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The Tactical Air Control Party, commonly abbreviated TACP, is a small team of air force or marine personnel who provide airspace deconfliction and terminal control of close air support at battle group level or below. It usually consists of an officer Forward Air Controller (FAC), a SNCO FAC and usually a pair of signallers/drivers.
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In the United Kingdom Armed Forces TACP personnel may come from the Royal Marines, Army or RAF Regiment Every TACP has four members, one officer and one SNCO who are trained Forward Air Controllers. Two signallers (JNCOs) who are responsible for communication equipment and assist in tasking aircraft to FACs in forward positions. The FAC's role is to guide attack aircraft and fast jets to the correct target by providing descriptions and locations to the pilots via a range of telecommunications equipment.
FACs and TACPs in the United Kingdom are trained at the Joint Forward Air Controller Training Standards Unit (JFACTSU).
A USAF TACP, is usually a team of two or more United States Air Force enlisted TACP journeymen or craftsmen (AFSC 1C4X1) aligned with a conventional or special operational United States Army combat maneuver unit to advise ground commanders on the best use of air power, establish and maintain command and control communications, and provide precision terminal attack guidance of U.S. and coalition fixed-wing and rotary-wing close air support aircraft, artillery, and naval gunfire. A TACP always includes at least one Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) qualified to control attack aircraft. It can also include an Air Liaison Officer (ALO), an Air Force commissioned officer who is typically aeronautically rated as a pilot or navigator/combat systems officer in fighter or attack aircraft who is often JTAC qualified and serves in a senior advisor capacity. A small number of non-rated officers, typically with special tactics backgrounds, have also been qualified as ALOs. JTAC teams are primarily stationed with and support Army combat units.
Traditional Marine Corps infantry battalions each have a Forward Air Controller (FAC), who is a Marine Corps Naval Aviator or Naval Flight Officer acting liaison between their fighter/attack jets and/or attack helicopters and the infantry battalion. A Marine Corps FAC (7502 MOS) is commonly referred to as the Air Officer. Underneath him, he has two other FACs and three Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs - 8002 MOS). Ideally the three FACs (including the Air Officer) come from three different aviation backgrounds: one tactical jet pilot or NFO (F/A-18 or AV-8B), one tactical helicopter pilot (AH-1W or UH-1Y), and one assault support pilot (CH-46, CH-53, KC-130 or MV-22). Ideally, the three JTACs come from an artillery background (Forward Observer - 0861 MOS).
In addition to the three FACs and three JTACs, the infantry battalion also has eight Joint Fires Observers (JFOs) distributed among the rifle companies.
608 Tactical Air Control Party, or 608 TACP as it is known in the Corps, is part of RMR Merseyside. Every TACP has four members, including one officer, whose role is described in the Forward Air Controller section. RMR Merseyside trains personnel at both the Manchester and Liverpool Detachments to be part of the TACP. The role of this small team is to provide accurate descriptions and locations of targets, and indicate those targets using laser technology, to fast jets and other attack aircraft carrying a wide variety of weaponry.
The RAF Regiment provides both a Flight and a TACP to the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG). Specially selected Officers and Gunners operate at a high operational tempo in direct support of UK Special Forces operations worldwide.
After brief in-theatre training he catches a flight directly to FOB Dwyer. He takes up his place in the TACP working under the direct command of battlegroup Battery Commander Major Andrew Dimmock of the Royal Artillery.
This 3 month deployment has shown that it is perfectly possible for Prince Harry to be employed just the same as other Army officers of his rank and experience. His role as the commander of the Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) in charge of the Household Cavalry Regiment Battlegroup Forward Air Controllers (FAC) is one that he had trained for last year. As such, he was responsible for the logistical resupply of the Battlegroup by air, surveillance of the area by both manned and unmanned aircraft and protection tasks which includes controlling aircraft onto their targets.
In the bitter cold and wind of the North Yorkshire Moors, a group of soldiers, Royal Marines and others are learning how to call in air-strikes and become 'forward air controllers' on the front lines in Afghanistan.