TACPs exercise combat rescue support

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Christian Little & Airman 1st Class Sir Wyrick
  • 93rd AGOW

93rd Air Ground Operations Wing Tactical Air Control Party members rehearsed embedding in U.S. Air Force Guardian Angel personnel recovery teams during exercise Red Flag Rescue 23-2 in Arizona and New Mexico, Aug. 3-18, 2023.

TACPs can embed with these rescue teams as command and control and joint fires experts who coordinate air assets and employ close air support to protect combat rescue personnel during rescue operations.

“The exercise demonstrated that TACPs can be utilized in a multi-role environment,” said Tech. Sgt. Giovan Vitale, 14th Air Support Operations Squadron TACP. “We were allowing Guardian Angel members to focus solely on treating patients and getting them out. The TACP is there to lift the role, from the Guardian Angel team, of infil and exfil from the rescue vehicle, pushing updates to higher headquarters and higher levels of care, and conducting fires within close proximity.”

TACPs integrated into Davis-Monthan’s 563rd Rescue Group over the previous 12 months and will have six TACP Airmen permanently assigned to the group to further their combat rescue capabilities.

“This was to enhance the command and control capabilities of our Lead Wing and Personnel Recovery Task Force,” said Col. Jose Cabrera, 563rd Rescue Group commander. “The TACP expertise and their equipment were critical and helped us improve the agility of our force and resiliency of our C2 networks in highly contested environments.”

The TACPs being embedded in rescue teams alleviated C2 and close air support workloads from rescue team members and diversified the teams to bring a wider breadth of expertise.

“Having the TACPs could be a huge force multiplier, because now we can maximize our support while having an additional party of experts that can fill unseen holes,” said Master Sgt. Tammer Barkouki, 131st Rescue Squadron pararescue team leader.

Future challenges have influenced rescue teams to rethink and rework how they perform combat search and rescue operations.

“As long as we have manned aircraft flying over the line, then CSAR will need to continue to be relevant, and it will have to evolve to face these challenges,” Barkouki said.

Rescue teams identified a need to adjust the way they perform operations, and TACPs have been added as one more resource in their arsenal.

“It’s about adapting to the current environment,” Vitale said. “You’re able to increase the lethality of the team on the ground.”