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Marine Forward Air Controllers: The Vital Link

Marine Forward Air Controllers: The Vital Link

 

CSC 1995

 

SUBJECT AREA - Aviation

 

 

 

 

Marine Forward Air Controllers:

The Vital Link

 

 

by

 

 

 

Edmund F. Flores

Major

United States Marine Corps

 

 

 

 

Military Issues Paper submitted to the Faculty of the

United States Marine Corps Command and Staff College in

partial fulfillment of the requirements for graduation.

 

 

April 1995

 

 

 

The views expressed in this paper are those of the author and

do not reflect the official policy or position of the

Department of Defense or the U.S Government

 

 

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

Title: Marine Forward Air Controllers: The Vital Link

 

Author: Major E. F. Flores, United States Marine Corps

 

Thesis: Because Marine Forward Air Controllers (FACs) provide much more than just

terminal control of air support, their contribution to the Marine air-ground team should not be

minimized by replacing them with nonaviators.

 

Background: The Marine Corps is a unique organization with a legal requirement to maintain an

amphibious capability. To accomplish this, it relies on ground forces that are relatively light and

highly mobile. Lacking heavy ground-based firepower, Marine Air-Ground Task Forces look to

their task-organized aviation components to compensate for this shortcoming. Providing the

valuable link between its air and ground forces are FACs permanently assigned to ground combat

elements. FACs are Marine aviators responsible for coordinating and controlling assault support

and close air support (CAS) operations within their units. Additionally, FACs assist the more

senior air officers (AOs) within the unit in advising their commanders on the tactical employment

and safety considerations invoked in aviation operations. The Marine Corps invests heavily in

training its FACs; from initial officer training and naval flight school to completion of tactical air

control party school. This training and the lessons learned throughout early campaigns and wars

continues to improve the sophistication and effectiveness of CAS. Jeopardizing this success are

occasional proposals by Marine units to train nonaviators to control CAS. The potential problem

that accepting these initiatives brings to the Marine Corps is the conclusion that the aviator

requirement no longer exists below the battalion AO level. Replacing FACs with nonaviator

terminal air controllers could weaken the strong air-ground team concept that the Marine Corps

continues to rely upon.

 

Recommendation: The Marine Corps must continue to resist the temptation to replace its FACs

with nonaviator controllers in order to fully capitalize on the tremendous capabilities of its

aviation combat element.

 

OUTLINE

 

Thesis: Because Marine Forward Air Controllers (FACs) provide much more than just terminal

control of air support, their contribution to the Marine air-ground team should not be minimized

by replacing them with nonaviators.

 

I. INTRODUCTION

 

A. Marine Corps fights as a MAGTF (CE, GCE, ACE, & CSSE)

 

B. Marine Corps relies heavily on aviation

 

II. BACKGROUND

 

A. Why the Marine Corps is different

 

B. Amphibious focus

 

III. EVOLUTION OF CLOSE AIR SUPPORT

 

A. Early years: Banana Wars

 

B. Maturation period: World War II

 

IV. EVOLUTION OF FORWARD AIR CONTROLLERS

 

A. Definitions

 

B. What an aviator brings to the battalion

 

V. TRAINING

 

A. Common initial training and naval flight school

 

B. Tactical air control party school

 

VI. FAC MANNING POLICY

 

A. Policy and guidance

 

B. Tactical terminal air controller

 

VII. EXCEPTIONS

 

VIII. CONCLUSION

 

CONTENTS

 

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

OUTLINE

 

Page

 

1. INTRODUCTION 1

 

2. BACKGROUND 4

 

3. EVOLUTION OF CLOSE AIR SUPPORT 7

 

4. EVOLUTION OF FORWARD AIR CONTROLLERS 11

 

5. TRAINING 15

 

6. FAC MANNING POLICY 17

 

7. EXCEPTIONS 21

 

8. CONCLUSION 23

 

NOTES 25

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY 32

 

 

The primary reason for the Marine Corps' having airplanes is their use in close

support of ground units.

Lieutenant General Roy S. Geiger, USMC

as quoted by Roger Willock in Unaccustomed to Fear (1968)

 

 

 

The Marine aviator and the Marine foot soldier must be a team.

Brigadier General Louis E. Woods, USMC

History of Marine Corps Aviation in World War II (1980)

 

 

 

The consensus of all groups was that the best forward air controller is a trained

fighter pilot.

Central Treaty Organization conference conclusion

Air Support of Ground Forces Conference Proceedings (1966)

 

 

1. INTRODUCTION

 

Marines are a different breed--they look different, their mission is different, their

 

requirements are different. The way they organize and train for combat is also unique

 

among the United States (US) armed services. Even their motto, Semper Fidelis (always

 

faithful), denotes an organization committed to being ready, at a moments notice, to

 

defend our nation's vital interests. Inherent within the Corps' motto is the supposition that

 

they can respond quickly and decisively with a minimum of preparation and notice. This

 

quick response capability enables them to participate as part of a larger naval

 

expeditionary force, thus projecting "the power and influence of the nation across the seas

 

to foreign waters and shores in both peace and war."1

 

The Corps is different partly because of the way it organizes itself for battle. In

 

almost every instance, it shows up as a total force package--ready to fight upon arrival

 

with everything from ground and combat service support to aviation assets. That is how

 

Marines operate. Whether participating as smaller Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special

 

Operations Capable) (MEU(SOC)) or a larger Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF),

 

Marines always include their aviation. It is part of what they bring to the table when

 

they deploy; more importantly, it is their doctrine.2

 

Just as aviation is an integral part of how the Marine Corps organizes to fight, the

 

forward air controllers (FACs) that coordinate and control air support are just as essential

 

in accomplishing the aviation mission. They are the interface, the conduit, that gives the

 

Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) commander the ability to unleash the potential

 

firepower and mobility of Marine aviation. Because Marines always plan to fight as a

 

MAGTF, FACs, along with the more senior air officer (AO) in a battalion, are an essential

 

addition to the ground combat element's (GCE's) table of organization.

 

FACs are Marine aviators3 trained to support the GCE maneuver elements by

 

coordinating and controlling assault support and close air support (CAS) operations. As

 

terminal controllers of CAS, they are responsible for controlling aircraft (both fixed-wing

 

and rotary-wing)4 in close proximity to friendly personnel. Similar to the AOs, they are

 

also responsible for advising the commander on the tactical employment and safety

 

considerations involved in aviation operations. The Marine Corps places great emphasis

 

on the safety of its personnel, particularly those locked in close battle with the enemy.

 

Because of this, FACs have the responsibility for the final clearance to drop ordnance on

 

all CAS missions. Not only must FACs ensure that they are adequately marking the

 

target, they must also be absolutely sure that the CAS aircraft is attacking what is

 

marked.5 Fratricide is not acceptable.

