TACP or Combat Controller? [Archive] - Glock Talk


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10-09-2008, 20:08
This is the first time posting to this forum within GT, so Hello! to all the AF people on Glocktalk. I am 26 and am just about done through MEPS (pending med clearance) looking to join the Washington ANG and am wondering if I could bug any past or current TACP's or Combat Controllers about their experiences and pro/cons of doing this line of work. My recruiter is not totally clear with all the TACP program has to offer and is about the same with the Combat Control side as well. Other than the websites I've visited I'm really curious to get some input. Thanks to all!


10-12-2008, 15:39
In my experience, the TACPs work much more closely with the Army than do the Combat Controllers. Additionally, IIRC, the CCTs have to be qualified as air traffic controllers. The primary job of the CCT is to set up drop zones and airstrips for immediate use for airland. Controlling an airstrike is something that they may do, but not necessarily their primary job. Also, IIRC all CCTs have to be airborne qualifed and get to go to a bunch of hooah schools which the TACPs may or may not go to depending on their particular assignment and desires.

The TACP (1C4 AFSC) is primarily there to work in the air liaison business with the Army doing whatever needs to be done to effect that liaison--from controlling a CAS strike, to requesting recconnaissance, to helping plan deep interdiction. Try googling ROMAD. Many of today's TACP enlisted personnel take affront at the term ROMAD from Viet Nam and perhaps even earlier, but it does describe what a junior enlisted 1C4 does a lot of, Radio Operator, Maintainer, and Driver. Several years ago, only "rated" officers (Air Liaison Officers--ALOs) could control an airstrike, but today, MOST of the qualified Terminal Attack Controllers are NCOs and most of the ALOs are in the Command Post advising the Army on employment of airpower. A new 1C4 would start out probably working with an experienced NCO 1C4 who is a JTAC (Joint Terminal Attack Controller) and after becoming experienced and attending some additional schooling, would himself become a JTAC. Eventually, as a senior NCO you would move up to working as an advisor like the ALOs (most of whom only do one or two tours out of the cockpit in this business--though there are some exceptions).

If you are going into the WAANG, are you going to the 111 ASOC? if so, that is another venue for 1C4s, working in the Air Support Operations Center. This is basically the net control for the Close Air Support Air Request Net and works the issue of assigning various flights of aircraft to support Army requests for air support. Normally, most 1C4s will have one or more tours in the ASOC during their career.

In most cases, being a TACP is being in the ARMY Air Force. Most active duty assignments are on Army Installations rather than Air Force Bases. When the Army goes to the field, you go to the field, when the Army has to carry a ton of c**p you will have to carry a ton and a half of c**p because you have to carry basically everything they carry plus the required radios to work the air request net. All that said, i enjoyed the almost 9 years I spent working with 1C4 TACP folks in an Air Support Operations Squadron & Group.

10-12-2008, 17:55
From what I understood from my recruiter, If I pursue TACP, I would be assigned the the 116th ASOS.

10-13-2008, 00:57
I agree on the Army Air Force thing.

We have some TACP on my base and they are their own little crew. Wearing a lot of nonstandard uniforms, about the only time you see them is on a ruck march around the perimeter, or rolling offbase to go do land nav (which they do a lot of).

The ones I ran into downrange were embedded with Army troops, wearing ACUs with USAF blue nametapes and rank (the only way I spotted them) because no matter how much the ABU "looks just like" ACUs, they don't look exactly alike, and that makes you sniper bait for standing out (as one of them told me).

If you go TACP/JTAC, you'd better like living in the field, and humping a LOT of crap. You're an airstrike controller who happens to live with the infantry much of the time.

10-13-2008, 01:02
Alot of what is steering me toward either of those career fields is that I just didn't was to do security forces. Of all the soldiers I've talked to, it seems to take a certain breed to stand doing that job. The TACP seem to have that allure I think I will like. My other motivation is the amount of training and drilling they seem to do as well. My thought growing up was if you arn't constantly learning, you're nothing but decaying matter.

10-13-2008, 07:41
I'm Security Forces. Have been nearly 3 years.

Be aware that failure from TACP/PJ/CCT generally means, you end up in Security Forces. Quite common, my training team leader was a ex-TACP candidate who made it around 70-80% of the way through. My fireteam leader was the "other" TACP almost-made-it and we also had a PJ-wannabe (he didn't even finish the water course, couldn't take being drowned).

My ex fireteam leader went to the 60th CRG, which in Security Forces is rather like Special Forces to the regular infantry. He's either in the field training on setting up "bare base" operations (pick a spot in the desert and build a base there, they drop you in with the Red Horse construction guys and you guard them while they build it) or something similar, or he's training other countries troops doing the same, or he's deployed. With six month on, six month off deployments, he's on his third go-around in Iraq.

