Air Force becomes newest YPG tenant

AIR FORCE MAJ. Gary Alexander (right) accepts the guidon from Lt. Col. Steve Spanovich, as Chief Master Sgt. Mickey Wright (left rear) and Sgt. 1st Class John Sadilek look on during the SOTACC assumption of command ceremony on July 8th.

YUMA PROVING GROUND - A large group gathered in a hangar located at the Laguna Army Airfield here on Wednesday to witness the formal transfer of the Special Operations Terminal Attack Control Course (SOTACC) from the managerial authority of the Army to the Air Force. 

Maj. James Gary Alexander, Air Force Special Operations Command, Special Tactics Training Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., officially assumed responsibility as detachment commander of SOTACC at the beginning of this month. 

"At this school we teach the fundamentals of close air support, which involves a person on the ground communicating directly with an aircraft, capable of delivering heavy ordnance in order to deter, destroy or delay an enemy," said Alexander. 

The importance of this school, Alexander said, can be seen in the current conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and other areas, where ground controllers are on duty now.

The Air Force major went on to say that American military personnel overseas rely heavily on deployment of weapons in order to destroy enemy targets and it takes excellent air-to-ground communication to make it happen.

Alexander currently oversees six personnel, including one civilian, one non-commissioned officer in charge and four instructors. 

"We have military students who come to YPG from all over the world to attend this course, including friendly nations," said Alexander. "The decision was made to keep the school at Yuma Proving Ground because of the great training opportunities offered here, such as the excellent weather, desert environment, uncrowded airspace and top-notch range facilities."  

SOTACC was established in 2003 under the command of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School due to the need of a Joint Terminal Attack Controller Course (JTAC). 

SOTACC offers six courses per year with 15 students per class. Students are special operations personnel from the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps.

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