 

Can nonaviators control CAS in the Marine Corps? There is little doubt that

 

nonaviators can learn the procedures to control CAS in most situations and achieve

 

adequate results. The real question is, "should they be allowed to?" Since World War

 

II, when the Marines and other armed services first recognized the benefits of having an

 

aviator control CAS, initiatives to consider alternative sources for FACs has been the

 

source of much debate.6 Although the advantages to having an aviator FAC is a

 

universally accepted concept, Marine units continue to draft and forward contrary

 

proposals on a fairy regular basis.7 Headquarters, Marine Corps (HQMC) assigns FACs

 

to GCEs (e.g., infantry battalions, tank battalions, etc.) on each coast as well as to the four

 

air and naval gunfire liaison companies (ANGLICO). Of the 124 total FACs assigned,

 

roughly 20 (16%) receive orders to ANGLICO.8 Although a minority population, the

 

ANGLICO units is where the majority of requests to augment the numbers of FACs

 

originates. The main concern in granting approval for the smaller, specialized ANGLICO

 

units to permanently augment their FAC positions with nonaviators is that the Marine

 

Corps would feel the repercussions for years to come.

 

In justifying the need for a decision in 1990 on a program designed to augment

 

aviator FACs with nonaviators, Aviation Manpower Support at HQMC stated:

 

This Program is in response to numerous General Officer inquiries regarding the

training of members of the ground combat elements as FACs...Historically all

FACs have been designated aviators, however, in crisis situations personnel other

than FACs have coordinated air strikes.9

 

Other reasons cited to justify proposals to replace the aviator requirement are aviator

 

retention problems, better ways to employ expensively trained pilots, and a potential lack

 

of aviator FACs with every element which might require air support.

 

With today's lethality in weaponry, the margin for error is small and can result in

 

unacceptable friendly casualties. However, Marine FACs are much more than just safety

 

observers. Located within the operations sections of their maneuver units, they represent

 

the aviation perspective (in addition to the AO) during the planning and execution phases

 

of day-to-day training and real world operations. Their invaluable insight into the complex

 

world of aviation combined with their basic understanding of Marine infantry tactics make

 

them force multipliers. In order for the Marine air-ground team to work effectively and

 

to reduce the risk of fratricide, the Marine Corps must continue to staff its FAC positions

 

with aviators and resist the occasional temptation to replace them with nonaviators.10

 

2. BACKGROUND

 

Compared to the other US military services, the Marine Corps is not a large

 

organization. It does, however, possess a large fleet of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft

 

upon which it depends for firepower and mobility. Unlike the Army and Air Force, the

 

Marine Corps fully integrates its air delivered fires with land action to maximize the shock

 

effect provided by today's modern weaponry.

 

What makes the Marine Corps different from the other US military services is a

 

simple matter of law. Following World War II, proponents of atomic weapons felt

 

confident that the Marines and their amphibious warfare tactics were no longer necessary

 

for the nation's defense.11 Additionally, because of the enormous wartime growth seen by

 

all services, the Army's leadership wanted to unify the armed services; the Navy and

 

Marine Corps did not.12 After the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Alexander

 

A. Vandegrift, convinced both General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Army's Chief of Staff,

 

and President Harry S. Truman that the Marines had no ambition of becoming a second

 

land army, the National Security Act (NSA) became law in 1947.13 The new law not only

 

protected the Corps from extinction, it also reaffirmed the Marine Corps' relationship with

 

the Navy and formally recognized its unique amphibious function.14

 

The emotional fight to protect the Marine Corps and define its limits culminated in

 

Public Law (PL) 416 of the 82nd Congress on 28 June 1952.15 The new law, amending

 

the NSA of 1947, guaranteed that the Marine Corps would consist of:

 

...not less than three combat divisions, three air wings, and such other land combat,

aviation, and other services as may be organic therein...and [to] provide fleet

marine forces of combined aims, together with supporting air components, for

service with the fleet in the seizure and defense of advanced naval bases and for the

conduct of such land operations as may be essential to the prosecution of a naval

campaign....In addition, the Marine Corps...shall perform such other duties as the

President may direct.16

 

The law recognized two main points. First, the United States must maintain a viable and

 

potent force-in-readiness. Second, maintaining and improving the amphibious landing

 

techniques was of paramount importance. Both points addressed the concerns of those

 

interested in the nation's defense following the country's ill-prepared entry into the Korean

 

War, a conflict raging at the time of PL 416's enactment.

 

With the amphibious focus clearly its primary role, the Marine Corps thus had the

 

responsibility to "develop in coordination with the Army and the Air Force, those phases

 

of amphibious operations which pertain to the tactics, techniques, and equipment used by

 

landing forces."17 Making this requirement even more critical today is the steadily

 

shrinking number of overseas bases to which America has access.18 This increases the

 

need to keep and maintain sea-based forces. When our national interests are at stake, a

 

forcible entry option must always be available.

 

In developing amphibious doctrine, the force structure of the Marines must be such

 

that "strategic and tactical mobility is preserved by lightly equipped Marine forces which

 

are manpower intensive in comparison with other conventional forces."19 To meet this

 

need, the Marine Corps remains committed to traveling light while still maintaining the

 

necessary firepower to meet its requirements. How the Marines organize to fight is

 

through the MAGTF concept. MAGTFs are combined armed forces composed of a

 

command element (CE), a ground combat element (GCE), an aviation combat element

 

(ACE), and a combat service support element (CSSE). Led by a single commander,

 

MAGTFs remain flexible in size to be responsive to accomplish specific missions.

 

Although the MAGTF relies greatly on the contributions of all of its individual

 

elements, it is heavily dependent on the ACE for air support. Doctrinally, Marine aviation

 

supports the MAGTF by accomplishing six functions: antiair warfare, offensive air

 

support, assault support, air reconnaissance, electronic warfare, and command and

 

control. To best understand how the ACE integrates within the MAGTF, it is helpful to

 

view its contributions within the context of firepower, mobility, and aviation-unique

 

support:

 

Firepower. Lacking heavy, ground-based firepower in exchange for increased

transportability, the MAGTF looks to the ACE to make up for this deficit. The

inherent flexibility and range of aviation extends its reach and improves its

responsiveness over great distances.

 

Mobility. Through its sea- and land-based assets, the ACE provides the means to

quickly transport a ground force (GCE or CSSE) to practically any position on the

battlefield. This capability allows the MAGTF commander the opportunity to

mass forces quickly and also provides for the rapid buildup of combat power

ashore during amphibious operations.

 

Aviation-Unique Support. The airborne electronic warfare and command &

control capability that the ACE provides to the MAGTF is invaluable. Through

the specialized products the ACE provides, the MAGTF is in a better position to

carry out its assigned missions.20

 

The Marine Corps air-ground team is a balanced force of air and ground weapons under

 

the command of a single Marine. During hearings conducted on CAS by a special Senate

 

Armed Services subcommittee in the autumn of 1971, then deputy chief of staff(DCIS)

 

for Marine aviation, Major General Homer S. Hill, stated, "The task of projecting forces

 

from the sea toward hostile shores requires highly mobile, self-sufficient forces of

 

combined arms capable of delivering a high level of firepower. Because of the tactical

 

flexibility and combat effectiveness of aviation weapons systems, heavy reliance in

 

amphibious operations is placed in CAS."21

 

The heavy reliance on CAS during amphibious operations to which Major General

 

Hill referred was born of necessity. When no other fire support means are available, the

 

ACE must be ready.22 In order to provide this capability, the Marine Corps invests

 

heavily in its potent aviation arsenal. With so much at stake, it makes little sense to

 

potentially jeopardize the quality of air support by compromising on the requirements

 

necessary to become a FAC. Marine FACs must wear wings in order to fully capitalize

 

on the tremendous capabilities that aviation provides.

