In the battle, a scout platoon from the 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, United States Army, 20 Afghan soldiers, and two United States Air Force Taps were ambushed by over 300 Taliban near the village of Do Ab. With assistance from close air support, the coalition forces repulsed the ambush, killing approximately 270 Taliban. Six GBU-38 munitions are dropped by a B-1B Lancer aircraft onto an insurgent torture house and prison in Northern Zambraniyah, Iraq, March 10, 2008.
The munitions drop was cleared by a USAF TAC from Fort Hood Texas, and deployed with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.USAF 1Z3X1 JTA Cs providing over-watch and close air support in Height, Afghanistan. The AOC is the senior TAGS agency responsible for the centralized control and decentralized execution of airpower in support of the Joint Force Commander.
The USAF/USA Memorandum requires the USAF to provide Air Liaison Officers, Battalion Air Liaison Officers, enlisted technicians (1Z3X1s) skilled in planning, requesting, and managing airpower resources, and 1Z3X1 Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTA Cs). JTA Cs are specially trained and certified airmen who provide terminal control of airpower, usually in the form of Close Air Support missions.
The TAP also provides USAF Intelligence, Space, Electronic Warfare, Weather, and other liaisons to the Army. These liaisons serve as USAF subject-matter experts within their areas of expertise and assist in planning and integrating these functions with their aligned Army unit.
Operationally, liaisons serve within a TAP aligned with an Army Brigade Combat Team (BCT), Division, or Corps. 1Z3X1s and Air Liaison Officers serve in Taps at Army echelons from battalion through corps.
Until 2015, initial AFC training for TAP Candidates took place at Herbert Field, FL, an annex of Elgin Air Force Base and home to Air Force Special Operations Command. Training was subsequently moved to the Medina Annex of Lack land Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX, where the initial selection and training for all Air Force Special Warfare career fields now takes place.
Graduates of the TAP schoolhouse (AFC 1Z3X1) attend USAF Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) School at Fair child AFB, WA, and Basic Airborne School at Ft. Benning, GA, and the Joint Terminal Attack Controller Qualification Course at Ellis AFB, NV, after which they are assigned to a TAP unit to undergo initial mission readiness training and skill level upgrade. 1Z3X1s are experts on man-portable, vehicle-mounted, and field-expedient communications and are trained in weapons and field craft, including navigation, individual and crew-served weapons systems, small unit tactics, demolitions, and Close Air Support tactics, techniques, and procedures (Tips).
As an unstated prerequisite to a career as a 1Z3X1, it is understood that 1Z3X1s live, train and deploy with U.S. Army combat units worldwide under some of the most demanding and difficult conditions in often very austere environments. Additionally, there are numerous ASOS within the Air National Guard that have actively participated in combat operations worldwide supporting the Global War on Terror since 9/11.
When assigned to a TAP, the mission of the 1Z3X1 is to advise and assist Army ground commanders and fire support officers in planning, integrating, requesting, and employing airpower consistent with Joint Army, and Air Force doctrine and tactics, techniques, and procedures. Because of their unique position in the USAF, which places enlisted airmen in positions of authority and responsibility normally placed on commissioned officers, 1Z3X1s must be thoroughly proficient in their specialty and experts on airpower and joint operations, while also possessing the skills and training necessary to seamlessly fit in with the joint service unit to which they are assigned.
During a TAP assignment, 1Z3X1s must continually possess a high degree of self-motivation, enthusiasm and a willingness to often operate as the lone airman in a joint team. Though challenging, a TAP assignment has its rewards: 1Z3X1s are uniquely afforded the opportunity to increase their knowledge, skills, and operator capabilities by attending Military Free fall, Air Assault, Pathfinder, Ranger, and Special Forces Combat Diver schools.
The SOC manages allotted air resources and executes missions supporting its aligned Army units. 1Z3X1s assigned to an SOC fill a vital role by receiving air support requests from forward deployed JTA Cs.
