TACP Job Description

[NOTE: I need someone to re-write this. It was written quite a while back and needs updating. Volunteer? email charlie@romad.com]

TACP School House Informational Video
Air National Guard Recruiting Video
TACPs Putting Bombs on Target
TACPs Hollywood
TACP Recruiting Video
Washington ANG Recruiting Video
SOF TACP in Afghanistan
TACP Video

Welcome to the ROMAD.COM public affairs section.  This area is designed to give you a brief overview of what a ROMAD/TACP is and what we do.  If you have further questions, read the FAQ   (IE, if your looking to crosstrain or have specific questions)

Only a select few wear the Black Beret that symbolizes the Tactical Air Control Party (TACP). The Air Force specialists are assigned to Army combat maneuver units around the world. On a battlefield, they form a tactical air control party team that plans, requests and directs air strikes against enemy targets in close proximity to friendly forces. A TACP is generally a two-airman team, working in an Army ground unit and directing close air support firepower toward enemy targets on the ground.

Tactical Air Command and Control Specialists are part of a team called a Tactical Air Control Party (TACP). The mission is to advise US Army combat commanders on the use of Air Force air power. One example of air power is a fighter aircraft attacking targets close to friendly troops. This is Close Air Support and is a very important part of the TACP mission. It is the TACP's job to control the fighters and to make sure they attack the correct target. This unique mission requires operating on the battlefield. TACPs communicate with other tactical air and ground units by use of state-of-the-art radios, while mirroring the maneuver capabilities of our Army counterparts. Whether it's parachuting out of an airplane from 20000 feet with the Special Forces, 800 feet with the 82nd Airborne Division, engaging in a tank assault with the 1st Armored Division, or operating deep behind enemy lines with the 75th Ranger Regiment,
the TACP mission is the same…PUTTING BOMBS ON TARGET!

TACPs live, train, and deploy with the US Army units. When deployed, the TACPs live under austere field conditions, and are responsible for the coordination, de-confliction, and execution of all USAF attack aircraft. Qualified individuals, serving as Terminal Attack Controllers (ETACs), provide final attack control to the pilots while the fighters are inbound to the target. The ETAC is responsible for ensuring that the pilot identifies and attacks the correct target while minimizing the risk to friendly ground forces. During peacetime, training is the major focus. This training can take the form of common skills testing (mission readiness), various weapons qualifications, chemical warfare and combat first aid training. At various times throughout the year, Army field training exercises (FTX) are conducted to evaluate combat readiness. The lengths of these exercises vary from a few days to a month.

The Defense Information Infrastructure System Program Office’s TACP modernization program has four main products: a dismounted multi-band radio, a laser range finder, a computer and information software suite and a vehicle mounted radio package. The dismounted radio, called a manpack, is a multi-band, multimode radio that covers the gamut of wave forms. Frequencies covered include VHF, UHF and UHF SATCOM radio. The unit is also compatible with the Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System, a system which the Army uses. The total cost for the radio upgrade is more than $10 million. During 2000, a total of 221 Harris PRC-117F Manpack Radios were purchased and delivered to TACP units. In April 2001, Harris Corporation of Rochester, NY, was awarded a contract for an additional 561 radios. The first 230 radios were delivered to
TACP units within three months.

Another integral part of enhancing the TACP’s capabilities is the new Mark VII Eyesafe Laser Range Finder. The laser range finder, which looks like a regular pair of binoculars, provides accurate distance measuring and location information on whatever target is in the operators field of view. Previously, the TACPs can only estimate the range to a target. With the laser range finder, they will look through the range finder at a target, which will emit a laser beam onto the target. The beam immediately bounces back and provides the exact coordinates of the target, which are relayed up to the pilot. The contract with Litton Laser Systems of Apopka, Fla., provides for 184 units to be built at a cost of $9 million. The first unit was delivered in March, 2002.

New software and computers are also part of the modernization plan. Previously the TACPs were using paper maps. Putting their data on a computer generated map that constantly updates itself takes their maps and documentation and put it all into a computerized format. TACPs will know their location, the enemy’s location and they will also track incoming aircraft.

The computer and software will receive data from the laser range finder, and together with data on the computer and information transmitted via radio, will display a battlefield map along with accurate coordinates for enemy targets.
It’s sort of like air traffic control software, which sees the aircraft and tracks it on the map. The software requirements are being met by modifying an existing software product, Rosetta, manufactured by ANZUS Inc. of San Diego, CA, to meet the special needs of TACPs. Rosetta is currently being used by the Air Force, Navy and Army in other applications.

TACP members throughout the world supported U.S. Army units such as the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, the 24th Infantry Division, and the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment with their close air support (CAS) requirements. Enlisted Terminal Attack Controllers (ETACs) were also tasked to support multinational coalition forces including the French Foreign Legion, Saudi, Egyptian, Pakistani, Syrian, and Kuwaiti ground forces.

U.S. Army Ranger TACP members spearheaded the parachute invasion of Panama. In-country TACPs, supporting the 193rd Infantry were among the initial ground assault force. 82nd Airborne Division TACP members later parachuted into the invasion and were quickly followed by the 7th Infantry Division TACP air-land forces. Airstrikes were controlled by ETACs utilizing the AC-130 "Spectre" gunship, A-7, OA-37, and helicopter gunships.

TACP members from the U.S. Army Rangers spearheaded the invasion of Grenada. They were followed by members of the 82nd Airborne Division TACP. Enlisted TACP members controlled the bulk of the Close Air Support missions, which helped pave the way for the ETAC program.

TACP members have also been deployed in support of operation Restore Hope (Somalia), Operation Uphold Democracy (Haiti), and back to Kuwait..  Ranger TACPs Jumped into Afghanistan, and Special Forces TACPs roved the landscape in search of enemy.  MSgt S, a SOFTACP, has the highest BDA of any one man in theater.  SSgt V. took control of the forces on Roberts Ridge during the fight there.  Through his efforts, the surviving rangers still breath air today.  

Enlisted Terminal Attack Controller (ETAC -- pronounced E-TACK ) is a Tactical air party member who performs mission planning and provides final control of close air support aircraft in support of ground forces. Utilizing their knowledge of munitions and their first-hand view of the battle, the ETAC requests the right combination of firepower to eliminate the ground target without causing casualties to nearby friendly ground forces. Once the enemy target has been positively identified, it is marked using smoke or other marking methods. When all the conditions have been met for the incoming aircraft to deliver its ordnance, the ETAC gives the "cleared hot" signal to the pilot, and suddenly, it's a bad day for the enemy.

During combat operations, an Air Liaison Officer (ALO), Forward Air Controller (FAC) or Enlisted Terminal Attack Controller (ETAC) is normally available for control of close air support missions. These individuals are the only authorized Air Force personnel permitted to routinely control CAS missions in support of US Army units or other ground maneuver units, allied or joint, when attached. During emergency combat operations however, when these individuals are not available, a designated individual may direct attacking aircraft for close air support.

An article on the Techschool AETC Torch

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