 

3. EVOLUTION OF CLOSE AIR SUPPORT

 

Relying heavily on aviation to provide the bulk of its firepower, the Marine Corps

 

continues to build on the tradition and lessons learned on how to conduct effective CAS.

 

Depending upon the individual's background and experiences, CAS can take on many

 

descriptions. The recognized definition for all US and allied forces, as listed in the Joint

 

Chiefs of Staff Publication 1 (JCS Pub 1) Department of Defense [(DOD)] Dictionary of

 

Military and Associated Terms, is: "Air action against hostile targets which are in close

 

proximity to friendly forces and which require detailed integration of each air mission with

 

the fire and movement of those forces."23 Simply stated, CAS is placing air delivered

 

ordinance where and when the Marines on the ground need it.

 

To Marines on the ground, the most important ingredients of CAS are getting it

 

quickly and accurately onto target. To someone pinned down by fire, minutes seem like

 

an eternity. Delay scan mean the difference between life and death. Failure to execute any

 

portion of a CAS mission in a timely and correct manner can result in a number of

 

unwanted situations, the least of which is a loss of momentum while the worst can be

 

unacceptable losses inflicted on friendly personnel. Possesssing the tools to perform CAS

 

is one thing, successfully executing the procedures is another matter. As the former

 

Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps and Commanding General of the Marine

 

forces during Operation Desert Storm, Lieutenant General Walter E. Boomer, stated, "It

 

is one thing to possess modern weapons and quite another to successfully employ them

 

with fully synergistic effect in concert with other military capabilities."24 One of the

 

MAGTF commander's biggest challenges is to ensure the blending of his elements into a

 

combined arms team that is a unified and functioning whole.

 

Over the years, the Marine Corps developed a strong, mutually binding

 

relation between its ground and air components. Prior to World War II, while most of

 

the world's air forces were looking for ways to divorce themselves from their ground

 

brethren, the Marine Corps sought to capitalize on the synergy of the two. Air operations

 

conducted in Haiti and the Dominican Republic supported the Marines on the ground with

 

reconnaissance, supply, transportation, and some rudimentary CAS. Not until their

 

fighting in Nicaragua, however, did the Marines achieve any sort of success with CAS.

 

Although primitive by today's standards, it was in Central America where the Marine

 

air-ground team was born.25

 

During World War II, the Marines continued to improve its tactics and techniques

 

in order to conduct effective CAS in support of ground forces. Always looking for new

 

and innovative ways to assist their ground counterparts, Marine pilots seized the

 

opportunity to prove their theories on CAS. One Marine aviator in particular, Lieutenant

 

Colonel Keith B. McCutcheon, viewed CAS as a tool, another supporting arm, that

 

enabled the ground commander to more effectively advance on his target. Because of his

 

persistence and visionary thoughts, Marine pilots provided CAS missions whenever they

 

could.26

 

The vast operating areas of the Pacific Island campaigns of World War II also

 

meant that Marine aviators often supported other services with air support. Even when

 

not providing for their own, Marine aviation units continued to work on improving the

 

accuracy and responsiveness of CAS. General Douglas MacArthur's Army forces fighting

 

to retake the Philippine Islands during the early months of 1945 thus benefited from the

 

advancements and innovations in CAS. During that campaign, Marine Aircraft Group

 

(MAG) 24's operations officer was Lieutenant Colonel McCutcheon. He persuaded the

 

skeptical Army commanders to give his Marine aviators the opportunity to prove the

 

utility of CAS, and prove it they did.27 The attitudes of many Army commanders switched

 

from doubt to praise. The 1st Cavalry Division commander, Major General Verne D.

 

Mudge, said of his Marine air support: "The Marine dive-bomber pilots on Luzon are

 

well-qualified for the job they are doing, and I have the greatest confidence in their

 

ability....The job they turned in speaks for itself. We are here....I cannot say enough in

 

praise of these dive-bomber pilots and their gunners."28

 

Because of their background, Marine aviators supported the concept that

 

McCutcheon heralded. As mentioned earlier, Marine aviators prided themselves on the

 

close marriage that existed between their air and ground components. Whether from

 

actual combat experience (many Marine pilots served their first tours as ground officers)29

 

or from the rigorous training prior to attending flight school, Marine aviators were

 

empathetic to their fellow Marines on the ground. During World War II, that special bond

 

and trust served the Marines on the ground well as both elements continued in the struggle

 

to make CAS work. Unfortunately, the methodology used to gain improvements was one

 

of trial and error.30

 

Sortie after sortie, Marine aviators methodically reduced the safety margin

 

required to deliver bombs in support of friendly forces Colonel Noah C. New, highly

 

decorated Vietnam War veteran and former MAG-36 Commanding Officer, offered his

 

views in 1971 before the same Senate subcommittee investigating CAS.31 In his

 

testimony, he said, "It is very important to kill the enemy, but since CAS is delivered close

 

to the troops, it is more important not to kill our own."32 Because of that philosophy, the

 

Marine Corps takes seriously the potential ill consequences of an improperly coordinated

 

or controlled air support mission.

 

Just like most marriages, the union of the GCE and the ACE has not always been

 

easy. Integrating the effects of CAS into the ground scheme of maneuver often proved

 

to be disappointing. Developments occurred to improve CAS in peripheral areas such as

 

better communications equipment, improved munitions, and more distinctive methods for

 

marking the location of friendly lead elements; however, significant improvements evaded

 

the Marines until they began the policy of providing a designated aviator to the ground

 

units.33 By the end of World War II, the accepted method for coupling aviation with the

 

GCEs was through the FAC. CAS effectiveness improved dramatically when the men at

 

both ends of the radios were aviators.34

 

Because he, too, was an aviator, the FAC was better able to appreciate the CAS

 

pilot's problems in striking targets. The same problems that existed for Marine pilots first

 

experimenting with CAS, such as target detection, location of friendly forces, and target

 

area tactics, plagued World War II aviators just as they do today's. An aviator FAC

 

cannot guarantee better results, but his background improves the odds of success.

 

4. EVOLUTION OF FORWARD AIR CONTROLLERS

 

For the MAGTF to be effective, Marine aviation must be responsive with timely

 

air support. The CAS procedures that contemporary Marines take for granted came from

 

the lessons and technological improvements gained during World War II. Since those

 

days and because of their backgrounds, aviators proved to be ideal for the position as

 

FAC: they were comfortable with radio vernacular and jargon; they understood the

 

capabilities and limitations of the aircraft they controlled; and they could appreciate the

 

demands of the flight environment. The skills that aviators bring to the GCE are as valid

 

today as they were during World War II.

