Marines complete joint fire observer course
CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan -- Twenty Marines completed a joint fire observer course taught by instructors of the Marine detachment at Fort Sill, Okla., Oct. 5-19 at Camp Hansen to become certified JFOs.
The Marines attending the course, hosted by 5th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF, were assigned to various units throughout III MEF.
During fiscal year 2012, the Marine Corps identified a potential shortfall of JFOs. The Marine Corps needs these highly trained Marines to increase close-air support and combined-arms proficiency, according to Capt. Joshua E. Faucett, a JFO instructor with the Marine Corps Artillery Detachment, Fort Sill, Okla.
"The JFO course provides Marines with training in engaging targets using naval surface gunfire and indirect surface fires," said Faucett. "The course also teaches the proper procedures for providing precise targeting information to a joint terminal attack controller for close-air support."
The course maximizes combined arms in combat situations, according to Cpl. Connor R. Lewis, a fire support man with 5th ANGLICO.
"The JFO course taught us new ways to combat the enemy utilizing a wide range of fires that could be available to us," said Lewis.
In combat, using aerial, naval and indirect surface fires can significantly increase effectiveness and put enemy forces in a combined-arms dilemma.
"Controlled fires are made of numerous components coming together," said Sgt. Matthew J. Foglesong, a team leader and reconnaissance man with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF.
A JFO is an observer who utilizes radar and gun data and is taught to order and direct various weapons systems from every branch of service, according to Foglesong.
A JFO who can control fires enables a large volume of quick and accurate fire support to their unit, according to Foglesong.
"The big thing is that it is a force multiplier," said Foglesong. "It brings in the ability to have combined-arms fire, even when we are dangerously close to the enemy."
By the end of the course, Marines possessed the knowledge needed to properly control fires and use military support from each branch of service in a combat zone, increasing the fire support available to forward-deployed units, according to Faucett.
"To date, Fort Sill Marine JFO instructors have trained more than 140 JFOs through five courses, and we are looking to keep increasing the numbers so this capability is available throughout the Marine Corps," said Faucett.