By Spc. Jason W. Dangel

4th Infantry Division public affairs

Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division's 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, took advantage of an opportunity to flex their "ground" muscles during the semi-annual Atlantic Strike V Operation April 14-20, which was conducted at the Avon Park Air Ground Training Complex in Avon Park, Fla.

The "Hound" soldiers, working with about 350 fellow service members from the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy, served as the ground force for the seven-day event, which was aimed to enhance the war fighting capabilities of joint ground and air forces.

Today, more than ever, cooperation between the U.S. Armed Services is key to defeating a determined enemy in the Central Command Area of Operations, said 1st Lt. Daniel Zimmer, scout platoon leader, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment.

"We always say we train like we fight,' and this gave us the opportunity to do just that," Zimmer explained. "Atlantic Strike V created such realism it forced us to think we were back in Iraq."

The tough team training event was intended to integrate combat aviation Joint Terminal Attack Controllers into ground operations in order to enable platoon leaders to quickly and effectively call for close-air support directly from the site of an enemy location or engagement.

The small "Hound" platoon of about 20 soldiers participated in a multitude of training scenarios with their multi-service counterparts, to include hostage rescues, downed helicopter scenarios, raids and cordon and knocks.

In order to complete the mission, the platoon's ground commander requested close air support through the embedded controllers personnel in order to complete the mission.

The regiment's role in the operation was to obtain positive identification and targeting information for targets on the battlefield to employ controller and fixed-wing assets, explained Senior Airman Isaac Mora, a controller specialist from the 11th Air Support Squadron.

The logic behind the whole operation was literally to avoid exposing ground forces to enemy threats. With the integration of an Air Force, Navy, or Marine JTAC, ground forces have the ability to eliminate the enemy from a safe distance, allowing the precision guided technology to take out the bad guys, Mora said.

The joint services worked very well together, Mora said. More importantly, it provided the servicemembers a chance to see what teamwork can contribute to the war.

The controller's ability to direct military aircraft from a forward position on the ground allowed the platoon to identify enemy positions without exposing his ground force or causing large amounts of collateral damage, Zimmer explained.

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