 

Having demonstrated the criticality of employing aviator FACs to maximize the

 

effects of CAS, the Marine Corps has continued to be quite explicit in defining the

 

requirement in its basic aviation doctrine. Additionally, the basic DOD source for

 

standard military terminology, JCS Pub 1, is equally as clear and precise in lining aviators

 

to the FAC position. The FAC definition in each is very similar:

 

Fleet Marine Force Manual (FMFM) 5-1, Organization and Function of

Marine Aviation. The Marine Corps' FAC is a naval aviator or naval flight officer

who is a member of the tactical air control party (TACP). The FAC controls

aircraft providing direct air support to ground forces. The FAC operates from

forward ground positions. Although not part of the ACE, the FAC is an essential

Marine air command and control system (MACCS) element.35

 

JCS Pub 1. (DOD) An officer (aviator/pilot) member of the tactical air control

party who, from a forward ground or airborne position, controls aircraft in close

air support of ground troops.36

 

The JCS Pub 1 definition meets the guidelines set forth by DOD Directive 5000.9,

 

"Standardization of Military Terminology." That directive requires "the DOD to insure

 

uniformity in the application and use of terms and definition."37 The definition from

 

FMFM 5-1 is consistent with, and works within, the intent of JCS Pub 1.

 

Although tactical air control parties (TACPs) are organic to Marine infantry

 

divisions and regiments, FACs primarily work within the battalion TACPs.38 Being closer

 

to the fight, the battalion TACP has three aviators and 12 enlisted radio operators. The

 

senior aviator is the battalion AO, while the two junior aviators perform FAC duties.39

 

Each FAC leads a battalion FAC party and contributes significantly in the employment and

 

coordination of aircraft whether in the field or garrison environment. Operating with the

 

battalion's lead companies, FACs also provide the necessary aviation interface and advice

 

to company and battalion commanders.

 

As the senior aviator in the battalion, the AO's primary responsibility is to ensure

 

the needed aviation expertise is available to his commander when required. Since he is the

 

commander's principle advisor on all matters relating to aviation, the AO is a prime player

 

whenever the planning or executing of operations becomes necessary. When the

 

commander needs advice or information about the capabilities of Marine aviation

 

assets--fixed-wing, rotary-wing, or air control--nobody can do this better than the AO.

 

But AOs are not always available. In addition to serving as the prime terminal air

 

controllers within each battalion TACP, FACs thus prove themselves valuable as

 

additional AOs.

 

Although the control of CAS is a critical element of a FACs responsibilities, it

 

often eclipses his contribution as another aviation advisor. By mixing the backgrounds

 

(fixed-wing and rotary-wing) of the FACs and AOs provided to each battalion, HQMC

 

increases the likelihood of success for its MAGTFs on the battlefield. Each community

 

provides its own unique contribution to Marine air and, correspondingly, to the MAGTF.

 

Having a representative from each is one more step in optimizing air-ground integration.

 

Whether a FAC or an AO, the commander can exploit their knowledge of the Marine

 

Aircraft Wing (MAW) to his advantage. Without these additional aviators within the

 

battalion, the daily coordination that must take place at the lowest levels might not be as

 

effective.

 

With Marine aviators permanently assigned to ground units, the benefits to training

 

in all areas greatly improves. Not only does the GCE profit, but the entire MAGTF enjoys

 

the benefits as well. Cross-fertilization of the daily rigors, deprivations, and hardships that

 

the GCE contends with become ingrained in the FACs who are the Corps' future squadron

 

commanders. They, in turn, are available to explain the "hows" and "whys" of aviation

 

Two Marine aviators who formerly served as FACs and then later as AOs with GCEs,

 

reported that they considered training the number one priority during their tours. With the

 

complexities intrinsic within aviation, they believed an important part of their job was to

 

eliminate as many barriers to its sac and effective employment.40

 

Depending on the FACs background, training can assume many forms. At a

 

minimum, most FACs instruct their units on the radio and coordination techniques for

 

controlling CAS. In the dynamic battlefield of the contemporary era, the FAC must plan

 

for every contingency--including his own absence. Other training emphasized includes

 

emergency helicopter egress procedures, landing zone (LZ) preparation briefs, glide angle

 

indicator lights (GAIL) set-up, LZ control procedures, night vision goggle (NVG)

 

procedures, and aircraft recognition.41

 

The Marine Corps takes the importance of CAS and the requirement for an aviator

 

FAC very seriously, not only for their terminal controlling abilities but for their all-around

 

knowledge of Marine aviation. Battalions depend on this additional expertise to augment

 

the solitary AO. If the Marine Corps were to allow nonaviators to control CAS on a

 

permanent basis, this could eventually lead to a diminishing requirement for aviators within

 

the GCE below the battalion AO. With the heavy reliance it places on its aviation

 

(especially during initial amphibious operations), this would be detrimental and damaging

 

to the future of the Marine air-ground team.

 

5. TRAINING

 

Generally "recruited" after their first tour with a fleet squadron, Marine FACs

 

pursue the three week TACP course of instruction with the Expeditionary Warfare

 

Training Group (EWTG).42 Upon completion, they qualify for the secondary military

 

occupational specialty (MOS) of 7207. The curriculum includes classroom instruction in

 

CAS procedures, suppression of enemy air defenses, artillery/naval surface fire support

 

call-for-fire, aviation planning for amphibious operations, and general fire support

 

planning. The last week of training culminates with field work during which each student

 

FAC controls actual aircraft on CAS missions.43 But what training does the Marine

 

aviator receive before this?

 

In order for a Marine aviator to be eligible to fill a FAC billet, he must first

 

complete two very challenging schools: the Marine Corps Basic School (TBS) and Naval

 

Flight School. The Marine Corps still emphasizes that all of its officers know and

 

appreciate the viewpoint of the infantryman. Inevitably, the infantry commander will lead

 

and direct the actions of the basic Marine rifleman--the heart of the Marine Corps.44

 

Unlike the other US military services that have specialized officer ascension training, the

 

Marine Corps still trains 100 percent of its commissioned officers in one specialty: the rifle

 

platoon commander.

