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Bosnia and Herzegovina Host U.S. F-16s and JTAC Training
3 MINUTE READ
January 8, 2024

Two United States Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons will conduct bilateral air-to-ground training with joint terminal attack controllers (JTAC) from the United States Army Special Forces (SOF) and Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina (AFBiH) in the Tuzla and Brcko region on the afternoon of January 8.

This bilateral training is an example of advanced military-to-military cooperation that contributes to peace and security in the Western Balkans as well as demonstrates the United States’ commitment to ensuring the territorial integrity of BiH in the face of anti-Dayton and secessionist activity.  The United States has underscored that the BiH Constitution provides no right of secession, and it will act if anyone tries to change this basic element of Dayton.

The training event is part of efforts by U.S. forces to exchange tactics, techniques, and procedures with the AFBiH.  The mission also will be supported by a KC-135 Stratotanker that will provide aerial refueling for the F-16s over the Republika Srpska entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa routinely engage militarily with regional partners to provide training opportunities, enhance interoperability, and demonstrate our shared commitment to common security objectives.  Bosnia and Herzegovina is a key U.S. partner with a shared goal in regional stability.

U.S. aircraft will return to base immediately following mission completion.  The ability to rapidly deploy, reach a target and return home demonstrates the United States’ ability to project power anywhere at a moment’s notice and operate alongside Allies and partners.

JTAC teams are specially trained service members who direct the action of combat aircraft engaged in close air support.  JTACs are the critical link between military elements on the ground and in the air.  JTACs are used to direct the action of military aircraft from a forward position in support of ground forces.  U.S. Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR) JTACs are a critical tactical-level capability providing support to conventional units, including U.S. Air Forces Europe-Air Forces Africa.  Their skillset and unique training make them a force-multiplier.

For several years, U.S. Special Operations Command Europe (SOCEUR) JTACs have worked with the AFBiH to train their JTAC unit.  This JTAC program is one of the first specialty-selected, trained, and equipped units in the AFBiH.  The establishment of the BiH national JTAC program was in part possible through the assistance and advising of U.S. Special Operations Forces.

U.S. SOF also trains the AFBiH JTAC cadre on advanced infantry skills, with the eventual goal of creating a TACP (Tactical Air Control Party) style JTAC program.  SOCEUR ensures a unified front to deter potential enemy aggression by assisting partner forces to develop specialty units.