• Thanks for stopping by. Logging in to a registered account will remove all generic ads. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

FAC Teams

M

MikeL

Guest
I was wondering what trades are generally employed in a FAC team and how NCMs get into this field.  From what I've seen it is mostly Arty guys but I saw one team that had a Sig Op with them. I've also read different things saying how'd in an ideal FAC team there would be a Signaller with each team.  Is it fairly common now for Sigs to be in FAC teams or is it still mainly Gunners.

Also, who can attend the FAC course? I know that it is mostly Combat Arms NCOs and Officers, but I've never heard/read anything saying that only Combat Arms pers may attend the course.

Thanks
 

StirlingDyer

New Member
Reaction score
0
Points
0
FAC used to be done mostly by Arty but is quickly becoming an Air Force trade again.  The team itself is called a Tactical Air Control Party (TACP), and the two trades that are the meat of the team are Aerospace Control Officers (AEC) (Weapons) on the Officer Side, and Aerospace Control Operators (AC OPS) on the NCM side.

TACP is in its infancy in Canada, but for a good idea of what the teams are like take a look at the American model.  Our way of doing things is very similar.  A good book on the topic is Danger Close by Steve Call.
 
M

MikeL

Guest
Are the Air Force guys now out in the field controlling CAS?  On my last tour it was still Army controlling CAS, I only know of one AC Op that was part of a TACP. The rest of the Air Force guys I saw were back in KAF working out of the TOC.
 

George Wallace

Army.ca Dinosaur
Reaction score
4
Points
410
Stirling Dyer said:
FAC used to be done mostly by Arty but is quickly becoming an Air Force trade again.  The team itself is called a Tactical Air Control Party (TACP), and the two trades that are the meat of the team are Aerospace Control Officers (AEC) (Weapons) on the Officer Side, and Aerospace Control Operators (AC OPS) on the NCM side.

TACP is in its infancy in Canada, but for a good idea of what the teams are like take a look at the American model.  Our way of doing things is very similar.  A good book on the topic is Danger Close by Steve Call.

Excuse me!

Your sense of history on this matter is right out to lunch.  FAC has for the most part been an Army job.  It has been mainly Cbt Arms.  Looking at your profile, perhaps you may want to approach a fellow who habits your mess and ask him about his days as a FAC flying with 444 Sqn as an Armd Sgt/Hel Observer.  Garry, if you are reading this, perhaps you can set him straight.  Lance, I know you also visit, so perhaps you may chime in.

The Artillery flew their own FOO/FAC teams in Korea, in ARMY Aircraft.  Tac Hel flew Cbt Arms Hel Observers consisting mostly of Armd and Inf NCOs with some Arty.  They acted as Nav/FOO/FAC. 

This is not a relatively new thing for the CF.  It has been around for a long time.  Perhaps it is relatively new for the Air Force, but not for the Army.


 

George Wallace

Army.ca Dinosaur
Reaction score
4
Points
410
Just to add:  Up to 1970 the RCD's had their own Helicopter Troop, and flew Hillers.  The Artillery at the same time were flying L19s.  These were all ARMY assests.  The pilots were Army as well.
 
A

aesop081

Guest
George Wallace said:
This is not a relatively new thing for the CF.

Thats not what was said. Suggest you go back and read again George.
 

George Wallace

Army.ca Dinosaur
Reaction score
4
Points
410
CDN Aviator said:
Thats not what was said. Suggest you go back and read again George.

Sorry.  I locked in on these comments:

Stirling Dyer said:
FAC used to be done mostly by Arty............. but is quickly becoming an Air Force trade again


.......... is in its infancy in Canada, ........
 

Jammer

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
0
Points
0
On 3-08 the FAC/TACP teams embedded in the Coys were composed of Arty and Air officers. One FAC was even a Sea King pilot seconded to the tour!
The signallers were gunners for the simple fact that there were not enough Rad Ops to go around.
No one has a monopoly on this particular job right now.

Hey George, don't forget the Army also owned the Voyageurs before they became SAR birds.
 