 

Regardless in what field the young officer will eventually specialize (e.g., armor,

 

intelligence, communications, aviation, infantry, etc.), he or she will first complete the

 

course of instruction at TBS. Approximately 23 weeks in length, this training serves as

 

the foundation and provides the infantry officer's perspective for every officer within the

 

Marine Corps.45 The mission of TBS is:

 

To educate newly commissioned officers in the high standards of professional

knowledge, esprit de corps, and leadership traditional in the Marine Corps in order

to prepare them for the duties of a company-grade officer in the Fleet Marine

Force, with particular emphasis on the duties and responsibilities of a rifle platoon

leader.46

 

Although an expensive initiation and investment, the Marine Corps values the future

 

benefits that common basic training provided Colonel George Smith, former TBS

 

Commanding Officer during the Vietnam War, stated "But in the Marine Corps, in the

 

CAS concept, the Marine officer who wears the naval aviator wings is, first, a Marine

 

officer. That is important, and it is the common denominator aspect of our entire

 

air-ground team concept of the Marine Corps."47

 

Continuing with the Marine FACs road to qualification is his initiation into naval

 

aviation. Following completion of TBS, prospective naval aviators tackle the rigors of the

 

Naval Air Training Command and pursue its rigorous syllabi in one of three aviation

 

communities: strike (jet), helicopter, or maritime (transport). The training lasts from one

 

year (helicopter and maritime) to 11/2 years (strike) and contains many of its own deep

 

traditions.48 Highlighting the nautical initiation is the opportunity to become carrier

 

qualified: a tradition never forgotten. More importantly, it introduces the future aviator,

 

FAC, or possibly MAGTF commander to the difficulties and challenges faced when

 

operating from embarked naval shipping.

 

Aviators bring with them a certain amount of knowledge and experience that the

 

nonaviator simply does not have. Yes, nonaviators bring other valuable experiences

 

learned from their respective MOSs; however, their backgrounds and experiences

 

probably relate very little to controlling CAS. The integrated air-ground team is

 

dependent on the commander receiving sound aviation advice from his AO and FACs. By

 

not having experienced the dynamics of flight, or the three-dimensional perspective of the

 

battlefield, nonaviators might not recognize potential problems or exploitation

 

opportunities that the aviator could.49 If the Marine Corps is serious about providing the

 

best possible air support for the MAGTF, then accepting nonaviators as FACs is contrary

 

to Marine Corps interests.

 

6. FAC MANNING POLICY

 

By doctrine, all US military services acknowledge that FACs must be aviators.

 

The Marine Corps continues to support this requirement through aggressive assignment

 

policies and staffing precedences as outlined in Marine Corps Orders (MCOs) 1301.25A

 

and 5320. 12C, "Assignment of Aviation Officers to Duty as FACs" and "Staffing

 

Precedences for Officer and Enlisted Billets", respectively. The discussion section within

 

MCO 1301.25A offers a clear and concise policy of how the Marine Corps views its

 

FACs. It states:

 

The FAC coordinates and controls close air and assault support missions and

advises the ground commander on matters pertaining to air support. The

assignment of skilled company grade naval aviators and naval flight officers on a

permanent basis is essential to the Marine Corps combined arms, "air-ground

team" concept.50

 

Additionally, the Aviation Officer Assignment Branch (MMOA-2), HQMC, fills all AO

 

and FAC positions under a priority command staffing precedence. Listed as the second

 

highest staffing precedence to excepted command, MCO 5320.12C defines priority

 

command as:

 

Staffed at 100 percent of authorized strength in gross numbers. Because of

inventory shortages, priority commands may not be staffed with the authorized

number of each grade and MOS. Since few priority commands have identical

authorized strengths for all MOSs and grades, differences in their percentage of

authorization for specific MOSs and grades may exist.51

 

With excepted commands receiving the highest priority to staff at 100 percent by grade

 

and MOS, aviation manpower monitors strive to fill all AO and FAC positions as

 

aggressively as possible under priority command guidelines.52

 

Concerned that commanders and manpower managers were not placing quality

 

aviators in FAC and AO positions, HQMC clarified its position on the subject in October

 

1989. The key points of the guidance were:

 

-These policies/procedures are implemented to ensure that highly qualified, well

trained company grade aviators are available and assigned in a timely manner to

carry out this most important duty within the air/ground team.

 

-Well trained FACs/AOs are integral to the combat readiness of MAGTF units.

 

-Officers assigned FAC duty should be of the highest quality.

 

-Early identification of officers so assigned is essential to a successful program

and important to the individual officer.

 

-FAC/AO assignments are career broadening and an important benchmark in the

Marine aviation officer career path.53

 

With this as guidance and MCO 1301.25A providing further amplification, Marine

 

aviation manpower monitors know the commander's intent. Aware that the quality of

 

Marine aviators assigned to the GCEs and CEs can make a big difference in the air-ground

 

team concept, Captain J. Scott Walsh, company-grade fixed-wing monitor, MMOA-2,

 

HQMC, stated in March 1995 that the official policy for the entire section was to support

 

the relationship to the maximum extent possible. Unofficially, he cited his own identity as

 

a Marine, foremost, and wanted to ensure that his ground counterparts received the best

 

possible candidates to represent their aviation interests.54

 

Despite formal guidance and the best intentions of most Marine leaders, attempts

 

continue within Marine units to artificially increase the numbers of terminal air

 

controllers.55 The recurring theme from the majority of requests cite manpower problems

 

and the lack of sufficient aviators to fill the required number of FAC positions. There is

 

also a perceived notion that when the Marine Corps is fighting aviator retention issues,

 

FAC positions go unfilled. This is simply incorrect, as evidenced by the guidance

 

directives and the policies of aviation manpower. The Marine Corps is willing to risk

 

filling the fleet squadrons to a lesser level in order to staff the FAC and AO positions

 

first.56

 

Approximately once every few years, HQMC entertains proposals from Marine

 

schools and units to train nonaviators in the skills necessary to control CAS.57 The most

 

recent submission, terminated by HQMC on 20 August 1992, once again proposed to train

 

key individuals within the GCE as tactical terminal air controllers (TTACs).58 That

 

submission took HQMC over two years to staff; the result: the Marine Corps would not

 

deviate in its policy.59 Fortunately for the Marine Corps, HQMC remains committed to its

 

policy of requiring its FACs be aviators.

 

What brought attention to the TTAC issue was an agenda item and ensuing

 

discussions at the fifteenth annual Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC)

 

planning and scheduling conference held during 1989. The agenda item requested TACP

 

instruction for nonaviator, company-grade officers.60 Why? Because of concern that a

 

reinforced battalion might create more maneuver elements than its organic FAC parties

 

could adequately service. This situation occurred during a Combined Arms Exercise

 

(CAX)just prior to the conference. While recognizing that the situation was possible,

 

HQMC acknowledged that its occurrence was unlikely and that each separate maneuver

 

element would not be "...immediately invoked in the main attack."61 HQMC wisely did

 

not grant approval for the TTAC program.

 

Since the October 1989 HQMC guidance message on filling FAC and AO

 

positions, finding sufficient aviators to fill these billets has not been unmanageable.

 

According to Captain Walsh, very rarely will his section allow battalions to go without

 

their required minimum number of three aviators without exceptional circumstances.62 He

 

routinely witnesses aviation headquarters elements (e.g., MAWs and MAGs) scramble to

 

offer replacements to fill emergency vacancies; the MAG's motivation to fill these

 

positions is to maintain the good working relationship with their ground counterparts

 

One example illustrates this. MAG-31 works extremely hard to perpetuate a close

 

air-ground team. After having furnished a FAC to one of the eastcoast infantry battalions,

 

MAG-31 learned that their nominee was tendering his resignation from the Marine Corps.

