The mission of the 6th Combat Training Squadron (6 CTS) is to train and educate joint fires integrators for today's and tomorrow's battlefield. The 6 CTS trains Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC), Air Liaison Officers (ALO), Ground Liaison Officers (GLO), and Air Support Operations Center (ASOC)-bound students. It also conducts the Joint Firepower Course (JFC) and Joint Forward Air Controller Airborne (JFAC(A)) kinetic and non-kinetic joint fires integration training.
Joint fires integration involves the coordination and deconfliction of all surface fires - weapons used against ground targets - including those expended from the air and those expended from the ground.
Without this coordination, indirect fires such as artillery shells arcing high in the air, or direct fires such as machine gun bullets travelling between a mountain and a valley, could be a threat to low-flying aircraft. Conversely, a pilot or weapons officer in a plane trying to distinguish between enemy and friendly ground forces while flying at hundreds of miles an hour is far more effective with an advisor on the ground to help determine the best tactic to approach a target or the right place to drop a bomb.
Having these specialist liaisons also speeds up communication, increases the force commander's control of the battle, and improves tactical decision-making and cooperative use of friendly assets across the board.
JTACs provide terminal control of both air and surfaced based fires at the tactical level - they are the ones on the ground "calling in strikes" on targets. ALOs are Air Force members attached to Army units that provide advice and expertise regarding the use of Air Force assets to the ground commander. Likewise, GLOs are Army members who provide advice and assistance to Air Force units. Air Force members working in the Air Support Operations Center are responsible for matching Air Force assets with requests for close air support (CAS) and getting those assets to and from the target areas. Finally, JFAC(A)s are capable of providing the same terminal control for surface and air fires as a JTAC, but add the capability of doing it from an aircraft. All of these duties play key roles in CAS operations.
Students graduating from JTACQC and JTACIC leave as mission qualification training-ready JTACs and JTAC-Instructors respectively. Pairing their academics with some additional home station training upon return to their units, they become ready to deploy as JTACs worldwide. ASOCQC students graduate with an ASOC identifier, as do ALO students graduating ALOQC. GLOQC students are qualified to perform as GLO's attached to an Air Force flying unit. JFC students receive certificates indicating they have accomplished the required training for integration of fires. JFAC(A) students finish with the academics necessary to move onto the flying portion of their upgrade training.
The 6 CTS conducts seven courses including Joint Terminal Attack Controller Qualification Course, Joint Firepower Course, Air Liaison Officer Qualification Course, Air Support Operations Center Qualification Course, Joint Forward Air Controller Airborne ground training, Ground Liaison Officer Qualification Course and Joint Terminal Attack Controller Instructor Course. The instructors include 17 JTAC Instructors, 12 Air Liaison Officers, 8 civilian instructors, a Marine aviator and 5 Army officers and enlisted members who make up Army Joint Support Team - Nellis.
Detachment 1 of the 6 CTS is located at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and includes one officer and one enlisted individual who assist the US Army Field Artillery School with the training of US Army Joint Fires Observers (JFO).
Over 2,000 students are trained by the 6 CTS every year, and approximately half of these are US Army personnel. The 6 CTS also trains approximately 15 international students each year, and conducts 13 off-station JFC and FAC(A) Mobile Training Teams that take the respective course on the road to Army and Air Force units around the globe.
The 6 CTS's history began during World War II as the 6th Tactical Communications Squadron, which stood up on June 10, 1942, at Hunter Field, GA. On Jan. 11, 1943, it was re-designated as the 6th Air Support Communications Squadron and moved to Moms Field, NC. On April 1, 1944, it was re-designated the 6 Tactical Air Communications Squadron and moved to the European theater, serving in the United Kingdom, France and Germany. On October 4, 1945, the unit was inactivated and on October 8, 1948 the unit was disbanded.
The Air Ground Operations School was activated at Pope AFB in 1950 in recognition of a need for better integration of land and air fires. In 1957, the schoolhouse was moved to Keesler AFB and then to Hurlburt AFB in 1962. By the move to Hurlburt, the schoolhouse had already graduated over 30,000 students. It remained at Hurlburt until 1997 when it moved to its current location at Nellis AFB. In 2001 it was re-designated the 6th Combat Training Squadron. The AGOS remains the oldest continuously-operated school in the United States Air Force.
(Current as of July 2012)