NATO) forces have begun training Afghan Tactical Air Controllers (ATAC) to pinpoint the ground targets for aircraft flying overhead in order to enhance air strike accuracy and reduce civilian casualties.
"Once the aircraft gets to the target area you have a much higher ability to effectively strike that target. With a guy on the ground talking the pilot's eyes to the target. When you're in the air, the picture of what's going on is vastly different than when you're on the ground. So the ability to 'talk' the pilot's eyes to the target is effectively huge and the effectiveness of the strikes go (sic) up exponentially when you do that," said Lieutenant Colonel, Andy Janssen, a U.S advisor. About 60 students are currently at various levels in this training program, with officials hoping to field nearly 100 so-called Afghan Tactical Air Controllers by March next year. Lieutenant Mohammad Ekram, an ATAC trainee, said he hoped the training would help to prevent civilian casualties and avoid hitting the wrong targets. NATO has shifted most military responsibility on to Afghanistan's armed forces since it ended its main combat mission after 2014, including building up air capabilities that are crucial to holding back Taliban advances.