• Please take a moment and update your account profile. If you have an updated account profile with basic information on why you are on Air Warriors it will help other people respond to your posts. How do you update your profile you ask?

    Go here:

    Edit Account Details and Profile

Navy JTACs?

ChiccinTendies

New Member
I like telling people, and not just you, that they need to understand how the Navy works. I do not say this to be mean, but don't plan on doing the "one-off" cool-sounding jobs. It's good to have a goal, but at some point you have to make tradeoffs (in your case, carrier aviation & culture vs. other things you might want to do). You also have to remember that goal may be limited to a very specific timeline in your career path only for you to be told: "sorry, your timing doesn't work." I remember being in your shoes thinking: "oh man the Navy has so many opportunities; I want to do them all," but the reality is everyone on the officer side is owned by a "community" within the Navy, that has to be willing to give you up for the vast majority of the "cool" opportunities that are not immediately on the path/billeted for that community. Also, each job is specifically for a specific rank and timeline +/-. Additionally, once you get off one path, it can be very difficult to get back on it; I say this because I remember thinking as a brand new Midshipman something along the lines of: "oh man, I'll fly one tour, go instruct, then do some random other cool super tactical thing, at this point I'll be old enough to want to settle down a bit, go to grad school, I'll be schooled up, go back to flying, then become an attache, then go back to flying again... yadda yadda yadda" but it's not exactly like that. There's a set path, with limited options, and while there are some off ramps, they are often permanent off-ramps, and most of those are highly selective and timing dependent, plus your community has to be willing to give you up.
Haha, that is how I think about it a lot, even though I know it's stupid. I don't think I'll stop thinking like that until I actually experience it and get all of my childlike dreams crushed lol. I guess the better question is, since the Marine Corps is all about FAC tours, and they're not rare at all, what are the chances of me being able to fly with a carrier-based squadron in the Marine Corps, assuming I even make it that far? I heard Dave Berke on the Jocko Podcast mention that because he was with a squadron that deployed off carriers, he didn't even feel like a real Marine. On the other hand, am I overestimating how fulfilling it would be to deploy with a carrier? All Marine Corps jet pilots train with carriers, so just doing it in training would maybe be enough to give me my fix, right? This has all probably been asked before, so are there any good threads I can read directly comparing the career outlooks for both branches for wannabe jet pilots?
 

Slingblade

Huge Member
pilot
If you really want to be super tacticool doing the FAC thing don't do the FAC thing. Go enlist now, get a combat arms MOS, show some talent and an understanding of fire support early on, become a JFO, then go to TACP school to get qualified as a JTAC. This can be done as early as Corporal, but most likely by Sergeant. (There is your first 4 year enlistment and if you have accomplished all of that by then you are definitely showing great promise). Once you have gotten your fix doing that, then go ahead and do the officer thing as prior enlisted. Pick any branch you choose Air Force, Navy or Marine Corps and go all out in your aviation career.

Reason I say this from a Marine Corps perspective is being a Marine FAC (Meaning a Marine Aviator who goes to TACP school) isn't what it was back when I did it (2005). Back then there were not many JTAC's (Non Aviator graduates of TACP school) in the Marine Corps. Each Battalion had 3 FAC's (Officers from the aviation MOS's.) One was the Air Officer, other two were Company FAC's. That is not how it is done now. Battalion will still get 3xFAC's, but one is an Air Officer, one is an assistant Air Officer, and the other most likely goes with the weapons company.

The Line companies (is what I think you are after based on your posts) are mostly filled by enlisted JTAC's. FAC's on the other hand are most likely filling the actual billet of Air Officer. They are still qualified controllers, but the Air Officer acts in a different capacity than what you are probably thinking. Think Battalion, Regimental Staff. They hold a big responsibility as planners and the ones responsible for the integration of the Tactical Air Control Party (TACP). If you were a prior enlisted JTAC and then turned successful Aviator you could always go be an Air Officer (FAC, 7502) down the road. You would probably be pretty damn good at it with that kind of experience if all went well during those stages.

