TACPs Role in the Future

Joemamma234

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Greetings, gentlemen. I'll cut straight to the chase.
On a several year old thread on ArmyRanger.com (not sure if I'm allowed to link it), a TACP raised some concerns he had over the future of the TACP career field. He stated that with technological advancements, TACPs are moving more towards JTACing digitally from a TOC.
On other forums, TACPs have raised concerns that they are lacking in tactical skills, with commanders saying they are controllers, and don't need to focus on tactical skills.
If this information is valid, I would be concerned about pursuing this career. My understanding was that TACPs are directly embedded/attached with the Army unit they are supporting.
Is this not the case anymore? Are TACPs moving away from the battlefield and more into a command post type operating environment? Thank you all for taking the time to help me with this matter.
 

AWP

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Greetings, gentlemen. I'll cut straight to the chase.
On a several year old thread on ArmyRanger.com (not sure if I'm allowed to link it), a TACP raised some concerns he had over the future of the TACP career field. He stated that with technological advancements, TACPs are moving more towards JTACing digitally from a TOC.
On other forums, TACPs have raised concerns that they are lacking in tactical skills, with commanders saying they are controllers, and don't need to focus on tactical skills.
If this information is valid, I would be concerned about pursuing this career. My understanding was that TACPs are directly embedded/attached with the Army unit they are supporting.
Is this not the case anymore? Are TACPs moving away from the battlefield and more into a command post type operating environment? Thank you all for taking the time to help me with this matter.
They are still in the field, still with the troops, still killing people with airpower. That isn't changing anytime soon.
 

AlphaVictor

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Everything you have said is a valid concern and is certainly the case for some of the community. One of the most toxic mindsets in our career field is the "you're a controller, not a shooter" and my personal favorite "if you're using your rifle you're wrong" that many of the old heads still cling to. It is the very essence of what keeps us from being truly SOF, our unwillingness to train across the full spectrum of warrior skills and capabilities. Most of us are severely lacking in patrolling and small unit tactics except for those who are Ranger grads or transplants from the Army/Marine infantry, thus we get trained on these skills by other TACPs who lack in this department.

Controlling via the TOC is very commonplace and there is sort of a trend towards it now more than ever, however I don't forsee the complete eradication of the company-level JTAC in favor of TOC controlling. If the manpower exists to send a guy out forward with a team, that will usually be the case. Controlling from the TOC is more for a case where you have multiple teams out and only 1 JTAC to service them, so he will use timely and accurate targeting data provided to him by those teams to control air in their battle space from a remote location. We do not prefer this method, but you cannot argue against its effectiveness. Additionally, JTACs may find themselves in a strike cell with various big wigs prosecuting targets outside of a traditional CAS role. These are all possibilities, and the real moral of the story is that as a JTAC you may fill any of these roles, as the military views JTACs as largely interchangeable, so you need to be able to do it all.
 

Joemamma234

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@AlphaVictor Thank you for the response, sir. It was very informative. Slightly shifting focus, I was hoping to get you opinion as a TACP.

1. If I wanted to be closer to the action, so to speak, would you recommend the 13F mos in the Army, specifically in the 75th Ranger Regiment? 13F seems to have a similar mission as TACP. I understand there are some differences, with TACPs generally having greater authority to control air assets. 13F in 75th RR would presumably also have a greater focus on tactical skills? Is this an option you would pursue if you were to enter the military today, knowing what you know now?

2. Is there a different reason one would choose to be a part of Air Force Special Warfare as a TACP? Is there a benefit to being part of Air Force Special Warfare as opposed to the special operations commands from other branches?
 

AlphaVictor

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1) The question is, what is it that you want to do in the Regiment? The 17th STS provides JTAC support for the Ranger Regiment. If you want to be their JTAC, come be a TACP and assess for SOF. If you want to be a door kicker, go be an 11B. As their JTAC or even as a 13F you are not expected to be in front kicking in doors. That's not to say it doesn't happen, but you will likely be next to the ground force commander (JTAC) or in a FIST cell (13F). Your JTAC is likely going to control every asset that goes boom, however I have heard nothing but great things about Ranger 13Fs and even know of some that have gone through JTACQC. If I could do it over again, I'd go be an 11B with a Ranger contract. JTAC or 13F is not really a transferrable skill, so if you're worried about trying to be "more than just a grunt" for civilian purposes after the military I can go ahead and tell you TACP ain't going to get you any further than being an 11B in Regiment unless you like sim/sensor operator jobs.