It's not TACP but it keeps him busy and happy. Several other guys and girls I know including my old flight commander came out of one of the CRGs in Guam, and there's also the 820th and 796th (Moody, and in Germany) who get to do all the fun high-speed stuff (Airborne qualified, etc) also.

10-21-2008, 19:38
I'm former enlisted AF and current AF Civilian with 8 years total in the SOF community. The major difference is the roles TACP and CCT play. TACP's priary function is to get bombs on target. They are typically assigned to Army units, but generally "regular" units, at the company or brigade level. CCT's mission is to land and control aircraft in denied areas. They almost always work with SOF units. Both groups go through comparable training. TACP are more closely aligned with typical military life. CCT tend to be aloowed more freedom in exchange for having a more stressful mission. I worked with both in AFG and both groups were top notch professional airmen. In the end its all about what you want out of the AF.

On a side note, AF SOF tend to get less respect in joint commands because the AF operators tend to be more junior in rank and experience than their Army and Navy counterparts. The term "pop-tart" operator has been used more than once to describe our CCT and PJ's. I've worked several missions in which every team member was an E-6 and above and our CCT was an E-4.

10-22-2008, 06:21
Josh, I left the 116th in 1999. I loved my time in TACP although it was all peacetime mission stuff. Things change that summer morning in 2001. The boys have been busy. If you are joining the ANG, the 116th is your only hope for the HSLD stuff because there are no STS units in state.

Lots of good info here so there's not much I can add. However, the unit you are looking at has seen it's share of top notch guys who have gone on to work in theater, work under fire and earned silver and bronze stars, purple hearts and all sorts of commendations.

Make sure your ass is top notch physically fit. The schoolhouse does not like fat guard types slogging down the program although they have no issues with guard guys in general, just fat bodies.

Pop over to www.romad.com and take a look at what is posted there.

Best of luck to you. I'd offer more but I have been out a long time. And if you come across Tyvan, tell the knuckledragger to look my fat cop butt up.

10-22-2008, 18:18
I've been in and out of romad.com and love what i'm seeing so far. I picked up a few of the commercialized "spec ops fitness" books to get my goals and ass in gear for what I am hoping is my trip to Basic this coming May. I'm 6'2" and 170 so I'm about as far from fat as I can get. Still pending med clearance though.....Thanks to all for the input and just to keep the thread going, I would love to continue to hear the stories and experiences of this career. Thanks again!


10-28-2008, 04:13
Have the strength to go with the trim figure. Nothing like rucking around the swamps of Eglin humping 60-120# of ruck, kit and radios. Plus when you get real world, getting the same.

It's an experience and if you exploit it right, you can go very far and do very well, both in the Guard and outside in the civi world.

Good luck to you.

10-30-2008, 16:17
josh, i used to be in the af but i switched to the army (HOOAH). while in the af i looked into becoming a combat rescue officer (its the combined combat control and pararescue officer afsc). when i couldnt get the info i wanted from my command, internet, etc i did this you should too...

contact an afsoc (af special ops command) recuiter. he'll be able to square you away and answer any questions you may have. he also might give you a reality check (that was the best info he gave me).

email: afsoc.pa@hurlburt.af.mil and you'll be contacted by a Special Tactics Recruitment Liaison.

good luck!

10-30-2008, 16:19
Capt: He's Guard, not AD. Big difference as there are few and far STS groups in the Guard and reserve system. AFSOC won't help much if he's not AD.

10-30-2008, 20:43
Capt: He's Guard, not AD. Big difference as there are few and far STS groups in the Guard and reserve system. AFSOC won't help much if he's not AD.
yes i understand he wants to be guard and not AD... but he's asking about the pro/cons of each afsc./carrer path. the individual jobs are the same regardless of guard or AD. and the pipeline (training) is identical for both afsc.

josh, if you want info thats your best bet. they even might be able to give you contact info for a guard unit. like the guard STS unit thats at mcchord afb, washington. and if you just want to know the difference... look at aduke05's posting, its concise and dead on target.

J. Pierce
11-09-2008, 22:59
Have you been down to the 116th to talk to them? If you ask your recruiter, they should be able to hook you up with a tour and you can talk to some of the guys that you'd be working with. There are no CCT units in the WA ANG but there is a Pararescue Squadron down in Portland. There are also 1C4 positions in the 111th as well and the state is always looking for people to fill TACP positions. I've been in the WA ANG for the past 13 years and although not in a high speed unit, I may be able to answer some questions for you. Just drop me a PM.