Tactical Air Control
D. Thomas's Website
Article: Tactical Air Control
by Admiral Smith - September 1995
The history of this career field can be found on
TSgt Charlie Heidal's
website. However, the following description will
provide you with the TACP structure, mission and mottos.
The term Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) refers
to the two or three MAN operations team responsible
for interfacing with, coordinating for and conducting
for Army ground forces (U.S. or multi-national) Close
Air Support (CAS). However, there are broader and
much more narrow aspects to this field.
The MAJCOMs for the TACP parent units are ACC, PACAF
and USAFE. Under each MAJCOM are Air Support Operations
Squadrons (ASOS). Each ASOS is broken down into two
parts: operations and support. Our support troops
include Radio Maintenance, Supply and Information
Management. Our operations section is broken down
into two parts: Air Liaison Officers (ALOs) and Tactical
Air Command and Control Specialists (TACCS). Most
commonly referred to as ROMAD (for Radio Operator,
Maintainer and Driver - an old acronym; Recon, Observe,
Mark and Destroy - the new acronym; or, more jokingly
and definitely non-P.C., Rude, Obnoxious, Mean-Assed
Drunk), TACCS are highly trained enlisted specialists.
TACPs usually consist of two or three people, usually
one ALO and one or two TACCS capable of going anywhere
(leg, mech, light or airborne) to accomplish CAS.
The TACPs mission is: interface with army ground
forces, liaison with both command staff and forward
controllers, advise of Air Force Tactical Air assets,
coordinate any those assets and then control that
CAS asset to bear on enemy targets. This is broken
down into the phrase, "Advise, Assist and Control."
As for the individuals, ALOs are generally either
ex- or banked fighter jocks and, to an increasingly
lesser extent, WIZZOs or navigators. All are officers
at least a 1st lieutenant or higher grade. ALOs are
generally the controllers of any CAS mission. TACCS
are broken down into two groups: standard TACCS and
highly trained specialists known as Enlisted Terminal
Attack Controllers (ETACs). When certified, ETACs
are capable of performing the same operations as ALOs.
As their ability to retain fighter jocks is reduced,
the mission of the ETACs will grow with the eventual
transition of all TACCS into becoming ETACs after
a couple of years of field training.
ALOs and TACCS can be found at almost every major
U.S. Army base around the world. Unlike other "specialized"
Air Force brethren (excluding Combat Weather), they
live on Army posts, go to the field with them, train
with them, eat the food, ruck with them, live with
them are often mistaken for the Air Force's Army.
Members can be found assigned to Armor/Mech units,
Scout units, CAV units, Mountain troops, light and
heavy brigades, divisions and battalions. Members
are found at the Special Forces and Rangers, many
SF qualified and full Ranger members (completed the
Ranger and SF training). Many members are at Airborne
divisions, most with wings (a few with gold stars).
They can go anywhere, in any weather, in any environment
with any friendly ground force to accomplish CAS.
At the present, there are four Air National Guard
ASOS to provide support for 15 Army National Guard
Enhanced Brigades (light, scout/cav, heavy/mech) throughout
the U.S. and its territories.
There are two TACP mottos: "Death on Call,"
and "The strong shall stand, the weak will fall
by the wayside."
7/1/00 - UPDATE FROM READER:
Your sight is very informative, however I did notice
one discrepancy. You said that ALO's are the principle
controllers for CAS missions. This was true at one
time, however these days it is the ETAC that does
the controlling, and the ALOs stick to the liaison
portion. In the five years that I've been doing this
job I've never had an ALO actually control a mission
while out on an exercise or otherwise. They still
practice, just not very much.
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