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Elite Air Force group ready for anything

By Bonney Bowman 7:39 PM March 13, 2014

They're the ones who call in the airstrikes when the guns on the ground aren't enough

ANCHORAGE – There’s an elite U.S. Air Force group stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, constantly training to be ready for any mission.

They’re called TACPs, tactical air control party specialists and JTACs, joint terminal attack controllers.

They’re the ones who call in the airstrikes when the guns on the ground aren’t enough.

Thursday’s mission: Small arms training immediately after intense cardio.

“Your heart rate is up, you can’t breathe and you still need to pull that trigger,” said Senior Airman Eddie Schmitz.

The goal: Be prepared when the bullets start flying.

For this small group, training is an everyday necessity.

They operate in combat zones like Afghanistan, fulfilling a wide range of tasks.

“Today it might be close combat shooting or it might be dropping bombs tomorrow. It might be an airborne mission any other day,” said Capt. Jack Fine, assistant brigade air liaison officer.

It’s not just physically demanding. Providing air support so close to friendly forces requires mental precision as well.

It takes years to get the certification.

“It’s something you wait, from the day you decide you want to be a TACP, until that moment it’s just such a pay off,” Schmitz said.

With such a small group, only 30 stationed at JBER, these guys bring new meaning to brothers in arms.

“We take care of each other and look out after each other,” Fine said.

The unit motto is “quiet professionals,” which is why they’re a relatively unheard of group, even on base.

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