Nfld Sapper

Army.ca Fixture
Subscriber
Mentor
Reaction score
10
Points
580
From the 31 Jan 07 edition of the Maple Leaf.

The FAC: airspace co-ordinator
by Sgt Dennis Power

CFB SHILO, Manitoba — One of the most important jobs on the battlefield today is that of the forward air controller (FAC). FAC’s control jets dropping bombs, attack helicopters launching rockets and missiles, helicopter evacuation of casualties, and artillery barrages. Whether troops in contact need air support, or a medivac, it’s the FAC who controls it all.

FAC’s are typically combat arms sergeants, warrant officers, or officers according to Warrant Officer Darcy Cyr, a FAC supervisor with the 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery (1 RCHA), in Shilo. “It’s a complicated and in-depth course, airspace co-ordination is a big part of the training, and a big concern on operations.”

Most FAC’s are concentrated within field artillery units and currency training (i.e. staying current) is given a high priority, as the skills required to be a good FAC are perishable.

“We have to maintain corridors for medivac helicopters to come in safely, for attack helicopters to come in and out and make sure that all of our assets in the air are away from any artillery rounds that may be engaging the enemy,” said WO Cyr.

“We want to keep everything moving all at the same time in the same airspace, but with everyone’s safety in mind,” he added.

Sergeant Clay Cochrane of 1 RCHA is undergoing currency training prior to deploying with Task Force 1-07. “I’ve called in lots of fast air (jets), but the training we’re doing now is based on the experience of FAC’s that have already been over there (Afghanistan). It makes it that much better, and more relevant for the operations coming up,” said Sgt Cochrane.

“Most of the time I’ll be attached to one infantry company. Good because I can build a rapport with the company commander and understand what he wants for support. He’ll understand what I’ll be able to give, and this streamlines things for when a battle takes place.”

“I may be pulled away to another area if having another FAC can influence the battle,” Sgt Cochrane continued. “But I’m looking forward to deploying with my infantry company and giving them the best support I can with the skills we’re working on here.”
 

rampage800

Member
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Skeltor

As of now probably 80% of the FACs we have in the Canadian military are Cbt Arms with a majority of that number from the artillery trade. The problem with controlling is not getting guys on the course, its having them stay up to date on the qual runs they need afterwards. Its not a slight on any other trade but some units just have trouble comprehending  that once their guys actually get the course (now called Certification) they need to maintain/upgrade their abilities on a regular basis to stay current (called Qualification). The signallers you may have saw with the teams is usually there to talk to the OC or Pl Comd on the VHF net and usually not the a/c itself, not that they can't its just with the amount of brevity that goes on on a UHF net if you weren't familiar with it a person would get confused pretty quickly, the US call those guys ROMADs or basically baby JTACs. It is a highly perishable skill and the pers tempo will probably far outweigh most others. The upside is you'll work/train with all sorts of high speed units and equipment, if that your thing. Theres a course running right now I think and another one in the fall, the majority of it run in the United States mid west.

Stirling

I'm not sure where you got your info or who is feeding you that but its wrong. The Air Force does have controllers yes but mostly working from KAF. Somewhere along the way they've decided (thanks to LOS and ROVER) to keep a majority of the controls from the TOC which is fundamentally flawed IMHO, funny enough though almost all the Danger Close controls are done from the JTAC on the ground, go figure. It is however not becoming an Air Force trade nor is it being done quickly so we can put that to bed right now.

 

Loachman

Former Army Pilot in Drag
Staff member
Directing Staff
Reaction score
449
Points
980
Observers were actually exclusively Armoured and Artillery until shortly before the unfortunate retirement of the Kiowa. Infantry and Combat Engineers joined the community rather late.

All Regular Force Kiowa Pilots did the FAC course as well, and were responsible for the conduct of all runs controlled from their hel regardless of the person talking to the bomber pilot, which was usually the Observer.

There were extremely few ground FACs in those days. There was a token ground guy on my course, but the rest of us were Kiowa Pilots and Observers.

