The Air Force has activated a formal training unit for Tactical Air Control Party airmen at the Medina Annex of Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas.
Air Education and Training Command said in a news release that Detachment 2, 6th Combat Training Squadron, which stood up Thursday, will “synchronize, standardize and streamline training” for TACPs, and foster unity throughout the career field.
TACP specialists embed with Army units on the front lines of combat, where they direct air and artillery strikes. They are highly trained and undergo intense physical, mental and technical training to call in strikes under intense combat conditions.
“It is evident that as the battlefield changes and our adversaries increase their capabilities, so must the TACP,” the unit’s commander, Capt. Daniel Hill, said in the release. “The activation of this unit will increase readiness and lethality of the Air Force special warfare TACP, and optimize advanced skills training and education to ensure a full spectrum, high end and fully qualified focused force ready to meet combatant commander’s requirements.”
The new TACP-focused unit will speed up the training process dramatically, from 18 months to 21 weeks, AETC said. This will also allow the Air Force to produce 270 fully qualified TACP operators annually, as opposed to 220 partially qualified TACPs per year.
The unit will take on the duty of initial qualification TACP training, freeing operational units from that responsibility, AETC said. This will save a significant amount of time, which could be better spent on combat readiness and airman proficiency, the Air Force said.
The new unit will standardize advanced skills and mission qualification training, AETC said, putting all the training and qualification up-front.
“Ultimately, this stand-up is going to produce lethal and more survivable joint terminal attack controllers … for combatant commanders to make their decisions and be able to utilize in the future,” said Lt. Col. James Kappes, operations officer for the 6th, in the release.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.