An ITAC (left) practises calling an airstrike during training near Iraq‘s Al-Asad Airbase during Exercise ‘Phoenix Fires' in October 2021. (Combined Special Operations Joint Task Force – Levant)
US-trained Iraqi Terminal Attack Controllers (ITACs) have successfully directed strikes from Iraqi aircraft for the first time, according to the latest quarterly report on Operation ‘Inherent Resolve' in Iraq and Syria released by the US Department of Defense's Office of Inspector General (OIG).
The ITACs are members of the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), also known as Iraq Special Operations Forces (ISOF), who have been given 10 weeks training by the US Special Operations Advisory Group to co-ordinate air support. Each ISOF brigade has about eight to 10 ITACs, but the OIG previously reported that they needed to transition to working with Iraqi as well as US-led coalition aircraft.
It said the 2nd ISOF Brigade has led the way in integrating ITACs but Iraq's overarching Joint Operations Centre (JOC-I) denied its requests for Iraqi Air Force assets earlier in 2022.
That changed on 14 May, when the JOC-I approved ITAC-directed Iraqi airstrikes against Islamic State targets, according to the latest OIG report, which was released on 2 August. The report included a list of Iraqi airstrikes that said F-16s used three GBU-12 and two GBU-10 guided bombs against personnel and “bed-down locations” on 14 May.
“While the increase in usage is promising, the shortfall of capable and proficient ITACs requires the ISOF commanders to use the same controllers on a majority of missions,” the report cited the coalition as saying.