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120th Fighter Squadron adds another first to its pedigree

CaptainTabatha Johnson, from the 140th Wing's Military Equal Opportunity Office, conducts mobility training for the 120th Operations Group pilots during an Operational Readiness Exercise in preparation for an upcoming inspection.

CaptainTabatha Johnson, from the 140th Wing's Military Equal Opportunity Office, conducts mobility training for the 120th Operations Group pilots during an Operational Readiness Exercise in preparation for an upcoming inspection.

Major James T. Reeman inspects his mobility bag with others from his squadron as they practice for an upcoming ORI at the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard.

Major James T. Reeman inspects his mobility bag with others from his squadron as they practice for an upcoming ORI at the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard.

William E. Orton "Willy-O", a pilot from the 120th Operations Flight, performs pre-flight checks on his F-16 aircraft during an Operational Readiness Inspection, as the Crew Chief looks on.

William E. Orton "Willy-O", a pilot from the 120th Operations Flight, performs pre-flight checks on his F-16 aircraft during an Operational Readiness Inspection, as the Crew Chief looks on.

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- The Colorado Air National Guard' s 120th Fighter Squadron added another first to its long list of firsts when the F-16 squadron flew the new Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation pod at Green Flag East Dec. 4.

The ACMI pod transmits real-time, three-dimensional flight data which is then integrated with Blue Force Tracker data to create a three-dimensional battlefield map.

The real-time map of constantly moving elements helps battlefield commanders develop an understanding of aircraft capabilities. By seeing what the Air Force can do without actually seeing the airplanes, Army commanders can utilize close air support more effectively when needed for real-world events.

Close air support is defined as air actions by fixed or rotary winged aircraft against hostile targets that are in close proximity to friendly forces, and those actions require detailed integration of each air mission with fire and movement of these forces.

In a rapidly changing battlefield, the increased situational awareness creates an extra margin of safety by reducing the "fog of war" and the potential for friendly fire accidents. This precision is the key to defeating an enemy, when "close" may be just a house or two away.

Data from the ACMI pods can also be used in future battle simulations or aid in investigations.

Green Flag East is an ongoing training exercise at Barksdale Air Force Base in which pilots learn close air support techniques and tactics with Soldiers at nearby Fort Polk, La.