Team JSTARS brings manned wide-area view to joint-force combat exercise

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Roger Parsons
  • 116th ACW Public Affairs
Team Joint STARS joined military forces from more than 20 states and four coalition countries, providing manned, battle management, command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities during the Northern Strike 2015 combat training exercise from July 20-31.

The exercise, hosted by the Michigan National Guard, combined air and ground combat scenarios the U.S. military has been involved with the past several years.

Flying out of Robins Air Force Base, JSTARS aircrews completed multiple missions focused on the counter insurgency environment incorporating F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolts, while supporting Soldiers, Marines, and Airmen on the ground.

Working with a liaison officer from the 116th Air Control Wing, aircrews from the 461st ACW and Army JSTARS provided real-time tracking information to air and ground forces helping them find and identify simulated enemy forces.

"Being able to look commanders in the eye and let them know what we can do for them, I've seen our role in Northern Strike grow the past three years." said Maj. Bradley Webb, an air battle manager and senior director with the 116th ACW, Georgia Air National Guard.

According to Maj. Aaron Pulcifer, mission crew commander with the 461st ACW, the wartime environment today is comprised of smaller groups of insurgents hiding within the civilian population, versus a traditional mass force on force war.

"JSTARS is particularly valuable in these [insurgent] types of scenarios because of our ability to view such a wide area of the battlefield with Airmen and Soldiers in the seats making real-time decisions and overcoming technological challenges on the fly."