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Nellis graduates first ever TACP FTU; advancing special warfare

Graduates pose for photo with their instructors.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nathan Fox (left) and Airman First Class William Simmons (right), two Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) Journeymen from the 6th Combat Training Squadron, pose for a photo with their instructors and mentors after the graduation ceremony at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, April 8, 2021. They are the first graduates of the Air Force’s new TACP Formal Training Unit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman First Class Zachary Rufus)

Graduates pose for photo.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nathan Fox (left) and Airman 1st Class William Simmons (right), two Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) journeymen from the 6th Combat Training Squadron, are the first Airmen to graduate from the Air Force’s new TACP Formal Training Unit (FTU). The graduation took place at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, April 8, 2021. During the second phase of the TACP FTU at Nellis, Airmen accomplished countless hours of academics, practical exercises and 14 combat mission profiles through a mix of simulator and live-fly training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airmen 1st Class Zachary Rufus)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. --

Staff Sgt. Nathan Fox and Airman 1st Class William Simmons, two Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) journeymen from the 6th Combat Training Squadron at Nellis, graduated from the Air Force’s first-ever TACP Formal Training Unit (FTU) April 8, 2021.

After tech school, the Airmen began Phase I of the FTU at Camp Bullis, Texas, where they advanced their skills in ground operations such as foot and vehicle navigation, small arms proficiency, patrolling and radio operations.

After completing the ground skills phase, they came to Nellis for the air phase and trained how to be joint terminal attack controllers (JTAC). After graduating, they have completed their JTAC qualification and all of their five-level tasks.

“These graduates are the first iteration of what I would call the most strategically impacting thing that has happened to TACP in its history,” said Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Schaefer, Nellis TACP Group superintendent.

The TACP FTU shortens the training pipeline from 18 months to 21 weeks to deliver highly trained, initial qualified JTACs to the Air Support Operations Squadrons. Once in their operational units, they will accomplish mission qualification check-outs and be ready for immediate contingency tasking as JTACs in combat.

“We call someone a professional if they are really good at what they do and we trust them,” said Maj. Gen. Charles Corcoran, United States Air Force Warfare Center commander. “This FTU is graduating professionals; these Airmen are professional TACPs, extremely good at what they do and trusted implicitly with delivering lethal force.”