 

He had served approximately two months of his twelve month tour with the battalion up

 

to that point. Aware that the FAC was still under obligation to complete the remainder of

 

his tour and that it had no requirement to replace him early, MAG-31 opted to do just

 

that.63 With a well-established policy of sending quality Marine aviators to fill its FAC

 

quotas, MAG-31 did not want to jeopardize the gains made in cooperation and

 

team building over the years. Within one week a replacement was enroute to the battalion

 

and the resigning FAC recalled. Good marriages require hard work over time if they are

 

to survive. MAG-31 definitely takes its role seriously in preserving the relationship.

 

Though not a completely fool proof system, MAG-31's attempts to send quality,

 

career-minded aviators to fill its FAC quotas is paying long term dividends. As an

 

incentive, aviators selected for the FAC program generally become the MAG's future

 

Weapons Tactics Instructors (WTI) and Top Gun graduates.64 MAG-31 wisely looks for

 

commitment in grooming its future leaders and has found a program that produces

 

mutually supporting results. The GCEs receive motivated, top-performing aviators who

 

are eager to produce, while MAG-31 (the ACE) receives a more capable and experienced

 

aviator.

 

7. EXCEPTIONS

 

Does the Marine Corps ever grant exceptions to its policy of requiring aviators to

 

fill all FAC positions? No. All FACs assigned to GCEs are aviators and graduates of

 

TACP school. It does, however, grant exceptions for nonaviators to control CAS

 

missions under certain exigent situations where a FAC is unavailable. During those

 

situations, HQMC generally grants the authority for individuals to control their own air

 

support. The classic example invokes a reconnaissance team without a FAC that requests

 

CAS. If granted approval for a requested mission, then the senior member of the recon

 

team receives the authority to control the strike. This type of approval is not unusual for

 

small, often clandestine, units that cannot afford the luxury of a FAC.65

 

The Marine Corps also routinely grants waivers to control CAS for artillery

 

officers assigned to ANGLICO units as Firepower Control Team(FCT) officers. The

 

waivers give temporary authority to FCT officers to control CAS missions for specified

 

periods of time, generally the length of a given exercise or commitment. With the current

 

trends of increasing operational tempo and drawdown of personnel, ANGLICO units may

 

find themselves in situations with insufficient numbers of FACs to meet all their

 

obligations.66 HQMC continues to grant isolated waivers, but persists in denying any and

 

all requests for blanket waivers or changes in the basic aviator requirement. Commenting

 

in 1986 on this topic while DC/S for Marine aviation, Lieutenant General Keith A. Smith,

 

stated:

 

...Such an integration provides not only trained aviators/NFOs, but also maintains

a vital linkage between ground and air units at the grass roots level. Recommend

that ANGLICO units continue to train 0802s [artillery officers] to perform their

assigned functions as Fire Power Control Team Leaders and that control of CAS

by non-aviators continue to be an emergency measure.67

 

In trying to preserve the sanctity of the relationship between the ACE and the GCE, the

 

Marine Corps remains firm in its requirement that only aviators can be FACs. Of equal

 

merit is its understanding that some amount of flexibility must remain for changing

 

situations and unique circumstances.

 

8. CONCLUSION

 

The initial reasons for requiring a FAC to be an aviator were for better

 

coordination and increased safety. That was the original premise behind taking aviators

 

out of their cockpits and handing them helmets, canteens, and radios. The evolutionary

 

changes that the Marine Corps has made over the years only increases the need for this

 

requirement.

 

Each aviator that serves as a FAC takes with him a wealth of experience and

 

expertise from his particular community. Close liaison is the glue that holds the

 

air-ground team together. Marine Corps leadership decided long ago that aviators could

 

best support this bond; that argument is still valid today. As part of the air-ground team,

 

Marine air also benefits from this close integration. With the emphasis that the Marines

 

place on supporting the basic infantryman, FACs returning to their squadrons take with

 

them valuable knowledge and a renewed outlook about the role of Marine air. They

 

witness, first hand, the employment of CAS and the other functions of Marine air through

 

the eyes of the customer.

 

Most aviators that successfully complete air-ground assignments also walk away

 

astonished at how much they have learned from their brothers on the ground. They speak

 

of learning the big picture behind Marine air and why the Grunts prefer Marines overhead

 

when faced with an extremis situation. In a recent article, one former AO described his

 

experience in the following manner:

 

...I know how they think, how they operate, and what's important to them and

why. As I go back to the cockpit, I see the battlefield from two perspectives

now--from the guy that has to stay there when I fly back to base....I have an

additional view to consider--an expanded way of thinking.68

 

This article reflects the majority viewpoint of most aviators, post-ground tour. Standing

 

on the ground and seeing Marine air from another perspective helps in the education of the

 

young aviator FAC and future MAGTF commander. Clearly the value of Marine aviators

 

serving as FACs is priceless. The Marine Corps must continue to oppose the periodic

 

temptation to replace them with nonaviators.

 

 

 

*********

 

 

 

Before the war nears all Marine aviators had served as company officers.

The senior flyers knew the problems of the men on foot, and they were

therefore more likely to have a sympathetic understanding of the man who

had to assault a pillbox or a hillside cave....they were still [M]arines first,

aviators second. This conditioned their attitude toward the troops on the

ground.

Robert Sherrod

History of Marine Corps Aviation in World War II (1980)

 

NOTES

 

1 U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Paper, ...From the Sea (Washington, DC: GPO,

1992), Introduction.

 

2 Fleet Marine Force Manual (FMFM) 1-2, The Role of the Marine Corps in the

National Defense, (Washington, DC: Department of the Navy, Headquarters, United

States Marine Corps, June 1991), 3-6. Only by exception will a MEF not deploy as an

entire package (CE, GCE, ACE, and CSSE). If tasked by the highest authority, MEFs can

task organize into smaller forces taking advantage of adaptive force packaging.

 

3 Although naval aviation makes a distinction between aviators (pilots) and naval

flight officers (bombardiers, navigators, radar intercept officers, and electronic

countermeasures officers), for the purposes of this paper all aviation designated officers

will be referred to as aviators.

 

4 Maj Jon M. Davis, USMC, former AV-8B Section Head and Chairman, Offensive

Air Support Committee, at Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One

(MAWTS-1), interview by author, 3 March 1995. The Marine Corps no longer

distinguishes between fixed-wing and rotary-wing CAS and therefore disgarded the old

term close in fire support (CIFS).

 

5 Maj Douglas R. Doerr, USMC, and Mr. William H. Blackburn, former USMC

FACs and AOs, interviewed by author, 11 March 1995. Although the importance of a

FAC coordinating and controlling helicopter operations is also a critical element of a

FAC's responsibilities, the focus of this paper will be on CAS. During the interview with

Mr. Blackburn, he stated, "Just like having a fighter or attack pilot is the optimum choice

for a FAC to control CAS, being a helo pilot is optimum for knowing procedures in and

around LZs. You can kill somebody just as well by not knowing what to look for around

an LZ as you can with an errant bomb!!!"