In 2008, following its transfer from Air Combat Command to Air Force Special Operations Command, the 17th ASOS (Ft. Benning, GA), which provided JTA Cs and Los to the 75th Ranger Regiment and its three-line battalions, was redesignated the 17th Special Tactics Squadron. TAP personnel at the 17th STS (and, in smaller numbers, at the four remaining active-duty BONUS Special Tactics Squadrons), provide terminal attack control and fire support expertise for the 75th Ranger Regiment's three Ranger Battalions and Regimental Reconnaissance Company, all seven Army Special Forces Groups, and multiple Navy SEAL Teams.
Taps who have successfully undergone screening and selection are also currently serving as Tier1 operators with the 24th STS. In 2005, then Captain Mark R. Wisher submitted an Innovative Development through Employee Awareness (IDEA) Report submission through the Air Force's IDEA program office based on his 2004 Master's Thesis which proposed the creation of a brand new non-rated ALO career field.
The IDEA program submission was staffed at Headquarters AF (HAD/A3O) for consideration and ultimately resulted in a HAF-funded RAND Report that was completed in 2008. The RAND report relied heavily on the previous research of Wisher, John Oliver, and Raymond Knox.
The RAND report ultimately concurred with Wisher's recommendation to create a non-rated ALO career field. The following year, the USAF created a new non-rated Air Liaison Officer AFC, 13L, to form a career force of professional Air Liaison Officers and the AF began the first beta class of non-rated Los in the summer of 2009.
Phase I involves completing an application and PAST that is submitted to a review board of TAP Officers. TOP involves one week of extensive testing and evaluation by TAP Cadre to see if candidates are capable of operating in the rigorous TACO career field.
Events at TOP include numerous written and psychological tests and interviews, Group Leadership Problems (GPS), long distance runs and ruck marches with combat gear and rigorous physical training. He or she provides subject expertise to lead, plan, and manage Command-and-Control and terminal execution of Air, Space, and Cyber operations in direct support of land component forces.
In 1979, the black beret was authorized for wear by enlisted personnel in the Tactical Air Control Party. In 1984, two airmen from Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina submitted the current flash and crest design.
Tactical Air Control Party specialists (AFC 1Z3X1) are currently the only United States Air Force specialty allowed to wear the coveted black beret as part of their daily duty uniform wear. TAP Officers (Tacos) are also authorized to wear the black beret after they graduate from the Basic ALO Skills Course (BASE), conducted at Ellis Air Force Base, Nevada.
At the bottom of the wings rests the TAP ordinary, representing the most forward element of the Theater Air Control System. The eight-point omnidirectional star symbolizes the worldwide mobility commitment of the TAP, as well as his ability to navigate over all terrain.
The scarlet border of the cloth flash symbolizes the immense firepower that can be brought to bear when Air Force and Army assets are combined. After graduating Basic Military Training, all enlisted 1C4X1 candidates are sent to Medina AFB, TX to attend a five-day indoctrination course.
Those candidates who successfully complete indoctrination attend the 85-day 1Z3X1 3-level (Apprentice) initial qualification training course at Lack land AFB, TX. The 3-level course was held at Herbert Field, Florida for 36 years prior to the July 2015 move to Texas.
Those who successfully complete the initial training course are awarded the “3” or “apprentice” skill level and then attend the USAF Survival School at Fair child AFB, WA. This relatively high rate is primarily attributed to the constant physical demands students face throughout the entire length of the course, with the difficulty level increasing until graduation.
The relentless physical demands combined with a challenging academic curriculum require constant focus on attention to detail. After one year of maintaining Combat Mission Ready (CMR) status and possessing the “5” or “journeyman” skill level, 1Z3X1s are eligible to attend the Joint Terminal Attack Controller qualification course at Ellis AFB, or if stationed in Germany or Italy, the SAFE Air-Ground Operations School.
USAF TAP candidates raise a pole during a team building exercise at Herbert Field, Fla., Aug. 10, 2011. An entry-level Physical ability and Stamina Test (PAST) test and a 4-mile timed ruck march must be successfully completed to pass the Indoctrination course and progress to the Initial Qualification Course at Lack land Air Force Base.
Also including training in bivouac setup, site selection, patrolling methods, and day and night navigation on foot and in a vehicle. Methods and means of requesting close air support, weapons effects and utilization, and other coordination procedures.
“Training Success for U.S. Air Force Special Operations and Combat Support Specialties: An Analysis of Recruiting, Screening, and Development Processes”.