An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

TACP connects Army to Airpower in Afghanistan

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford
  • 455th AEW/PA

When an Army unit is outside the wire in Afghanistan you will most likely find a Joint Terminal Attack Controller qualified Tactical Air Control Party Airman attached to them to provide a direct link to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing combat airpower flying overhead.

This happened recently when Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment (Iron Rakkasans), 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), went outside the wire to support a NATO Resolute Support Train Advise Assist Command-Air mission. Along with the Soldiers was a TACP Airman assigned to the 817th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron who was in direct contact with the airpower flying overhead in case it was needed.

“We ended up having F-16s check on to provide over watch during the mission,” said Senior Airman Grant Haefke, 817th EASOS TACP JTAC. “Once they got on, we had them scan the high ground around us, because this would be the most likely point that we could get hit from.”

Having a JTAC attached during outside the wire missions is important because they provide the Soldiers with the critical link to Close Air Support and can integrate CAS with other forms of fire support in order to meet the ground force commander’s intent, shape the battlefield and mitigate the risk of fratricide.

“Without JTACs there would be no way of getting effects (munitions) down on the ground,” said Haefke. “There was a Joint Fires Observer and they are capable of performing emergency CAS, but it is much more timely and effective to have a JTAC to get effects on the ground.”

Even though no ordinance was dropped from the F-16’s while they were providing over watch, the mission was valuable to Haefke because it enabled him to keep his proficiency up while in a combat environment.

“Anytime a JTAC gets to talk to aircraft it’s good because it gives us practice’” said Haefke. “The biggest challenges we face in Afghanistan as JTACs is becoming complacent. Anytime you can get outside the wire and talk to aircraft it is better than sitting on the base.”