Prior to the Kiowa, Artillery Officers flew Army L19s and Cessna 172s in the Air OP role. I do not know if they were employed as FACs.

In my experience, CF TACPs were generally found at brigade (or "combat group" until that silly term reverted back to "brigade") or higher, with the occasional employment at battalion/battle group HQ level under limited circumstances. They never ventured far enough forward to actually control runs, at least not that I saw.

Whether we are employing "Aerospace Control Officers (AEC) (Weapons) on the Officer Side, and Aerospace Control Operators (AC OPS) on the NCM side" as FACs as alleged or not I cannot say. I saw no evidence of that during my recent tour, though. I was involved in a few events wherein my crew provided the imagery and other assistance while the TACP directed from KAF; they certainly were not "Forward Air Controllers", however.
 

rampage800

Member
Reaction score
0
Points
0
they certainly were not "Forward Air Controllers", however

Well said Loach, theres actually a small fight to change the name to JTAC just for that reason and because most of our Coaliton partners use the term JTAC vice FAC as well.
 

Cleared Hot

Jr. Member
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Stirling Dyer said:
FAC used to be done mostly by Arty but is quickly becoming an Air Force trade again.  The team itself is called a Tactical Air Control Party (TACP), and the two trades that are the meat of the team are Aerospace Control Officers (AEC) (Weapons) on the Officer Side, and Aerospace Control Operators (AC OPS) on the NCM side.

TACP is in its infancy in Canada, but for a good idea of what the teams are like take a look at the American model.  Our way of doing things is very similar.  A good book on the topic is Danger Close by Steve Call.

Know your lane young Padawan!  First off thanks to George for pointing out the most obvious historical inaccuracies, however, where to begin?  While Canada has it's own doctrine with regard to CAS it is officially based largely on NATO doctrine.  Much of this however is set aside by the community in favour of US doctrine/TTPs because let's face it, when push comes to shove they are who we work with and they set the rules.  For example, that is the reason we use the US 9-line vice the NATO version when on ops.  All things FAC were the purview of the AF for a long time but that didn't mean it was the AF who did it.  Sure there were AF FACs as there still are, however it was largely Arty and Recce types ( both Armd/Inf) who made up the bulk of FACs.  In the late 90's / early 00's the AF under funding and flying hour pressures all but stopped conducting CAS training and for 2-3 years we never ran any FAC crses.  The Army, specifically the Artillery School, saw this as completely unacceptable and picked up the ball so to speak and started running the course themselves (with the blessing of the AF) using contracted fast air and allied aircraft to enable the training.  Immediately the course doubled in length and had a much more more land ops focus.  That has been improved upon until the course is now 3 x as long as the original one and incorporates contracted air, aviation, Canadian and US fighters as well as Strat bombers.  The course is so well run and turns out such a good product that there is no desire by the AF to take it back because it is working and it is one less thing that they have to deal with.  That being said, now that it is running I am more than willing to debate where in the Army the FAC CoE should be and we will see what happens with the stand-up of the Air-Land Integration Cell in Kingston this summer.

In any case, as for terminology that is one of the biggest debates in the community because take JTAC for example, while most FACs call themselves JTACs, LFDTS will have none of it and the term FAC still remains.  The why isn't really important, however for this you have to understand what a TACP is to us vs. the US.  In Canada it is the coordination center in the BG or Bde CP that deals with air/avn.  Sure they can with the help of the ASCC manage airspace and they do have FAC qualified individuals who can and do conduct Type II controls however in Canada the FOO/FAC or (FAC/FOO) party is still the party that is on the battlefield doing the same task at the Coy and below level. It is only them who are outside the wire directly in the fight. Yes I know a few AF TACP types who did the combat tourism thing and controlled outside the wire but it was not their job and most tours see the entire TACP staying inside KAF the entire time.  The US doesn't make the distinction and a TACP exists at every level of the tactical organization, so yes they call their FAC parties TACPs, but they also call the BG TACP a TACP as well so don't get them confused.  Oh, and don't forget that in the US being a JTAC is a trade not a specialization or skill like it is in Canada so that allows them to invest in and employ their pers differently than we do. 