 

6 Col Charles R. Dougherty, USAF, History of the Forward Air Controller (USAF),

Unpublished thesis (Maxwell AFB, AL: Air War College, May, 1970), 18.

 

7 TACP Training and Readiness (T&R) Conference, subject: "TACP T&R

Conference Report," 4-8 October 1993, Quantico, VA: Marine Corps Combat

Development Command (MCCDC), February 1994. During the first TACP T&R

conference held in October 1993, an agenda item proposed by a major subordinate

command recommended that the Marine Corps formalize procedures to qualify

nonaviators as terminal controllers. Its justification was that Marine units such as

ANGLICO have no aviators in terminal control billets and must rely on unit level training

to qualify ground officers as trial controllers. Its recommendation was to establish a

standardized, formal syllabus to qualify nonaviators as terminal air controllers.

 

8 Capt J. Scott Walsh, USMC, company-grade fixed-wing monitor, MMOA-2 at

HQMC, interview by author, 6 March 1995.

 

9 HQMC, decision paper, Aviation Manpower and Support (ASM) Branch, subject:

"Establishment of a Tactical Terminal Air Controller (TTAC) Program", 22 January 1990.

In 1985 and again in 1992, 2nd ANGLICO (2nd Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and

Intelligence Group (SRIG), II MEF) requested a decision by HQMC on their proposal to

qualify nonaviator FACs as "universal spotters". In both cases, HQMC denied their

requests.

 

10 The speed, accuracy, and lethality of the ACE's assets gives the MAGTF

commander the flexibility to influence all segments of the battlefield at one time. Working

beyond the proximity of the ground close battle, aviation influences the deep battle for the

MAGTF commander in anticipation of future operations. What sets the Marines apart

from the other services is the dependence of air support in the close battle area.

 

11 Col John A. DeChant, USMCR, The Modern United State Marine Corps

(Princeton: D. Van Nostrand Co., Inc., 1966), 112.

 

12 J. Robert Moskin, The U.S. Marine Corps (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co.,

1987), 433. Testifying before the Senate Naval Affairs Committee in May 1946, the

Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Alexander A Vandegrift, accused the Army of

trying to limit the Marine Corps to mere ceremonial functions and a small ineffective

amphibious unit.

 

13 The Marine Corps did not want to become a second land army. They did,

however, want to remain the Navy's partner in amphibious operations.

 

14 Jack Rummel, The U.S. Marine Corps, Know Your Government (Series) (New

York: Chelsea House Publications, 1990), 88; LtCol Philip N. Pierce, USMC (Ret.) and

LtCol Frank O. Hough, USMCR, The Compact History of the United States Marine

Corps (New York: Hawthorn Books, Inc., 1964), 280. "Rather than abolishing the

Marine Corps, its enemies had succeeded in bringing about an Act of Congress which

re-emphasized the Corps vital role in the Armed Forces of the United States."

 

15 Moskin, 435.

 

16 Fleet Marine Force Reference Publication (FMFRP) 2-12, Marine Air-Ground

Task Force: A Global Capability (Washington, DC: Department of the Navy,

Headquarters, United States Marine Corps, June 1991), 11.

 

17 FMFM 1-2, 3-6.

 

18 FMFRP 2-12, 48.

 

19 LtGen Keith A. Smith, USMC, "The Posture of Marine Aviation in FY88-FY89,"

Marine Corps Gazette, May 1978, 47.

 

20 Smith, 47.

 

21 U.S Congress, Special Subcommittee on Close Air Support of the Preparedness

Investigating Subcommittee of the Committee on Armed Services, Report on Close Air

Support, Senate, 92nd Cong., 1st sess., 1971, Committee Print, 268.

 

22 A precept of being expeditionary and amphibious is having the ability to travel

rapidly, lightly, and with a minimum of external support. Many amphibious operations call

for the seizure of a hostile beachhead. Because of its great flexibility during the critical

early phases of these operations, aviation is generally the most effective organic

supporting arm obtainable: artillery is frequently not available, mortars may not range or

be in a position to help, and the target might not be suitable, or in a position for naval

surface fires to strike.

 

23 JCS Pub 1, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms

(Washington, DC: GPO, June 1987), 70.

 

24 LtGen Walter E. Boomer, USMC, "Conventional Operations as Sea-based

Forces," Perspectives on Warfighting, No.2, Vol 1 (Quantico, VA: Marine Corps

University, 1992), 115.

 

25 Peter B. Mersky, U.S. Marine Corps Aviation: 1912 to the Present (Annapolis:

The Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1983) 21; Moskin, 160. "The

Marine Corps' first major Caribbean intervention began in Nicaragua on the Central

American mainland in 1912. The biggest of the Banana Wars ranges over 20 years and

reached two climaxes separated by World War I."

 

26 Mersky, 105.

 

27 John Trotti, Marine Air: First to Fight (Navato, CA: Presidio Press, 1985), 28.

 

28 Mersky, 104-106.

 

29 LtCol Edward C. Johnson, USMC, Marine Corps Aviation: The Early Years

1912-1940, ed. Graham A. Cosmas (Washington, DC: GPO, 1977), 79.

 

30 Dougherty, 18.

 

31 U.S. Congress, Senate, 252. Col Noah C. New testified along with DC/S for

Marine aviation, MajGen Homer S. Hill during Senate hearings in October 1971 to

evaluate the roles, missions, and hardware options available to conduct CAS. During

1969, Col New was the CO of MAG-36, a rotary-wing organization. His previous

assignment in 1969 was as the XO of MAG-12, a fixed-wing organization. His extensive

and varied background made him an excellent choice to represent the Marine Corps during

the hearings.

 

32 U.S Congress, Senate, 279.

 

33 Mersky, 107.

 

34 Dougherty, 18.

 

35 FMFM 5-1, Organization and Function of Marine Aviation (Washington, DC:

Department of the Navy, Headquarters, United States Marine Corps, October 1991), 3-3.

 

36 JCS Pub 1, 153.

 

37 JCS Pub 1, i. JCS Pub 1 "is prepared by the Joint Military Terminology Group

under the direction of the JCS....The Secretary of Defense, by DOD Directive 5000.9, 23

March 1981, `Standardization of Military Terminology,' has directed its use throughout the

DOD to insure uniformity in the application and use of terms and definitions."

 

38 FMFM 6-1 (DRAFT), Marine Division (Washington, DC: Department of the

Navy, Headquarters, United States Marine Corps, July 1994), 8-12. The division TACP

consists of one FAC qualified naval aviator/naval flight officer, one air support control

officer, and ten radio operators.

