USAF Tactical Air Control Parties are teams of 2 or more Tactical Air Command and Control specialists (1C4X1) assigned to conventional Army units and Special Operations Forces. Tactical Air Controllers frequently deploy alongside Special Forces and Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, Delta, and DEVGRU operators.
The primary role of the TACP is to advise, assist and control the use of close air support assets.
As a Forward Air Controller (FAC), the TACP calls in close air support in the form of bombs, missiles, rockets, and strafing fire from attack aircraft, sometimes near friendly ground units. The FAC role is carried by enlisted airmen known as Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs).
TACPs also pass on their expertise to other units and advise ground commanders on the use of airpower. This role is usually carried out by an Air Liaison Officer (ALO). ALOs are typically qualified USAF aviators.
17th Air Support Operations Squadron (17th ASOS)
From October 2008, the 720th Special Tactics Group, Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), includes a dedicated TACP squadron, namely the 17th Air Support Operations Squadron (17th ASOS) of around 60 special operations forces Tactical Air Control Party Airmen and support staff. JTACs with the 17th ASOS deploy with the 75th Ranger Regiment.
Since 2011, the 17th Air Support Operations Squadron has Operating Locations (OLs) aligned solely with the 75th Ranger Regiment, having previously also had OLs with the active-duty Special Forces Groups (1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 10th).
The 17th ASOS has several Operating Locations (OL):
- HQ element, based at Fort Benning, Georgia, supporting the 3/75th Ranger Battalion, the RSTB
- OL-E, based at Fort Lewis, Washington, supporting the 2/75th Ranger Battalion
- OL-A, based at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, supporting the 1/75th Ranger Battalion
13th Air Support Operations Squadron
The United States Air Force’s 13th Air Support Operations Squadron (13 ASOS) is a combat support unit located at Fort Carson, Colorado. The 13 ASOS provides tactical command and control of close air support assets to US Army ground commanders during combat operations.
The 13 ASOS’s mission is to successfully integrate joint firepower, including artillery, attack aviation, and naval gunfire, to support Army operations worldwide.
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