TACP test future capabilities during "Gunslinger 22" exercise

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Katie Tamesis
  • 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing

Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) Airmen from the 10th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS), 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing (AGOW), participated in Gunslinger 22, a joint Expeditionary Air Base Operations exercise with Marine Corps operators and aircrews, at Fort Riley, Kansas, June 13-14.

Gunslinger 22 was a joint, dynamic force employment exercise that integrated Marine Corps Air Command and Control System capabilities with Air Force Agile Combat Employment techniques. The 10 ASOS seized this as an opportunity to test the utilization of customer agnostic TACP strike teams, reconnaissance mission concepts and advanced infiltration training with joint-service partners.

The training consisted of air-to-ground synchronization as well as support functions necessary to combat operations.

“2d ANGLICO Marines provided the 10 ASOS TACP strike team with a small unmanned aerial system sensor operator to add standoff reconnaissance capability, and provided a Corpsman for medical support on the ground,” said Major Ralph Johnson, 10 ASOS director of operations. “Lt Hilvers, a TACP officer, had lead for mission execution and was tasked to conduct target acquisition of any threats that were in the vicinity of a planned forward area refueling point location, their purpose was to enable Expeditionary Air Base Operations.”

As the TACP weapon system (TP WS) continues to advance their capabilities for the future fight, Gunslinger 22 demonstrated TACP abilities to enable advanced options for Air Force Lead Wings via Agile Combat Employment (ACE) that other weapon systems are unable to provide.

“Gunslinger gave 10 ASOS the opportunity to conduct advanced infiltration techniques, and test a strike team's ability to detect, positively identify, and pass targeting data to a supported commander in order to close a kill chain and gain an operational advantage” Johnson said. “TACP strike teams can develop an operational environment for commanders and facilitate engagement of targets in an area that is contested where others cannot operate.”

Along with the ACE capabilities that TACPs bring to the battlefield, as part of accelerating change, the TACP enterprise is transforming from an Army support focused force to a multi-role, customer agnostic, capabilities-based, and threat relevant weapons systems.

“Although TACP has traditionally supported the Army as its main customer, through proper application of the tools, equipment, qualifications, and delegated authorities, the TACP WS can be customer agnostic, and threat focused to solve a supported commander’s problems,” Johnson said.

The TACP enterprise as a whole provides Joint Force Commanders with expertise on the integration of air power while extending Theater Air Control Systems specifically for the Joint Forces Air Component Commander. Gunslinger 22 validated these proficiencies and improved TACP skills necessary for joint, adaptive operations in the future.