Special Tactics Nutrition Guide
A detailed outline of what to eat when you're training for a Special Tactics career.
Special Tactics Pre-Assessment Workout Guide
A detailed fitness preparation workout program for those entering Special Tactics career fields.
Pre-Assessment Nutrition Guide
25-Week ST Prep Workout
Planning and Decision Making
More Patriot Hearts
Basic Reading List
JPUB 5-0 Joint Planning
How Innovative Is Your Company's Culture
Sixteen Cases of Mission Command
Advanced Reading List
Physical Ability and Stamina Test for CCT:
How long does it take to become a Combat Controller?
The combat control career field requires 35 weeks of training and unique mission skills earn them the right to wear the scarlet beret.
What is Combat Control?
Air Force Special Operations Command's combat controllers are Battlefield Airmen assigned to special tactics squadrons. They are trained special operations forces and certified FAA air traffic controllers. The mission of a combat controller is to deploy, undetected, into combat and hostile environments to establish assault zones or airfields, while simultaneously conducting air traffic control, fire support, command and control, direct action, counter-terrorism, foreign internal defense, humanitarian assistance and special reconnaissance in the joint arena. Visit Airforce.com/SpecialWarfare to learn more and get connected with a Special Warfare recruiter.
How do I become a Combat Controller?
Combat controllers are among the most highly trained personnel in the U.S. military. They maintain air traffic control qualification skills throughout their careers; many qualify and maintain currency in joint terminal attack control procedures, in addition to other special operations skills. Their 35-week training and unique mission skills earn them the right to wear the scarlet beret. Visit Airforce.com/SpecialWarfare to learn more and get connected with a Special Warfare recruiter to start the application process.
Physical Ability and Stamina Test
What is Special Reconnaissance?
Special Reconnaissance Airmen are Special Tactics operators with unique training to conduct multi-domain reconnaissance and surveillance across the spectrum of conflict with focus on lethal and non-lethal air to ground integration of airpower. They deploy rapidly and undetected by any means, anytime, and anywhere to systematically – and with impunity – obtain, transmit, exploit, and action time-sensitive information. U.S. Air Force Special Reconnaissance employ as elements of Special Tactics teams to prepare the environment, ensure global battlespace awareness, provide global access, and effect air, space, cyberspace, and information superiority for the successful execution of Joint Force objectives.
How do I become a Special Reconnaissance Airmen?
The SR career field is small and selective, and is only in Special Tactics. To become a SR Airman, you will go through approximately two years of special operations and reconnaissance training, learning to operate at the highest level. Visit Airforce.com/SpecialWarfare to learn more and get connected with a Special Warfare recruiter to start the application process.
What is Pararescue?
Air Force Pararescuemen, also known as PJs, are the only Department of Defense specialty specifically trained and equipped to conduct conventional or unconventional rescue operations. These Battlefield Airmen are the ideal force for personnel recovery and combat search and rescue. The majority of Pararescuemen fall under traditional rescue squadrons in Air Combat Command. A small number of PJ's are assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command and are a vital member of Special Tactics teams leading Personnel Recovery operations for U.S. Special Operations Command.
A PJ's primary function is as a personnel recovery specialist, with emergency medical capabilities in humanitarian and combat environments. PJs deploy in any available manner, to include air-land-sea tactics, into restricted environments to authenticate, extract, treat, stabilize and evacuate injured personnel, while acting in an enemy-evading, recovery role. Learn more about pararescue HERE.
How long does it take to become a Pararescueman?
Pararescuemen endure some of the toughest training offered in the U.S. military. They complete the same technical training as EMT-Paramedics, plus specialized training which takes about a year and a half to complete. To learn more about Pararescue training, applications and to get connected with a Special Warfare recruiter click HERE
TACTICAL AIR CONTROL PARTY AIRMEN
How do I become a Special Tactics TACP Airman?
Only 5-10% of TACPs are Special Tactics TACP Airmen; the majority of TACPs belong to Air Combat Command and support conventional Army units with precision air strike and air power communication capabilities. To become an ST TACP, you must first have experience within the TACP career field, and then apply and be specially selected for Special Tactics. See the ST TACP application for more info on requirements.
What does it take?
8 pull-ups in 2 minutes
60 sit-ups in 2 minutes
48 push-ups in 2 minutes
3 miles, non-stop, completed within 24 minutes
Combat Water Survival Test
12-mile road march with 50-pound (dry) rucksack and weapon in under 3 hours
Physical Ability and Stamina test for STO and CRO:
What is a Special Tactics Officer?
Special Tactics Airmen are elite special operators uniquely skilled in commanding and controlling operations integrating air and ground capabilities, often necessary in special operations, to achieve battlefield objectives. Special Tactics Officers (STOs) lead Special Tactics Teams (STTs) in preparation for worldwide contingency operations both in hostile and austere environments, ranging from counterterrorism missions to global humanitarian assistance operations. While working alongside joint and coalition SOF partners, STOs coordinate employment of STTs at all levels of command to provide: global access for force projection; precision strike, i.e. close air support, combined arms, and strategic attack; personnel recovery/combat search and rescue, and battlefield trauma surgery.
As leaders responsible for delivering highly specialized capabilities outside the realm of conventional warfare, they are experts in planning and executing special reconnaissance, strike, and recovery missions. STOs are trained in military static-line and free fall employment techniques, combat dive, demolition, and joint terminal attack control, they competently lead this effective, lethal fighting force by creative problem solving, will power, and dedication to their team members.
