New squadron specializes in Battlefield Airmen recruiting

  • Published
  • By Danielle Knight
  • Air Force Recruiting Service Public Affairs

The first squadron focused solely on recruiting Battlefield Airmen and combat support career fields stood up in a ceremony June 29 at the Medina Annex on Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland.


The reactivation of the 330th Recruiting Squadron, Air Force Recruiting Service’s 28th squadron, marks the first time in Air Force history that a unit will be dedicated to recruiting men and women for hard-to-fill positions within Special Tactics, special operations and combat support roles.


The reactivation began with members of the Battlefield Airmen Training Group and the 330th RCS freefalling into the ceremony with the squadron guidon and the American Flag. Col. Ron Stenger, BATG commander and a Special Tactics officer, passed the guidon to Col. Robert Trayers, AFRS vice commander, and former commander of the 330th RCS when it was deactivated back in 2009.


Following the jump, members of the 330th RCS participated in memorial pushups at the Lt. Col. William Schroeder Memorial, named after Lt. Col. William Schroeder, a career special operations weather officer, who was killed in 2016.


“Memorial pushups are a tradition in our community to recognize and honor our fallen comrades,” said Master Sgt. Benjamin Hannigan, a liaison to AFRS from the 24th Special Operations Wing. “They are usually done after strenuous physical activity, because our fallen comrades did more than their physical body could. Our physical sacrifice of remembrance could never match up to their sacrifice.”


Shortly after the memorial pushups, the official party moved into the Lt. Col. Schroeder Auditorium for the assumption of command ceremony. Trayers provided remarks about the squadron’s heritage.


“It’s great to be able to reactivate this squadron with a great team and new leaders,” Trayers said. “You now have the important responsibility of recruiting the folks you want at the tip of the spear of our nation.”


The reason for activating the 330th RCS was to overcome the challenges of recruiting and training Special Tactics and Battlefield Airmen, said Trayers.


Since the standup of the BATG in 2016 to the beginning of the current prep course, this activation completes the span between recruiting and training in the of the revolutionary new Special Operations recruiting model.


 “What you see before you is an Air Force Chief of Staff directed fix to a 21 year problem,” said Maj. Heath Kerns, 330th RCS commander after receiving the guidon from Trayers. “Our squadron is exclusively focused on scouting, developing and guiding future Battlefield Airmen and combat support warriors to their combat calling.”


Kerns comes to AFRS with more than a decade of experience as a special tactics officer. The 330th RCS is designed to recruit and access the next generation of Special Tactics operators, Special Operations Airmen and combat support forces, which includes combat controllers, pararescuemen, special operations weathermen, tactical air control party, survival evasion resistance and escape (SERE), and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD).


According to Kerns, this recruiting squadron is necessary because you cannot mass produce special operators.


“The old model of taking someone off the street to recruit for the Battlefield Airmen pipeline showed a 90 percent attrition rate,” he said. “Out of 100 people, only 10 would make it. This was not only a challenge for the recruiting force to have such low numbers on a high level of candidates, but also a large monetary cost for the Air Force itself.”


Previously, a trainee would be assessed and trained by traditional recruiters, attend Basic Military Training, then begin the indoctrination course. Now, recruiters of the 330th RCS train and access potential candidates alongside contract developers, who are retired service members with experience in special operations and combat support roles. The squadron will officially give the Air Force an organization on par with how the Army, Navy and Marines have historically recruited and developed their own respective Special Operations Forces.


“We expect this new process to help us identify the right individuals to be Special Tactics Operators, the men and women who can solve ground problems with air power by carrying out global access, precision strike and personnel recovery missions,” said Col. Claude Tudor, commander of the 24th SOW, the Air Force’s only wing dedicated solely to Special Tactics and U.S. Special Operations Command’s premiere tactical air-to-ground integration force. “With a dedicated and educated recruiting force whose sole focus is to recruit individuals with the fortitude for our mission, we are confident the new focused recruiting model will enhance the probability of the right candidate entering the pipeline…in turn driving up production and affording us more time to develop each Special Tactics operator.”


Master Sgt. Richard Geren, a 330th RCS flight chief for the Texas area, spoke on the importance of selecting the right candidates for Battlefield Airmen and combat support missions.


“First, we make sure they are qualified for the Air Force,” Geren said. “Once we know they are qualified, we see if they are a good fit to become a Battlefield Airman.”


According to Geren, a good fit includes the right mindset, attitude and understanding of the demands of the Battlefield Airmen career fields.


“I want to sit down with every person to explain the ins and outs of every single job we are recruiting for,” he said. “I also want to share stories and examples of what a pararescueman or combat controller’s worst day might be. It’s not all Hollywood and cool gear. It’s about hard work, determination and teamwork.”


Similarly, recruiters took a unique approach to understanding the career fields they seek candidates for by immersing themselves in to Battlefield Airmen training.  Kerns commended the squadron for attending the week-long indoctrination before activing the squadron and then closed the ceremony by speaking directly to the 330th RCS members.


“We will become an audacious display of innovation and collaboration,” he said. “We will succeed in bringing the highest quality of warriors the Air Force and the world has ever seen. You embody these qualities; they are forged through a pursuit of personal excellence and enduring great challenge so that you can inspire young men and women to follow you to their combat calling."


*Editor's note: This article was originally published by Air Force Recruiting Service on June 29, 2018.