2) As a TACP? Not really, unless you want to be a part of the only Special Warfare job that the Air Force goes out of their way to remind that they are the "Conventional" component to Special Warfare. On the active duty side you'll live on Army bases and not even know you're in the Air Force. On the Guard side it's a pretty sweet gig. You'll go TDY a lot, and get treated pretty well. When it comes to actually being a JTAC in country, you may have a lot of opportunities because much to the Air Force's surprise, nobody else seems to care that we're "conventional". AFSPECWAR as a whole serves as attachments and enablers to the other branches, if you want to be a part of a fighting force with the ability to run unilateral missions, your best bet is to go to one of those branches. But man for man, we bring an immense amount of capability to the battlefield, possibly more so than any other individual, which is why we are used as such.
 

Arf

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@AlphaVictor yesterday we talked privately about the difference between a CCT and. TACP. You mentioned that CCTs often get to go to JTAC school because it makes sense to couple their skills with communicating with aircraft with a JTAC school.

JTAC or 13F is not really a transferrable skill, so if you're worried about trying to be "more than just a grunt" for civilian purposes after the military I can go ahead and tell you TACP ain't going to get you any further than being an 11B in Regiment unless you like sim/sensor operator jobs.

1. Do you see CCT guys take jobs at airports as air traffic controllers?

2. What jobs do TACPs end up doing in the civilian side? Is there anything that is open to TACPs that is not offered to other JTACs?
 

Devildoc

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This is a fascinating thread. I really like these as they invariably open my eyes to areas often never seen or about which little is known (by me).

@Arf , I have a friend who was a CTT until...2005? Maybe 2006. He got out to be a civilian ATC; he's in eastern NC at a small airport, but makes HUGE money. He had told me the training/deployment cycles were exhausting, and hid kids were growing up and he didn't want to miss their childhoods. I would imagine but don't know that it is an easy transition if they (CCT) want it. I am also curious to know if more pursue this.
 

AlphaVictor

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@AlphaVictor yesterday we talked privately about the difference between a CCT and. TACP. You mentioned that CCTs often get to go to JTAC school because it makes sense to couple their skills with communicating with aircraft with a JTAC school.




1. Do you see CCT guys take jobs at airports as air traffic controllers?

2. What jobs do TACPs end up doing in the civilian side? Is there anything that is open to TACPs that is not offered to other JTACs?
1) I don't know of any personally, but I'm sure it happens. I believe they would need to get their tower rating, but don't quote me on that because I am not sure. In fact, I know of a TACP who works as a civilian ATC, because he cross trained into TACP from ATC in the Air Force, but TACP doesn't really apply to ATC on its own.

2) There wouldn't be many opportunities that I can think of open only to TACPs and not to JTACs from other branches. I had a retired SEAL JTAC instructor at JTACQC. Most of the job opportunities are going to be contracting type jobs, either as a sensor operator or a JTAC sim operator at a unit. Also, JTAC instructor positions throughout the DOD, either teaching at a schoolhouse or training flight crews on their CAS integration upgrade. Basically your job outlook is just working for the government in a civilian capacity, albeit for more money than you made as a service member. On the Guard side, many guys work these jobs while serving as a TACP/JTAC.
 

DasBoot

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@AlphaVictor yesterday we talked privately about the difference between a CCT and. TACP. You mentioned that CCTs often get to go to JTAC school because it makes sense to couple their skills with communicating with aircraft with a JTAC school.




1. Do you see CCT guys take jobs at airports as air traffic controllers?

2. What jobs do TACPs end up doing in the civilian side? Is there anything that is open to TACPs that is not offered to other JTACs?
I think it’s more likely a CCT with his JTAC qual with find more gainful employment in the contracting realm- whether that’s operational or at a school house. Lots of civilian instructor positions out there and a good deal of overseas jobs for guys with those same qualifications.

