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Tactical Air Control Squadron TWELVE 

In 2018, President Xi Jinping boarded a People's Liberation Army Navy destroyer and remarked, “The task of building a powerful navy has never been as urgent as it is today.”  Later that year, the  National Defense Strategy (NDS) of 2018 charged that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) “seeks Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term, and displacement of the United States to achieve global preeminence in the future.”  Four years later, the NDS of 2022 echoed those words with a fact sheet where two of the four priorities explicitly listed the PRC as the pacing threat.  

To combat these peer and near-peer adversaries, the United States Navy and Marine Corps are exploring new ways to enable distributed lethality.  Emerging concepts such as Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) and Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO) will disaggregate surface action groups and fleets, allowing Navy and Marine Corps forces to persist, deter, and strike enemy forces.  In April 2022, USS TRIPOLI (LHA 7) embarked 20 F-35B aircraft from Marine Aircraft Group 13, eclipsing the previous record of 18 F-35B aircraft embarked aboard British aircraft carrier HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH (R08).  Tactical Air Control Squadron TWELVE (TACRON 12) directly enabled the safe operation of 20 F-35B during carrier qualifications and throughout multiple exercises embarked aboard USS TRIPOLI (LHA 7). 

The execution of the assault carrier concept proved that distributed lethality and DMO are not just buzzwords, but represent a new paradigm of operations for naval amphibious forces.  Operational TACRON detachments are comprised of rates that include Air Traffic Controller (AC), Operational Specialist (OS), Yeoman (YN), Information Specialist (IS), and Information Systems Technician (IT).  With its complement of Officers and Sailors, TACRON 12 detachments support traditional amphibious operations, as well as pioneer emerging operating concepts that are instrumental to enable DMO and EABO, ensuring the freedom of the sea lines of communication in the Indo-Pacific Theater. 

The Crucible of Battle 

TACRON integration for increased lethality is not novel or new.  The emerging concept of EABO has roots that trace to World War II, when TACRONs formed as a direct result of wartime experiences during the island-hopping campaign against Japan.  Wartime experience highlighted the necessity for an organization specifically trained in the control of air support for amphibious operations.  As the Navy and Marine Corps normalize operations in the Indo-Pacific Theater, TACRON 12 will leverage its proud history of amphibious integration, formed through a legacy of sustained operations abroad. 

The TACRON 12 history is shaped by battle.  During the Korean War, TACRON 12 proved instrumental during the amphibious landings at Pohang Dong, Wonsan, Hungnam, and Inchon.  Just over a decade later during the Vietnam War, TACRON 12 coordinated the search and rescue for the only Navy aces of the war, LT Randy "Duke" Cunningham and LT Willie "Irish" Driscoll.  Beyond directing aircraft for personnel recovery, TACRON 12 also conducted “hunter-killer'' operations, operating from USS DENVER (LPD 9) and USS CLEVELANT (LPD 7), and controlling AH-1J Cobra intercepts against North Vietnamese surface vessels moving supplies ashore. 

Nearly 30 years later, TACRON 12 supported Operations DESERT SHIELD in 1990, DESERT STORM in 1991, and DESERT SABRE later that same year.  In the decade that followed, TACRON 12 supported Operation SOUTHERN WATCH from 1992 to 2003 and DESERT FOX in 1998, which supported United Nations sanctions against Iraq and enforced the “no-fly” zone in southern Iraq. 

In addition to support to combat operations, TACRON 12 history includes extensive contributions to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations..  During Operation FIERY VIGIL, TACRON 12 assisted with the evacuation of more than 22,000 civilians after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, Philippines in June of 1991.  In 1992, the Sailors of TACRON 12 controlled air assets in Somalia in support of Operation PROVIDE RELIEF, which airlifted food and supplies, followed by Operation UNITED SHIELD in 1995 that provided humanitarian relief and evacuated U.N. personnel.  In 1994, TACRON 12 detachments participated in refugee relief efforts during Operation SUPPORT HOPE.  In April 2001, TACRON 12 participated in Operation STABILIZE and Project HANDCLASP, which provided humanitarian assistance to the people of civil-war-torn East Timor. 

Final Statement 

The storied past of TACRON 12 and recent accomplishments are a direct result of the Sailors and Marines who count among its members.  The fighting men and women of TACRON 12 stand ready for operations worldwide, ready to fight at a moment’s notice. 

Other notable TACRON operations during the Vietnam War Include: 

TACRON TWELVE awards listed in precedence: 


-Joint Meritorious Unit Award (Kuwait) 
-Navy Unit Commendation 
-Meritorious Unit Commendation 
-Battle Efficiency Award 
-Navy Expeditionary Medal 
-Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal 
-Vietnam Service Medal 
-Southwest Asia Service Medal 
-Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal  
-Humanitarian Service Medal 
-Sea Service Deployment Ribbon 
-Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation 
-Republic of Vietnam Campaign 
-Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) 
-Kuwait Liberation Medal



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Commander, Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 12

2378 Rendova Rd
San Diego, CA 92155

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