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24th SOW re-designates 17th ASOS

  • Published
  • By Capt. Craig Savage
  • 24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
The 17th Air Support Operations Squadron was re-designated the 17th Special Tactics Squadron by Col. Robert Armfield, 24th Special Operations Wing commander, during a ceremony at Fort Benning, Ga., Aug. 8.

Most Tactical Air Control Party personnel deploy with conventional Army units, but the primary mission of the 17th STS is to provide special tactics TACPs to the Army's 75th Ranger Regiment for unconventional operations.

"With our men and women in the 17th ASOS assigned to the wing and focusing on special tactics, it made sense to align them with our other special tactics squadrons," Armfield said. "TACPs are an exceptional group of Airmen that possess the ability to operate in unconventional and joint environments."

Only a small handful of career fields earn the joint terminal attack controler qualification that signifies their capability to call for close air support from joint and coalition fixed-wing and forward-firing weaponry, such as rockets, bombs and strafing. Air Force JTACs are also qualified to coordinate artillery and naval surface fire support.

TACP is an Air Force career field while JTAC is a certification.

TACPs advise Army conventional and special operations ground maneuver commanders on the integration and execution of air and space power. Qualified individuals with the JTAC certification provide final air and ground specifics to pilots and weapons operators on inbound aircraft. This ensures the identification of friendly forces and specified targets while minimizing the risk to friendly ground forces and preventing unwanted collateral damage.

The term "party" in the name is derived from how they deploy. Typically, one senior enlisted TACP is accompanied by one or two mid-level TACPs. The senior member conducts most of the calls for fire while the other party members provide assistance.

In 2008, the 17 ASOS and its 61 TACPs were reassigned to the Special Tactics Airmen community. The move brought additional manpower, experience and the JTAC capability.

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