. If I wanted to be closer to the action, so to speak, would you recommend the 13F mos in the Army, specifically in the 75th Ranger Regiment? 13F seems to have a similar mission as TACP. I understand there are some differences, with TACPs generally having greater authority to control air assets. 13F in 75th RR would presumably also have a greater focus on tactical skills? Is this an option you would pursue if you were to enter the military today, knowing what you know now?
@Joemamma234 FIST (13F) have a good time in regiment. While you’re not likely to be clearing rooms, you will be out working with the guys going out on all the training events and (if a new war picks up) hitting targets with the platoon you support. Regiment has the support of 17th STS TACPs who are all JTACs. Not all 13Fs are JTACs- or at least don’t start out as them. Once you’ve earned your Tab and have made your E5, you will go to SOTACC and become a fully certified JTAC. The upside of being a Ranger 13F? You’re still a Ranger. There is none of the “LOL POGS” nonsense at Batt. If you’re here and going into the fight you’re a Ranger. You can also eventually earn the same qualifications as the TACPs. Downside you’re in the Army, and will deal with the Big Army shit even we can’t avoid.
 
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DA SWO

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1) I don't know of any personally, but I'm sure it happens. I believe they would need to get their tower rating, but don't quote me on that because I am not sure. In fact, I know of a TACP who works as a civilian ATC, because he cross trained into TACP from ATC in the Air Force, but TACP doesn't really apply to ATC on its own.

2) There wouldn't be many opportunities that I can think of open only to TACPs and not to JTACs from other branches. I had a retired SEAL JTAC instructor at JTACQC. Most of the job opportunities are going to be contracting type jobs, either as a sensor operator or a JTAC sim operator at a unit. Also, JTAC instructor positions throughout the DOD, either teaching at a schoolhouse or training flight crews on their CAS integration upgrade. Basically your job outlook is just working for the government in a civilian capacity, albeit for more money than you made as a service member. On the Guard side, many guys work these jobs while serving as a TACP/JTAC.
TACP's were radio experts (I say were because I retired and lost touch with my TACP friends).
Harris was a common post TACP employer "back in the day".

I don't know too many CCT that went to the FAA as a Air Traffic Controller. FAA wasn't keen on military ATC certs, and that turned a lot of folks off.
 

Cookie_

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It may be because I'm in Colorado, but of the 3 former JTACs I've met (one TACP two 13F) they were all wildland Fire fighters who had/were working towards positions coordinating water drops.
 

AlphaVictor

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TACP's were radio experts (I say were because I retired and lost touch with my TACP friends).
Harris was a common post TACP employer "back in the day".

I don't know too many CCT that went to the FAA as a Air Traffic Controller. FAA wasn't keen on military ATC certs, and that turned a lot of folks off.
That's a good point about radio jobs, I forgot about that. Met a retired TACP recently who works as a sales rep for Warriorpak. Those jobs are definitely out there. Also, if you get your TS clearance there may be additional opportunities available to you in both the public and private sectors.
 
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AWP

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A CCT is unlikely to find employment as an ATC overseas. Not saying it won't happen, but I spent 10+ years on an ATC contract in Afghanistan and we employed 0 CCT's.
 

Joemamma234

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This thread helped me out a lot, gentlemen. This deepened my understanding in some areas and disillusioned others.
Thank you all for your service. I appreciate my freedom.
 
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AlphaVictor

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This thread helped me out a lot, gentlemen. This deepened my understanding in some areas and disillusioned others.
Thank you all for your service. I appreciate my freedom.
If you have any more specific TACP questions, feel free to message me directly.
 
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AWP

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@AlphaVictor, in broad UNCLASS terms, how would you say technology has advanced or changed your field? How how has that shaped or changed how TACP's are used in the field vice a BN/ BDE/ ASOS?

I ask because I work with a TAC C2 organization that deals directly with ASOS' in CENTCOM, so I can see that side of the business model. I'm curious how all of that ties together and the future of the career field (since that seems to be the gist of this thread).
 

SmokinOkie

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It may be because I'm in Colorado, but of the 3 former JTACs I've met (one TACP two 13F) they were all wildland Fire fighters who had/were working towards positions coordinating water drops.

Would you happen to know what the exact job description or job code that was? If so could we DM?, I don't want to derail this thread more than I already might be.
I'm a ANG TACP looking into wildland firefighting to fill the gaps between guard bumming, it'd be much appreciated. Cheers.
 

Cookie_

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Would you happen to know what the exact job description or job code that was? If so could we DM?, I don't want to derail this thread more than I already might be.
I'm a ANG TACP looking into wildland firefighting to fill the gaps between guard bumming, it'd be much appreciated. Cheers.
I don't, sorry. Those were just guys I met in passing living out here.

I think our new Fires NCO is a wildland firefighter though, so I can ask when I see him next.
 
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