence added, "Being in direct contact with the aircrew simulating a ground attack, along with seeing the skilful handling of the different aircraft, was a standout for me."

The Five Power Defence Arrangements, established in 1971, bring together Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United Kingdom in a series of multilateral defense activities aimed at promoting stability and security in Southeast Asia. Regular exercises like Bersama Shield allow the member nations to strengthen their professional relationships and enhance their ability to operate together seamlessly.

Squadron Leader Jamie Fox, Commander of the Australian Contingent, emphasized the significance of JTAC participation in Exercise Bersama Shield, stating, "Having JTACs participate on Exercise Bersama Shield was a great opportunity for the five nations to demonstrate their interoperability." The exercise, taking place on an offshore island in Malaysia, provides a unique training environment for the Australian JTACs to sharpen their skills in controlling close air support missions and working alongside their international counterparts.

Key Takeaways

  • Australian JTACs participate in Exercise Bersama Shield 2024 in Malaysia.
  • Exercise promotes stability and security in Southeast Asia through interoperability.
  • JTACs control high-speed jet aircraft in close air support sorties.
  • FPDA nations share knowledge on conducting close air support missions.
  • Exercise strengthens professional relationships among FPDA member nations.