Currently there are on average two FACs in the TACP and about 6 x that in the rest of the TF.  So, I don't see where this perception of a shift from Army to AF is coming from.  And as for AEC and AES Ops sure they are employed in the TACP but very few of those who have deployed have been FACs, which if I were one of them I would have been seriously pi**ed about.  In the AF, FACs have historically been experienced fighter pilots but with the move away from doing CAS also came a lack of desire to use the limited resource of fighter pilots in that role and they shifted to then Air Wpns and Nav guys.  Now that the TACP is the AF's contribution to Afgh (until the stand-up of the Wing) it became important enough to put fighter guys back in charge and while yes there are AEC etc. I can only think of CF-18 and Griffon drivers who were the OC TACP or FACs.

In the end, to answer the OP's question, if you want to be in an actual FAC party and get out in the field it will have to be with an Arty unit as a part of a FOO FAC party which are usually made up of gunners, however there is a move to bring in other combat arms guys (right now 1 RCHA has two Armd O's and one Inf O who are there as FAC/FOOs) but there are no NCMs similarly employed at this time.  That is not to say that you can't get the FAC Crse yourself but you have to be Cbt Arms Master Cpl or up and in a position that requires it.  It's just too expensive, resource intensive and backlogged to waste spots on people who don't truly need it.  So, then let's say you were in the Recce Sqn you may get the course but you would not actually be in a FAC party, rather just have that skill.  In the Artillery the FOO/FAC parties use generally Arty sigs because of the Arty component to their job.  One area you might want to look at is the OMLT where the FOO/FAC party is structured differently than in any other org, and the OMLT temds to be something a bit easier to volunteer for.
 

Jammer

Army.ca Veteran
Reaction score
0
Points
0
The theory and doctrine is fine and could be debated all day.
However, what is happening in theater right now is very fluid and I dare say that the book is still being written.
It should be interesting to see how this plays out.
 

Loachman

Former Army Pilot in Drag
Staff member
Directing Staff
Reaction score
449
Points
980
Just another historical point - TACPs traditionally had no, and nor should they have under normal circumstances, any direct role to play in Tac Hel matters. Doctrinally, and in Canadian practice, Tac Hel Squadrons come under command of their associated Brigade during operations and exercises. The G3 Aviation is the principal staff adviser and is responsible for aviation matters such as taskings. He/she is not part of the TACP, although both obviously assist each other as necessary.

Current operations in Afghanistan are not normal circumstances, and tactics, command structures, and procedures used there will not necessarily function well in conventional/traditional warfighting operations.
 
M

MikeL

Guest
Thanks for the info, much appreciated.

Cleared Hot inref to your comment on the OMLT. Does the OMLT actually have FAC parties or would it just be a Sgt/WO in a Mentoring team with the training? I never heard anything about the OMLT having its own designated teams just for FAC; just that some NCOs had the qualification and the other guys in the team received some training on it but aren't certified. But I had a very limited exposure to the OMLT and just patrolled with one team with a OMLT Cpl who received some training but not certified FAC.
 

rampage800

Member
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Skeltor

In ref to your question to CH I can probably help out a bit. The OMLT absolutely does have FACs, not every roto has gone with one though due to various reasons that I won't air out on here, some units have had to get "creative" in filling the positions because I'm not 100% sure if the TO&E actually calls for FACs or just FOO/FAC with a FOO Tech.
In ref to do they do mentoring, the short answer is no, I am aware of one FAC who was Certified/Qualified and then put in as a PSS Commander and that was his main job with FACing a far behind secondary duty (but he did control) The flipside to that is it woul be extremely hard/impossible to do both with any efficiency, its just too hard to track a whole bunch of ANA/ANP in a TIC, advising them on tactics and controlling various airborne platforms that are responding or already on station. Generally the FAC team (enablers) just embeds into the mentor team going out and control from there, thats generally where they are most effective and that skillset isn't tied to any one ANA Coy or PSS and can be moved aound the AO where best suited.
Hope that helps.
 
Top