Combat Controller vs TACP: What’s the Difference?
If you’re interested in serving in the United States Air Force, you’ve likely come across the terms Combat Controller and TACP. These two jobs are both part of the Air Force Special Warfare career field, and while they share some similarities, there are also some key differences between the two. In this article, we’ll compare and contrast these two jobs, so you can get a better idea of which one might be the right fit for you.
What is a Combat Controller?
A Combat Controller (CCT) is a highly trained airman who specializes in air traffic control, as well as combat search and rescue operations. They are essentially the Air Force’s version of a combat controller, responsible for directing air traffic in and out of combat zones, as well coordinating with ground forces and helping to rescue wounded soldiers.
Combat controllers are trained to operate in all types of environments, including desert, jungle, mountainous, and urban areas. They also receive extensive training in weapons handling, small unit tactics, and other combat-related skills.
To become a Combat Controller, you must complete the Combat Control selection course, which is one of the most difficult and demanding training programs in the military. Only the top candidates will be selected to attend this training, which lasts nearly two years.
What is a TACP?
A TACP (Tactical Air Control Party) is also a highly trained airman, but their focus is more on working with ground forces to coordinate air support during combat operations. Essentially, a TACP is a liaison between the Air Force and the Army or Marine Corps, helping to direct air support to where it’s needed most.
TACPs are typically attached to Army or Marine Corps units, and work closely with those units to identify targets, request air support, and make sure that the right aircraft are hitting the right targets. They may also be involved in search and rescue operations, and other types of missions that require close coordination between the air and ground forces.
To become a TACP, you must pass the rigorous TACP selection course, which is also known for its high attrition rate. The training lasts several months and includes extensive physical and mental training, as well as specialized training in fields such as air support, weapons handling, and small unit tactics.
Differences between Combat Controllers and TACPs
While both Combat Controllers and TACPs are part of the Air Force Special Warfare career field and work closely with ground forces, there are some key differences between these two jobs.
First and foremost, the primary focus of Combat Controllers is on air traffic control and combat search and rescue operations. They are responsible for ensuring that aircraft are able to take off and land in a combat zone, as well as coordinating with ground forces to rescue wounded soldiers.
TACPs, on the other hand, are primarily focused on coordinating air support for ground forces. They work closely with Army or Marine Corps units to identify targets, request air support, and make sure that the right aircraft are hitting the right targets.
Another key difference between these two jobs is the type of training they receive. Combat Controllers receive extensive training in air traffic control and rescue operations, as well as combat-related skills such as weapons handling and small unit tactics. TACPs, on the other hand, receive specialized training in fields such as air support and weapons handling, but may not be as focused on rescue operations.
Which One is Right for You?
Ultimately, the choice between Combat Controller and TACP comes down to your skills, interests, and career goals. If you’re interested in air traffic control and rescue operations, and want to work in a variety of different environments, Combat Control may be the right choice for you. If you’re more interested in working closely with ground forces and coordinating air support during combat operations, TACP may be the better choice.
That being said, both of these jobs are incredibly demanding and require extensive training and dedication. Whichever one you choose, you’ll be part of an elite group of airmen who are trained to operate in some of the most challenging environments on the planet.
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