 

39 FMFRP 0-14, Marine Corps Supplement to the DOD Dictionary of Military and

Associated Terms (Washington, DC: Department of the Navy, Headquarters, United

States Marine Corps, April 1989), 2-1. FMFRP 0-14 defines the air officer as follows:

"At the battalion level, an officer who functions as chief advisor to the battalion

commander on all air operation matters. He also supervises the training and operation of

the two battalion forward air control parties."

 

40 Doerr and Blackburn interview.

 

41 Doerr and Blackburn interview.

 

42 HQMC message to MCCDC, subject: "MCBUL 5400 Redesignation of the

Landing Force Training Command/Atlantic (LFTCLANT) and Pacific (LFTCPAC),"

271146Z May 1994. The LFTCs formed the basis for the recently designated EWTGs.

There is one EWTG located at Naval Amphibious Base (NAB) Coronado, CA (Pacific)

and one at NAB Little Creek, VA (Atlantic). The mission of the EWTGs is to develop

and instruct the principles of expeditionary warfare.

 

43 Maj Ronald Snowden, USMC, former TACP course manager at LFTCLANT,

unpublished briefing paper presented at FAC/AO conference at Marine Corps Base Camp

Lejeune, NC, subject: "TACP: Course Curriculum Overview," 16-17 February 1989.

 

44 Col Robert D. Heinl, Jr., USMC (Ret.), The Marine Officer's Guide (Annapolis:

Naval Institute Press, 1977), 4.

 

45 Ms. G. W. Ramsden, Curriculum Analysis Officer, TBS, telephone interview with

author, 4 April 1995.

 

46 Heinl, 261.

 

47 U.S Congress, Senate, 303.

 

48 VAdm Malcolm W. Cagle, USN (Ret.), The Naval Aviation Guide, 4th Edition,

ed. Captain Richard C. Knott, USN (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1988), 55.

 

49 LtCol W. A. Sanderson, Head, Aviation Standards Branch, Training & Education

at Marine Corps Combat Development Command, interview by author, 27, 28 February

1995.

 

50 HQMC, MCO 1301.25A, "Assignment of Aviation Officers," 11 June 1990.

 

51 HQMC, MCO 5320.12C, "Staffing Precedences for Officer and Enlisted Billets,"

27 May 1994.

 

52 Walsh interview.

 

53 HQMC message to major subordinate commands, subject: "Assignment of

Aviation Officers to Duty as FACs/AOs," 230354Z October 1989.

 

54 Walsh interview.

 

55 Head, ASM Branch, HQMC letter to Commanding Officer, 2nd ANGLICO,

subject: "Forward Air Controller (FAC) Certification," 12 June 1992. Citing the previous

"unblemished" record of many fine FCT officers, the ANGLICO community became

interested in gaining official sanctioning and approval for their Universal Controller (UC)

concept. At the time of submission, the UC was an FCT officer granted temporary

authority to control CAS for specific periods of time by HQMC. The community sought a

permanent change to Marine Corps and joint doctrine. Remaining consistent with policy,

HQMC denied the rest for ANGLICO units to FAC certify their FCTOs.

 

56 Major John X. Habel, action officer, ASM at HQMC, interviewed by author, 5

April 1995.

 

57 Majors Henry C. Dewey and John X. Habel, action officers, ASM at HQMC,

interviewed by author, 6 March 1995.

 

58 HQMC, decision memorandum, subject: "Establishment of a Tactical Terminal Air

Controller (TTAC) Program," 27 June 1990. Following abbreviated formal instruction

from the EWTGs (5 days), TTACs were to integrate their follow-on currency training into

their battalion's regular training plan; essentially train along with the other TACP

members. Operation Desert Shield/Storm accounted for the excessive delay from

proposal initiation to termination.

 

59 HQMC, position paper, subject: "Tactical Terminal Air Controller (TTAC)

Program," 10 Apr 1992. Termination date of 20 August 1992 issued.

 

60 First Marine Expeditionary Brigade message to HQMC, subject: "TACP

Instruction," 060425Z January 1990. "1. At MCAGCC scheduling conference, TACP

instruction for company grade non-aviators was agenda item. For future CAXs,

MCAGCC plans to encourage use of non-aviator company grade officers controlling close

air support missions. One prerequisite is formal training at TACP school."

 

61 HQMC, point paper, subject: "Terminal Controllers Initiative," 28 February 1990.

 

62 Walsh interview.

 

63 Walsh interview.

 

64 Trotti, 5. WTIs complete a comprehensive course in advanced aviation tactics and

planning. Prereqisite for FA-18 Hornet pilots to receive the WTI MOS is completion of

the U.S. Navy's Top Gun fighter weapons school (or equivalent).

 

65 Maj David H. Berger, USMC, former instructor at MAWTS-1, and MAJ Michael

Nagata, USA, Special Forces Officer, interviewed by author, 24 March 1995 and 19

January 1995, respectively. All Marine reconnaissance and Army special operations forces

units train in the procedures for controlling CAS. In the usual scenario, the units plan for

their targets to be on or near their own positions. Additionally, most units travel without

the benefits and burdens of an extra specialist: the FAC. The basic skills required to

perform FAC duties do not necessarily come from an aviation background. They are

procedural methods that most combat arms personnel could learn. On a case available

basis, Marine ground combat arms personnel attend TACP school but do not receive the

secondary FAC MOS.

 

66 Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic 3rd endorsement on

Commanding Officer, 2nd ANGLICO letter dated 17 October 1991, subject: "Forward

Air Controller (FAC) Certification," 21 April 1992. "During FY 92, 2nd ANGLICO will

deploy detachments with three MEU(SOC)s, one UNITAS, for four spotting exercises

and combined arms exercises, ten exercises with U.S. Army commands and two NATO

exercises....This shortage, coupled with a demanding operational tempo, identifies the

requirement to qualify more certified FACs within 2nd ANGLICO."

 

67 DC/S for Aviation Comment letter, subject, "ANGLICO Universal Spotter

Concept and Non-Aviator Control of CAS," 14 May 1986.

 

68 Capt Bradley C. Lapiska, USMC, "The Education of a Naval Aviator," Marine

Corps Gazette, May 1987, 26.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

 

Berger, David H. Maj, USMC. Infantry/reconnaissance officer and student at USMC

Command & Staff College, MCCDC, Quantico, VA. Interview by author, 24 March

1995.

 

Blackburn, William H. Former USMC captain and FAC/AO with 1st Marine Division.

Telephone interview by author, 11 March 1995.

 

Boomer, Walter E., LtGen, USMC. "Conventional Operations as Sea-based Forces." In

Perspectives on Warfighting, No.2, Vol 1, Quantico, VA: Marine Corps University, 1992.

 

Cagle, Malcolm W., VAdm, USN, (Ret.). The Naval Aviation Guide, 4th Edition. Edited

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Central Treaty Organization Conference. Air Sport of Ground Forces Conference

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Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic. Letter (3rd endorsement) to HQMC

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Davis, Jon M., Maj, USMC. Former MAWTS-1 instructor; currently student at USMC

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DC/S for Marine aviation comment Subject: "ANGLICO Universal Spotter Concept and

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