A hazing scandal in the Air Force's elite tactical air control party community led to the removal of two squadron commanders recently, said Col. Benjamin Bishop, commander of the 354th Fighter Wing.
The Air Force has roughly 1,100 TACPs, who fight alongside conventional and special operations forces. They can call in airstrikes but they are also highly trained for ground combat.
"The tactical air control party is a weapons system in my command," Bishop told Task & Purpose. "It is an elite team that has tremendous capability and tremendous potential to employ on the battlefield. I am very protective of that weapon system and I am very passionate making sure that it's able to be as lethal as possible when the time comes. A hazing culture that could arise is a threat to mission effectiveness."
A Tactical Air Control Party Airman with the New Jersey Air National Guard's 227th Air Support Operations Squadron scans the training area for targets on Warren Grove Range, N.J., Jan. 31, 2019. (U.S. Air National Guard/Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)
The U.S. Air Force is hopeful it could have its first female battlefield airman this spring.
In written testimony before the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on personnel, Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, said one woman is making her way through the grueling challenges of Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) training.