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5th ASOS hosts first TACP officer candidate course at JBLM

A team of tactical air control party (TACP) officer candidates work on solving the task of getting supplies over a simulated river without setting off simulated trip wires after navigating themselves to the given coordinates during the TOPT selection course phase II, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Aug. 27, 2019. Candidates were evaluated on their performance under high levels of stress by experienced TACP officer and enlisted cadre, as well as Air Force psychologists throughout the week-long selection process.

A team of tactical air control party (TACP) officer candidates work on solving the task of getting supplies over a simulated river without setting off simulated trip wires after navigating themselves to the given coordinates during the TOPT selection course phase II, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Aug. 27, 2019. Candidates were evaluated on their performance under high levels of stress by experienced TACP officer and enlisted cadre, as well as Air Force psychologists throughout the week-long selection process. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikayla Heineck)

Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) Officer Phase Two (TOPT) assessment cadre follow candidates through a tactical village at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Aug. 27, 2019. The TOPT 5-day assessment is designed primarily to create situations that allow candidates the opportunity to demonstrate their aptitude to lead in a stressful environment.

Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) Officer Phase Two (TOPT) assessment cadre follow candidates through a tactical village at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Aug. 27, 2019. The TOPT 5-day assessment is designed primarily to create situations that allow candidates the opportunity to demonstrate their aptitude to lead in a stressful environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) Officer Phase Two (TOPT) assessment candidates (left) engage with a simulated opposing force during a tactical training portion of the course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Aug. 27, 2019. Candidates are tested through physically demanding ruck-marches and physical training events to briefs and interviews that assess critical thinking and communication abilities to see if they have what it takes to be a TACP officer.

Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) Officer Phase Two (TOPT) assessment candidates (left) engage with a simulated opposing force during a tactical training portion of the course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Aug. 27, 2019. Candidates are tested through physically demanding ruck-marches and physical training events to briefs and interviews that assess critical thinking and communication abilities to see if they have what it takes to be a TACP officer. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) Officer Phase Two (TOPT) assessment candidates move a simulated casualty onto a litter at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Aug. 27, 2019. The purpose of TOPT is to see if the candidates have the leadership skills to become a TACP officer.

Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) Officer Phase Two (TOPT) assessment candidates move a simulated casualty onto a litter at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Aug. 27, 2019. The purpose of TOPT is to see if the candidates have the leadership skills to become a TACP officer. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

A team of tactical air control party (TACP) officer candidates examine a map of the area in preparation for a land navigation exercise on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Aug. 27, 2019. Candidates were required to navigate to five different coordinates where a different team challenge awaited them at each new location.

A team of tactical air control party (TACP) officer candidates examine a map of the area in preparation for a land navigation exercise on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Aug. 27, 2019. Candidates were required to navigate to five different coordinates where a different team challenge awaited them at each new location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikayla Heineck)

A Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) Officer Phase Two (TOPT) assessment candidate drags a simulated injured team member out of a tactical village during hands-on training at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Aug. 27, 2019. . The simulated combat environments and stressful situations created during TOPT allows the cadre to understand how each candidate behaves and performs under pressure to ensure they are well suited for future operational roles as a TACP officer.

A Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) Officer Phase Two (TOPT) assessment candidate drags a simulated injured team member out of a tactical village during hands-on training at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Aug. 27, 2019. . The simulated combat environments and stressful situations created during TOPT allows the cadre to understand how each candidate behaves and performs under pressure to ensure they are well suited for future operational roles as a TACP officer. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) Officer Phase Two (TOPT) assessment candidates plot the course to their next location to test their survival skills at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Aug. 27, 2019. The TOPT 5-day assessment is designed primarily to create situations that allow candidates the opportunity to demonstrate their aptitude to lead in a stressful environment.

Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) Officer Phase Two (TOPT) assessment candidates plot the course to their next location to test their survival skills at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Aug. 27, 2019. The TOPT 5-day assessment is designed primarily to create situations that allow candidates the opportunity to demonstrate their aptitude to lead in a stressful environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

A team of five tactical air control party (TACP) officer candidates move towards a mock-deployment tactical village to complete a combat leadership objective challenge as part of TOPT selection course phase II on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Aug. 27, 2019. TOPT is the selection process for officers who want to join the TACP career field in the U.S. Air Force.

A team of five tactical air control party (TACP) officer candidates move towards a mock-deployment tactical village to complete a combat leadership objective challenge as part of TOPT selection course phase II on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Aug. 27, 2019. TOPT is the selection process for officers who want to join the TACP career field in the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikayla Heineck)

A U.S. Air Force tactical air control party (TACP) specialist assigned to the 353d Special Warfare Training Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, takes notes as a member of the cadre team evaluating 24 TACP officer candidates during TOPT selection course phase II, on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Aug. 27, 2019. During this phase of selection, experienced TACP officer and enlisted cadre assess candidates throughout a week during 15 graded events that target the specific personality and character attributes that correlate with success in the TACP community.