Bottom line FAC does not equal being in the shit with your M4 while you clear Hornets hot over your shoulder. JTAC's do that now and those guys are enlisted. The real high speed ones (MARSOC types) are mostly likely Staff NCO's that were well established JTAC's in their respective communities (Battalion, Recon, ANGLICO) prior to that and noted as very talented for that type of work.
 

insanebikerboy

Internet killed the television star
pilot
None
Contributor
How rare and how difficult? I'm leaning Navy over Marines (it looks like nothing beats carrier ops, and the culture/other jobs in the Navy interest me more), but if doing at least one tour as a FAC or something similar is something I really, really would want to do in my lifetime, then does that disqualify the Navy from being my first choice? Obviously I would choose whatever branch gives me a flying slot, but it's nice to think about what I would choose in a perfect world.

PS Have you ever heard of fires officers with SWCC/Special Boat Teams? I know that they are a purely enlisted community, so at that point wouldn't you also be the Officer in Charge?
DanMa hit the nail on the head. I was lucky and hit a weird timing window due to the Navy shutting down my squadron, worked some contacts I have and got my JTAC qual. I was even working a pretty unique deployment with some folks to use said qual and then timing struck again and my squadron stood back up. So, I lost out on that deployment. Timing is everything.

The ultimate point, opportunities arise to do stuff like this but they are few and far in between. Yeah, there is an occasional NSW fires O billet or an ANGLICO, but when they do come available they are hard to get.

If you come in to fly, expect to fly. Be a good dude, learn your aircraft, and if a chance like this arises the toss your hat in the ring. Worst they can do is say no, but don’t come in with the expectation you’ll do a FAC/JTAC/Fires O job as a pilot becaus odds are you’ll end up disappointed.
 

ChiccinTendies

New Member
If I'm being honest, I just want to be "tacticool" doing something, as long as it's out in the field. FAC just happened to something I saw that I thought was relatively possible. Air Commandos with AFSOC seemed really interesting, but they don't have tactical jets (which is understandable given their mission). I really really do want to fly, I'm just putting the cart before the horse right now I guess.
 

Python1287

Well-Known Member
pilot
Contributor
If I'm being honest, I just want to be "tacticool" doing something, as long as it's out in the field. FAC just happened to something I saw that I thought was relatively possible. Air Commandos with AFSOC seemed really interesting, but they don't have tactical jets (which is understandable given their mission). I really really do want to fly, I'm just putting the cart before the horse right now I guess.
Im glad you’re able to be honest with yourself. I think you just need a big dose of expectation management.
 

wlawr005

Well-Known Member
pilot
Contributor
The thread is old, but one of the guys is talking about how SWOs were at the time able to become OICs, so I really don't think it's much of a stretch for anyone involved with NSW to have the opportunity to do that. What makes a Seal significantly more qualified to command a small boat than say, an EOD with NSW? I'm guessing that they probably just say Seals because the vast majority of NSW officers happen to be Seals.
EOD is not NSW, it's considered Special Operations. That split occurred sometime around 2008.

More to your question, SWCC directly supports NSW operations, not EOD. SWOs at one point worked as Riverine OICs but again, Riverine does not equal SWCC.
 
Last edited:

Brett327

Well-Known Member
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
If I'm being honest, I just want to be "tacticool" doing something, as long as it's out in the field. FAC just happened to something I saw that I thought was relatively possible. Air Commandos with AFSOC seemed really interesting, but they don't have tactical jets (which is understandable given their mission). I really really do want to fly, I'm just putting the cart before the horse right now I guess.
If your only motivation is to be “tacticool,” why not become a SEAL?
Your view of military service seems heavily influenced by Hollywood. As others have wisely said, you need a huge dose of expectation management. You’re setting yourself up for a huge disappointment.
 

ChiccinTendies

New Member
If your only motivation is to be “tacticool,” why not become a SEAL?
Your view of military service seems heavily influenced by Hollywood. As others have wisely said, you need a huge dose of expectation management. You’re setting yourself up for a huge disappointment.
My main motivation is to fly jets; I'm probably just getting distracted by those recruitment videos and documentaries that present the special operations community as a group of mystical beings. Mystique is definitely something that piques my interest, even if it isn't really what I want to do deep down. I'm probably conflating "secret" with "fun."
 

