1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company has a storied history with a legacy that is instilled in every Marine who has served and is serving with 1st ANGLICO. U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Ryan Phillips, a joint fires observer with 1st ANGLICO, is one of those Marines.
ANGLICO’s specialize in combined arms, fire support and communications capabilities in support of planning, coordinating and conducting terminal control of fires. Modern day ANGLICOs were created using Joint Assault Signals Company capabilities as a baseline concept.
“The JASCO units were famously used for adjusting artillery fire in support of ground force. This is where the concept of ANGLICO and the JFO comes from,” said Phillips.
With the reorganization of the U.S. Armed Forces in 1947 the JASCO units were disbanded and their responsibilities were transferred to the U.S. Navy. On March 1, 1951 the newly formed ANGLICO was officially activated, reforming the capabilities of JASCO into a more advanced and lethal warfighting capability.
In May of 1965 1st ANGLICO created Subunit One, the first unit to arrive in Vietnam to conduct traditional JASCO tasks with the inclusion of close air support, while being continuously deployed for eight years.
“Subunit One conducted joint fires in all four tactical zones and provided naval gunfire and CAS in support of all allied forces in Vietnam,” said Phillips. “Subunit One was the last Fleet Marine Force unit to stand down from the Vietnam War. The unit made such a vast impact during this time that the Marine Corps implemented new training to improve upon their CAS capabilities.”
In the late 1970’s, 2nd ANGLICO began experimenting with the concept of the universal spotter. The universal spotter is a Marine who is trained to coordinate and control fires from artillery, naval gunfire and CAS.
“Previously these jobs were done independently and limited what an individual Marine could do on the battlefield,” said Phillips. “This experimental concept also streamlined the process making it significantly more efficient.”
Despite the successes of ANGLICO, the downsizing of the Marine Corps during the 1990s transferred responsibilities from ANGLICO to Marine Liaison Elements, lending to the disbanding of ANGLICO.
“After the 9/11 attacks all ANGLICO units were reinstated with the role of JFO reentering the modern battlefield,” said Phillips. “During its reinstatement the Marine Corps decided to open the JFO certification to all ground combat military occupational specialties creating a more efficient way to call in CAS and artillery fire in support of ground forces. JFO’s play a huge part in correlation on the battlefield making sure the CAS is on target and the pilots are seeing the same target as the JFO’s, streamlining the approval process for CAS.”
The future capabilities of the JFO are ever changing, but adaptability is on the forefront of any modern battlefield.
“With the introduction of drone pilots to the JFO certification process there may be a day in the near future where a drone pilot can identify their own targets and call for joint fires from across the world without having to deploy troops,” said Phillips.