USMC Joint Terminal Attack Controller Job Description (MOS 8002)

JTAC-trained Marines play a critical role in air combat

.S. Marine Corps joint terminal attack controllers (JTAC) work a close-air support mission from

MSgt Kevin Wallace / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 4.0"

In the military, all branches have members in their units who communicate with air assets for a variety of missions. Calling in close air support (CAS) is the primary mission of the members with Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) training. JTAC is the term used in the United States Armed Forces for a service member who is qualified to make these communications with aircraft directing where to drop bombs, missiles, and bullets. The JTAC-trained Marine deals with mainly the offensive air operations of allied aircraft while deployed in a forward position near or actively engaged with enemy troops and equipment.

The Marine who has the JTAC certification is also known as the Forward Air Controller (FAC) with many of our allied countries and is how our country used to refer to them. The JTAC is more of a certification, but in the Marine Corps, it is also an MOS. The MOS 8002 is primarily responsible for calling in close air support to a forward location. You do not need to be JTAC certified to make these kinds of radio requests, as officers and radiomen make close air support calls when needed as well. 

JTAC Details

Type of MOS: Primary Military Occupational Specialty (8002)

Rank Range: MGySgt to SSgt

Job Description: This MOS requires formal Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) training and certification. It forms the foundation skill set for assignment to appropriate JTAC billet in the Operating Forces. A JTAC is a certified service member, who from a forward position directs the action of combat aircraft engaged in close air support (CAS), and other offensive air operations. A qualified and current JTAC will be recognized across DoD as capable and authorized to perform terminal attack control.

Only Training and Readiness (T&R) qualified and current JTACs may conduct Close Air Support (CAS) training operations without specified instructor supervision. Training must be documented and certified in the JTAC training record.

Requirements: In the United States, Marine Corps future MOS 8002s must meet the following requirements:

  • They must be a Noncommissioned Officer or above and must have a combat arms Military Occupational Specialty with one year of operational experience.
  • Must complete JTAC primer course via MarineNet (distance online training).
  • Graduate from the Special Operations Spotter Course (SOSC).
  • Graduate from the  Expeditionary Warfare Training Group (EWTG) Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) course. 

Upon successful completion of the TACP Course, the JTAC will be designated combat capable, receive MOS 8002 JTAC, and will return to his unit for completion of the Training and Readiness requirements.

JTAC Importance in the Field

Close air support has been useful since the invention of airplanes with bombs on them. The ability to communicate with fast-moving airplanes from ground positions behind enemy lines has been the key to many successes in the Global War on Terror in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Having a designated team member who is also a ground fighter but fully capable of communicating to the planes, jets, and helicopters the exact location to drop ordnance is an asset that all units need. Not all units have a designated JTAC member, so that cross-training has to be done by many members of the ground forces, infantry or special ops unit. Being able to speak "pilot" is critical to the success of many missions especially when outnumbered by a larger force. 

Job Requirements

  • Must have a GT score of 110 or higher on the ASVAB.
  • JTAC must be a staff noncommissioned officer (E-6 or above).
  • Must have a secret security clearance based on ENTNAC or NAC.
  • Must have normal color vision/correctable to 20/20.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen.
  • Must have at least two years of obligated time in service remaining upon completion of TACP course.

For a complete listing of duties and tasks, refer to the JTAC portions of the "USMC Training and Readiness Manual."

Related Department of Labor Occupation Codes: No civilian equivalent

Related Marine Corps Jobs: Ground Combat Arms Staff Sergeant.

In Action: JTAC Video in Afghanistan