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    • Msn Reports
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Tactical Air Control System

TACS Organization
Tactical Air Control System major components in 1970

(Based on MACV Vietnam Lessons Learned No. 77)

  The Tactical Air Control System (TACS) was the means by which the senior Air Force commander in Southeast Asia was able to plan, direct and control tactical air operations and coordinate air operations with other services.   The TACS consisted of control agencies and communications - electronics facilities which provided the means for centralized control and decentralized execution of missions.  
(7th AF Pamphlet 55-1, 1968)

The Tactical Air Control Systems epitomized the military's fascination with acronyms.   Hopefully this page will help to bring some sense to this alphabet soup.  

Here are definitions of the more important terms.

Tactical Air Control Party (TACP):

As utilized in South Vietnam, a subordinate operational component of the Tactical Air Control System designed to provide air liaison functions and coordination for the control of aircraft; operates at corps, Field Force, division, brigade or cavalry squadron, and battalion levels; may consist of ALO's, FAC's, radio operators and equipment. (p. 16)

The Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) provides an Air Force communications system down to the battalion level.
TACP radio jeep
TACP communications jeep (click image for more)
Photo courtesy of Robin Michael
At the head of the team is an Air Liaison Officer (ALO) who is a key member of the ground commander's staff. The ALO attends the ground commander's meetings, briefs on air activity in the area, and advises on the use and capabilities of tactical airpower. Additionally, the ALO is a senior forward air controller and the supervisor of the FACs in the TACP. These FACs are Air Force pilots who perform a number of vital missions from their airborne positions in light observation aircraft. They maintain close contact with local ground forces, help keep ground units linked by providing timely airborne radio links, direct airstrikes, forward Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA) reports, and perform valuable visual reconnaissance during daily patrols of their sector. (p. 32)

The TACP's are located with the ground units down to the battalion level and provide the link from the Army commander to the DASC [Direct Air Support Center] for acquisition of supporting airpower. (pp. 35-36)

Direct Air Support Center (DASC):

A subordinate operational component of the Tactical Air Control System designed for control and direction of close air support and other direct air support operations; it is under the operational control of a tactical air control or tactical air direction center and is normally located near the command post of the supported ground unit. (p. 14)

Seventh Air Force In Country Tactical Air Operations Handbook
7AF Pamphlet 55-1
Saigon: Headquarters Seventh Air Force, 20 March 1968

Links to additional information on the Tactical Air Control System:

Description of the Tactical Air Control System (TACS)
• TACS Areas of Responsibility (AOR)
• CAS Guide for Ground Commanders

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