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What is Tactical Air Control Party (TACP)? – The Answer and More

Written by Everett Bledsoe / Fact checked by Brain Bartell

what is tactical air control party

ACP stands for Tactical Air Control Party, a specialized U.S. Air Force unit coordinating air support in combat operations.

What is tactical air control party? Composed of highly trained personnel, TACPs work alongside Army and Marine Corps units to provide crucial communication and coordination between ground forces and aircraft.

They facilitate close air support, control airstrikes, and assist in directing artillery fire.

TACPs play a critical role in joint operations, enabling effective and precise application of air assets on the battlefield.

What is a Tactical Air Control Party?


The Tactical Air Control Party, or TACP, is a specialized USAF unit. This unit controls air assets for ground combat support. TACPs are the vital connection between ground forces and airpower for Army and Marine Corps units.

1. What does TACP do?


The main job of this specialized unit is to manage and coordinate close air support (CAS) missions. These missions involve guiding fighter jets to attack nearby enemy targets while protecting friendly forces.

TACPs in miltary identify targets, communicate with pilots, and guide strikes. They also coordinate other air support like reconnaissance, surveillance, and airlift operations. Their duties are all in line with the official TACP motto “The Strong Shall Stand, The Weak Will Fall by the Wayside.”

2. TACP history


TACP units originated in WWII as Air Liaison Parties (ALPs) in 1941. They were air force teams that worked with the Army to coordinate air-ground operations. ALPs became modern TACPs with improved training, abilities, and gear.

This USAF unit was vital in directing airstrikes and supporting ground troops during the Korean War. They proved effective in later conflicts like Vietnam and the Gulf War. TACP plays a significant role in military operations like Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

3. Is TACP special forces?


Special Forces are not TACP. USAF TACPs are responsible for coordinating the use of air power in ground combat. They work closely with the Army and the Marines to bridge the gap between the ground and the air.

Special Forces, meanwhile, are military troops trained to engage in unconventional forms of conflict, such as direct action and guerilla warfare. For the United States military, the term “Special Forces” applies exclusively to the Army’s Green Berets.



Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) members receive specialized training, and Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) receive certification.

Airspace control and fire support coordination are two primary focuses of the Joint Tactical Air Controller certification. Meanwhile, TACPs get more education to conduct operations on a bigger scale.

  • While all TACPs meet the minimum requirements to serve as JTACs, not all JTACs have completed the additional training needed to become TACPs.

The Impact of TACP on Military Combat

  • TACPs improve combat through better situational awareness, target acquisition, and air support effectiveness.
  • TACPs gather and share battlefield intel with ground and air units for heightened situational awareness.
  • TACPs aid ground forces in pinpointing targets and directing airpower. TACPs and aircrews collaborate to improve airstrike precision, minimizing collateral damage and civilian casualties.
  • TACPs improve air support by connecting ground forces and aircraft through communication and synchronization. 
  • TACPs excel in dynamic and fast-paced environments. Flexible air assets can quickly assist ground forces in response to emerging threats or urgent requests.

Qualifications and Requirements for a TACP Officer

1. TACP air force requirements:


  • Citizenship in the United States is necessary.
  • There is a minimum age requirement of 21 to join the AirForce as a TACP officer.
  • Bachelor’s degree from a recognized university is required.
  • Officers need to have graduated from either the Air Force Academy or Officer Training School.
  • Must have earned a commission as an Air Force Second Lieutenant.
  • At least G49 is the required ASVAB score for TCAP.

2. TACP physical requirements:


  • Officers in the TACP program must be physically fit enough to join the Air Force, which includes passing the PFA (Physical Fitness Assessment).
  • Exercises included in the PFA are timed runs, crunches, and push-ups. You can find the particular requirements on the Air Force’s website.

3. TACP qualifications


  • Ability to lead effectively and to make snap judgments under duress.
  • Superior ability to communicate and connect with people.
  • Strength of body and mind.
  • Teamwork skills are a must.
  • Openness to deployment and operation in a range of conditions.

Training Requirements for TACP Personnel

Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) requires extensive training to ensure they are fully prepared for their duties.

1. TACP training program:


Multiple levels of TACP training help students acquire the knowledge and abilities they need to succeed on the job.

TACP Initial Skills Training (IST) is the first stage of training, and it is conducted at the TACP School near Hurlburt Field, Florida.

2. TACP training length:


The TACP military training school length varies from one training program to the next and even from one person to another, depending on their position within the TACP.

There are about 95 training days in the IST program.

3. Preparations before entering the pipeline:


Physical Fitness: Before beginning training, TACP candidates must be in peak physical condition.

Mental Preparedness: TACP hopefuls need to be ready for demanding instruction and intense pressure.

Familiarizing with Job Description: Prospective Staff at the TACP should be aware of the importance of their involvement in ground operations and the coordination and control of air assets.

4. TACP training pipeline


TACP operators undergo a multi-phase training pipeline. At Hurlburt Field, Florida’s TACP School, candidates begin their training. TACP Initial Skills Training (IST) teaches combat, communication, and small unit tactics.

After IST, cadets go to Advanced Skills Training (AST) to learn close air support coordination, air assault, and JTAC procedures.

Mission qualification concludes the training TACP pipeline.

5. TACP locations:


Where can TACP be stationed? Usually,  TACP operators can be stationed worldwide based on Air Force needs after training.

TACP personnel support ground operations with tactical air control at Air Force bases, Army installations, or Marine Corps units.

  • TACP vs ITAC Locations-  ITAC personnel train and gain experience at Air Force bases with qualified TACP operators. Qualified TACP operators, meanwhile, can be deployed to various locations as needed.
  • Air National Guard TACP Locations – The TACP units are spread out around the country. TACP units are housed at the following Air National Guard bases, though their precise locations may vary:
    • Berry Field Air National Guard Base, Tennessee
    • Camp Murray, Washington
    • Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania
    • Fort Richardson, Alaska
    • Reno, Nevada

Frequently Asked Questions


Is there an age limit for TACP officers?

The age limit for applicants varies with each funding agency. The minimum legal age for each funding mechanism is detailed below:

  •  Training School (OTS):

OTS applicants must be no more than 39 years old.

  • U.S. Air Force Academy:

The maximum age for admission to the United States Air Force Academy is 23 years old.

What happens during the TACP recruiting process?

Candidates for the position of Air Force Tactical Air Control Party Officer are subjected to a battery of exams and interviews to determine their viability for the position.

The first thing you should do if you’re interested in becoming a TACP officer is get in touch with an Air Force recruiter.

What is the TACP Air Force Salary?

Officers in the United States Air Force tactical air control party (TACP) receive pay that varies by rank and length of service. The most up-to-date Defense Department pay scales should be consulted for wage details.

TACP Washout Rate and Death Rate

No publicly available data exists on the mortality or attrition rates of TACP trainees. However, TACP training is notorious for being physically and emotionally taxing.

The course is meant to weed out those who don’t have what it takes to be a TACP operator and prepare those who do.


Ground operations would not be possible without the Tactical Air Control Party (TACP). Air asset coordination is a vital part of any mission, and that’s what is tactical air control party.

As a result of their extensive training, TACPs are ready to handle any emergency. They begin with the first stage of the training pipeline and continue in many different countries throughout the world.

Modern warfare cannot function without TACP members. The success of ground operations relies on their abilities and dedication.

Read more: Other military terms like SSE, TOC and etc.

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