Brett327

Well-Known Member
None
Super Moderator
Contributor
Statistically, you will be more likely to be flying a helo or P-8, not an F-18.
 

AllAmerican75

Back to School!
None
How rare and how difficult? PS Have you ever heard of fires officers with SWCC/Special Boat Teams? I know that they are a purely enlisted community, so at that point wouldn't you also be the Officer in Charge?
Very and very. From a career perspective, doing a non-traditional tour (which is what NSW tours are for non-NSW and non-RL/Staff Corps types) is not seen as career enhancing and will likely take you off of the "Golden Path." Each officer community is focused on ensuring that each officer hits the correct wickets at the correct time so that they have enough O5s or O6s (Restricted Line communities often look at O6 numbers) who are eligible for command to fill all of the available billets. Stepping off of the "Golden Path" to hit those wickets can seriously harm you, especially in a field like Aviation where you need to have proficiency in your aircraft to properly lead your squadron. SWOs are less picky but that's because they don't have the luxury of high retention numbers.

The thread is old, but one of the guys is talking about how SWOs were at the time able to become OICs, so I really don't think it's much of a stretch for anyone involved with NSW to have the opportunity to do that. What makes a Seal significantly more qualified to command a small boat than say, an EOD with NSW? I'm guessing that they probably just say Seals because the vast majority of NSW officers happen to be Seals.
That thread is over 15 years old and much has changed in both the Surface and SPECWAR communities. There are NSW support positions open for SWOs but they are not doing high speed, low drag, pointy tip of the spear stuff. You will be in the rear with the gear on the powerpointy end of the spear managing an support detachment in the TOC. SWCC officers are now SEALs or SWCC Warrant Officers. Even if you were to do a SWCC tour as a SWO (in the very minute possibility), it would not be as a door kicker but as an admin bubba. Most of the time, being an officer is largely an administrative role with a small part of your time spent doing cool shit. I'm sure our resident zipper-suited sun gods would agree that they spend more time in meetings, filling out paperwork, and chopping evals than they do zooming around the sky.

If I'm being honest, I just want to be "tacticool" doing something, as long as it's out in the field. FAC just happened to something I saw that I thought was relatively possible. Air Commandos with AFSOC seemed really interesting, but they don't have tactical jets (which is understandable given their mission). I really really do want to fly, I'm just putting the cart before the horse right now I guess.
Like most young men, it sounds like you want to be the cool guy doing cool stuff. I don't blame you, but you're going to have to choose what that means at some point. The SOF community requires absolute dedication and so does aviation. As much as you may want to do everything, you can't do it all. If you want to go SOF, I would recommend finding a SOF recruiter for whatever service you want to join and start working with them to enlist. It is much easier to enlist and then go officer than it is to try and initially go officer into the SOF community (refer back to the need to hit the right wickets to qualify for O5 command in a certain amount of time). Also, start lurking SOCNET and getting in good with those guys. They will get you squared away and help you out as long as you show that you're willing to do the work.

If you really want to be a pilot, keep doing what you're doing. That college education comes first and foremost, followed by getting a commission, and then followed by getting to Pensacola (followed by wings, choker whites, platform selection, dining outs, and Thailand stories). Focus on the degree and looking good for selection for either NROTC or OCS. Worry about what aircraft you're going to get once you actually set foot in Pensacola. Be mindful that if you sign on to be an officer (Aviator, SWO, etc.) you are expected to be an officer first and whatever your designator is second. I can tell you from personal experience that you may have to decide which is more important to you and pick from an assortment of sub-optimal choices.

During your first selection during flight training, there is an above average chance that RW will be your only option. Furthermore, there's no way to predict if that will be the case, and you will have no control over it.
Chiccin, don't worry about that, I have yet to meet a helo driver who did not love his job and aircraft. That being said, I have met many who lamented the loss of the mighty Battle Phrog.
 
Top