A U.S. Air Force tactical air control party (TACP) specialist assigned to the 353d Special Warfare Training Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, takes notes as a member of the cadre team evaluating 24 TACP officer candidates during TOPT selection course phase II, on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Aug. 27, 2019. During this phase of selection, experienced TACP officer and enlisted cadre assess candidates throughout a week during 15 graded events that target the specific personality and character attributes that correlate with success in the TACP community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikayla Heineck)

As tactical air control party (TACP) officer candidates head into a mock-deployment tactical village the cadre carrying out the exercise set off M84 stun grenades and simulation tear gas grenades to create a stressful environment in which the candidates are evaluated during TOPT selection course phase II, on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Aug. 27, 2019. During this phase of selection, experienced TACP officer and enlisted cadre assess candidates throughout a week during 15 graded events that target the specific personality and character attributes that correlate with success in the TACP community.
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As tactical air control party (TACP) officer candidates head into a mock-deployment tactical village the cadre carrying out the exercise set off M84 stun grenades and simulation tear gas grenades to create a stressful environment in which the candidates are evaluated during TOPT selection course phase II, on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Aug. 27, 2019. During this phase of selection, experienced TACP officer and enlisted cadre assess candidates throughout a week during 15 graded events that target the specific personality and character attributes that correlate with success in the TACP community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikayla Heineck)

A team of tactical air control party (TACP) officer candidates run back to debrief with cadre after completing a combat leadership exercise in a tactical village on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Aug. 27, 2019. Candidates were evaluated on their performance by experienced TACP officer and enlisted cadre throughout the week as part of the TOPT selection course phase II.
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A team of tactical air control party (TACP) officer candidates run back to debrief with cadre after completing a combat leadership exercise in a tactical village on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Aug. 27, 2019. Candidates were evaluated on their performance by experienced TACP officer and enlisted cadre throughout the week as part of the TOPT selection course phase II. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikayla Heineck)

A team of tactical air control party (TACP) officer candidates navigate to a set of given coordinates as part of a land navigation exercise during the TOPT selection course phase II on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Aug. 27, 2019. Candidates were required to navigate to five different coordinates where a different team challenge for them to be evaluated on awaited them at each new location.
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A team of tactical air control party (TACP) officer candidates navigate to a set of given coordinates as part of a land navigation exercise during the TOPT selection course phase II on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Aug. 27, 2019. Candidates were required to navigate to five different coordinates where a different team challenge for them to be evaluated on awaited them at each new location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikayla Heineck)

A team of tactical air control party (TACP) officer candidates, participating in a land navigation exercise during the TOPT selection course phase II, perform push-ups as an added element of stress while working on a team problem-solving activity Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Aug. 27, 2019. Candidates were evaluated on their performance under high levels of stress by experienced TACP officer and enlisted cadre, as well as Air Force psychologists throughout the week-long selection process.
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 13 of 13

A team of tactical air control party (TACP) officer candidates, participating in a land navigation exercise during the TOPT selection course phase II, perform push-ups as an added element of stress while working on a team problem-solving activity Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Aug. 27, 2019. Candidates were evaluated on their performance under high levels of stress by experienced TACP officer and enlisted cadre, as well as Air Force psychologists throughout the week-long selection process. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mikayla Heineck)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. --

The tactical air control party (TACP) Officer Phase Two (TOPT) assessment was held for the first time at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), Washington, August 24 – 30.

The TOPT assessment evaluates a candidate’s potential to be successful at the TACP schoolhouse and as an officer in the TACP community.

“The five-day course is designed to put the candidates through physical and mentally stressful situations in order assess their leadership ability and leadership potential,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Travis Hunt, 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing chief of TACP officer accessions, and organizer of the TOPT assessment. “Candidates who are selected through this processs, enter the TACP training pipeline to eventually serve as a 13L, TACP officer.”

Although the TOPT assessment is held quarterly at a few different Air Force bases, this was the first time the 5th Air Support Operations Squadron (5 ASOS) on JBLM served as the hosting unit for phase two of the selection process for TACP officer candidates.

“TACP Officer Phase One of the selection process is solely administrative,” explained U.S. Air Force Maj. Matthew McMurtry, 353rd Special Warfare Training Squadron director of operations and TOPT cadre lead. “A panel will review each candidate’s paperwork and select the 25 best candidates to continue onto TACP Officer Phase Two (TOPT).”

In phase two, TOPT, experienced TACP officer and enlisted cadre assess candidates throughout a week during 15 graded events that target the specific personality and character attributes that correlate with success in the TACP community. These events range from physically demanding ruck marches and physical training events to briefs and interviews which assess critical thinking and communication abilities. Teamwork and leadership skills are also assessed throughout the week during many events.

“The assessment is designed primarily to create situations that allow candidates the opportunity to demonstrate their aptitude to lead in a stressful environment,” Hunt said. “Operationally, TACP Officers are asked to work in high-pressure, high-stakes environments performing tasks ranging from mission planning and advising ground force commanders on the integration of Air Force capabilities, to the execution of close air support missions alongside joint and multinational forces. The simulated combat environments and stressful situations we create during TOPT allows the cadre and psychologists to understand how each candidate behaves and performs under pressure to ensure they are well suited for their future operational roles.”

At the end of the week, 12 candidates were hired to begin TACP officer training out of 24 that were assessed throughout TOPT.

U.S. Air Force Col. Kenneth Boillot, 1st ASOG commander, was the hiring authority for TOPT 19-4, and U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Robert Skowronski, 1st ASOG chief enlisted manager, served as his senior enlisted advisor for making the selections. Who gets offered slots at the end of TOPT is up to the discretion of the hiring authority, usually the commander of the closest TACP unit.

“The TACP officer accessions program has been executed by Air Combat Command since it began about 10 years ago,” Hunt said. “All active duty 13L’s [TACP officers] are assessed and selected through this program. By hosting the event at JBLM, the 1 ASOG enabled increased involvement from Pacific Air Forces Command TACP’s. We plan to continue holding at least one assessment each year at JBLM to assure all members of the TACP community have the opportunity to participate in the selection and development of its future leaders.”

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