What is a Combat Rescue Officer?
Combat Rescue Officers lead teams of Pararescuemen and other operators in support of Personnel Recovery missions, ranging from hostile engagements to humanitarian aid missions. Most CROs fall under Air Combat Command, however a small amount are part of Special Tactics Teams assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command leading Personnel Recovery operations for U.S. Special Operations Command. The 24th Special Operations Wing, the Air Force's only Special Tactics wing, hosts initial assessment and selection for potential AFSOC and ACC Combat Rescue Officers. For more information on how to apply see the STO/CRO application.
What Special Tactics careers are available to officers?
Special Tactics has two career fields open to qualified officer candidates: Combat Rescue Officer and Special Tactics Officer. To learn more about these career fields, e-mail 24SOWSTTS.ASSESSMENTS.RAS@us.af.mil and a Special Tactics Recruitment Liaison will contact you.
Special Operations Surgical Teams (SOST) – consists of active-duty Air Force medical professionals including trauma surgeons, emergency physicians, nurse anesthetists, surgical scrub techs, critical-care nurses, and respiratory techs. They are charged with providing far-forward medical care during combat operations wherever the U.S. military is engaged. When not on active deployment, the team trains in surgery, in trauma centers and in intensive-care units. These small, but effective teams partner with special operations forces from all branches and as well as foreign partners. For more information visit the Battlefield Surgery page under the Special Tactics tab, check out the application above and email any questions to 720OSS.SOST.firstname.lastname@example.org
Special Tactics is the Air Force's Special Operations ground combat forces. Special Tactics teams execute Special Operations missions to enhance air operations deep in enemy territory, or in remote locations in rugged terrain.
Qualifying reservists must become full-time active duty to pursue careers in all Special Tactics career fields. For any one interested in Special Tactics for Air National Guard visit their website For reservists interested in becoming a Special Operations Surgical team member email 720OSS.SOST.email@example.com
Take a trip to your local recruiter, and let them know what you want to do. They will get you in touch with the regional Special Warfare Recruiter to mentor you through the enlistment process. Consult the other pages on this website for specific information regarding each career field. To find a recruiter visit Airforce.com/Specialwarfare
For enlisted members below the rank of E-6, visit myPers and click the retraining link. So long as you are eligible, myPers will send you instructions for completing a retraining package for your desired career field. Once your package is screened, you will be invited to attend either the Combat Controller/Pararescue Retraining Assessment at Hurlburt Field, Fla.
Visit your local Air Force Recruiter and let them walk you through the cross-service transfer process. However, understand that cross-service slots are limited and vary by career field. Depending on availability, you may have to wait until October 1st for the next fiscal year to start.
A link near the top of this page will provide you with detailed instructions about how to apply to become a STO. If your Phase 1 application is approved, you will be invited to attend Phase 2: A week-long, bi-annual selection event conducted at Hurlburt Field, Fla. It is extremely challenging, and should only be attempted after extensive mental and physical preparation. Consult the workout and nutrition guides to help properly prepare for the selection.
Bottom line up front: TACPs are conventional and support conventional forces, whereas Combat Controllers are SOF and support USSOCOM.
Combat Controllers are trained in a wide variety of skillsets—air traffic control, SCUBA, military freefall, etc.—and belong to Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), which directly supports United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). They regularly support joint special operations forces (SOF) and spend their entire operational career within Air Force Special Tactics (ST).
Tactical Air Control Party members specialize in synchronizing air assets into the ground battlespace, and work closely with the conventional Army to manage large area of operations. They belong to Air Combat Command (ACC), and therefore are not SOF. After TACPs have completed their training pipeline and gained some experience at their ACC units, they can apply to attend the SOF TACP selection, and be hired into Special Tactics.
Both Combat Controllers and TACPs can become Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs), and control air-to-ground munitions employment in close air support situations for their respective supported units.
While the Air Force Special Tactics community encompasses Combat Controllers, Special Reconnaisance, Pararescue, and Tactical Air Control Party, Airmen interested in those enlisted specialties must apply through the Air Force Special Warfare pipeline first. Visit airforce.com/SpecialWarfare for info and to find a recruiter.
The 24th Special Operations Wing's Special Tactics Training Squadron holds selection and assessments for: Special Tactics Officers, Combat Rescue Officers, ST TACP Officers, ST TACP Enlisted, and Special Operations Surgical Team members.
Applications for those assessments and training recommendations are also found on this page. It is strongly recommended that you train extensively before you enter the "training pipeline" to become a Special Tactics operator or Special Operations Surgical Team member.
We have an "FAQs" section below that will answer some of your questions, and we ask if you have specific questions on specific Special Tactics roles to use the resources in the "Contact List" below to address any questions you may have.
For general recruiting/careerfield questions:
Special Tactics Officer (STO) and ST TACP (enlisted and officer) questions email : STO.Recruiter@us.af.mil
Combat Rescue Officer (CRO) questions: CRO.Selection@us.af.mil
SOST questions: 720OSS.SOST.firstname.lastname@example.org
For application/assessment questions: 24SOWSTTS.ASSESSMENTS.RAS@us.af.mil
Air Force Retraining
Prior Service Enlistment
Interservice Transfer Program
Air National Guard