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Combat Control

Combat Controllers are trained special operations forces and certified FAA air traffic controllers. Their mission is to deploy undetected into hostile combat and austere 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.

Their motto "First There" reaffirms the combat controller's commitment to undertaking the most dangerous missions behind enemy lines by leading the way for other forces to follow.
 

Operations

Combat controllers operate all over the world.

Air Force Special Operations Command's combat controllers are Special Tactics Airmen assigned to Special Tactics squadrons within the 24th Special Operations Wing, as well as the 321st Special Tactics Squadron, RAF Mildenhall, U.K., and 320th Special Tactics Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan. They are highly trained special operations forces who integrate air power into the special operations battlespace.

Capabilities

Move, shoot and communicate.

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.

Their motto, "First There," reaffirms the combat controller's commitment to undertaking the most dangerous missions behind enemy lines by leading the way for other forces to follow.

'FIRST THERE': The History

Today’s combat controller stems from the U.S. Army Corps’ Pathfinders, who guided bomber and fighter aircraft to targets during World War II.

Major parachute assaults fell well short of expectations; in some cases with personnel being air dropped as much as 30 miles from their intended target areas.
The shortcomings of these operations identified the need for effective guidance and control of air transported combat forces.

Thus, a small parachute scout company of Army pathfinders was organized and trained. Their mission was to precede the main assault force to an objective area and, through the use of high powered lights, flares and smoke pots, provide visual guidance and critical weather information to inbound aircraft.

Extensive involvement in Vietnam helped form the basis of combat control operating methods in use today. Tailpipes, as they were commonly referred to in those days, assisted during countless airlifts. They helped to assure mission safety, expedite air traffic flow, and coordinate with local agencies and airlift control elements.

Today’s combat controller stems from the U.S. Army Corps’ Pathfinders, who guided bomber and fighter aircraft to targets during World War II.
Major parachute assaults fell well short of expectations; in some cases with personnel being air dropped as much as 30 miles from their intended target areas.

The shortcomings of these operations identified the need for effective guidance and control of air transported combat forces.

Thus, a small parachute scout company of Army pathfinders was organized and trained. Their mission was to precede the main assault force to an objective area and, through the use of high powered lights, flares and smoke pots, provide visual guidance and critical weather information to inbound aircraft.
Extensive involvement in Vietnam helped form the basis of combat control operating methods in use today. Tailpipes, as they were commonly referred to in those days, assisted during countless airlifts.

They helped to assure mission safety, expedite air traffic flow, and coordinate with local agencies and airlift control elements.

Because of their unique capabilities and quick reaction time, combat controllers have been instrumental in the resolution of several international emergencies and humanitarian relief efforts. When earthquakes devastated parts of Guatemala, Peru and Nicaragua, combat controllers were the first in and were the only communications link to relief headquarters.

Combat controllers were a part of the huge pre-strike build-up of the United Nation coalition during operation Desert Shield. Combat controllers were heavily involved in the air traffic control, air-to-ground operations, and assault actions that liberated Kuwait from Iraq during the ensuing Desert Storm campaign. Combat controllers also provided extensive air traffic control for the airlift that provided humanitarian relief to Kurdish refugees fleeing into northern Iraq.

Because of their unique capabilities, CCT members have played a huge role in Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Since 9/11, combat controllers have earned some of the Nation's highest honors such as the Silver Star, Air Force Cross, and Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism in combat operations.

Take the Challenge

Click here for to learn more and join us. If you want more information, please contact your local Special Warfare Recruiter. Visit airforce.com/specialwarfare for more information. For questions on cross-training into Special Tactics, please contact the Recruiting, Assessment and Selection section at 24SOWSTTS.ASSESSMENTS.RAS@us.af.mil or 850-884-8094.

Training

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 like infiltration skills and combat diver and demolition qualifications.

Their 83-week training and unique mission skills earn them the right to wear the scarlet beret:

Basic Military Training (BMT), 8 weeks, Lackland Air Force Base, TX- The first step to becoming an Airman happens in BMT where trainees learn military structure, the core values of the U.S. Air Force, and to prepare both mentally and physically for life as an Airman.

Special Warfare Preparatory Course (SW PREP), 8 weeks, Lackland AFB, TX- If they have what it takes to join Air Force Special Warfare, it will be revealed here. Candidates will undergo intense strength and conditioning training by running, rucking and swimming extensively. They'll also learn about the rich history of Special Warfare, Esprit De Corps and ultimately take the Physical Ability and Stamina Test (PAST) to see if they'll move on to tech training.

Special Warfare Assessment and Selection Course, 4 weeks, Lackland AFB, TX- This is the moment candidates must prove they are worthy to advance in CCT training or find another career field.

Special Warfare Pre-Dive Course, 4 weeks, Lackland AFB, TX- Pre-dive prepares candidates physically and mentally for the rigors of combat dive school. It consists of intense calisthenics, middle- and long-distance running, swimming, and, most importantly, water-confidence training.

Special Warfare Combat Dive Course, 5 weeks, Panama City, FL- Becoming an expert diver happens here. Building upon what they learned during the pre-dive course, CCTs undergo extensive combat dive training so they can wield airpower whenever, wherever

Airborne School, 3 weeks, Fort Benning, GA- CCTs are imbedded with other special forces, which means they go wherever the mission demands. Sometimes this means dropping in from above. During airborne training, they learn basic parachuting and prepare for static line jump operations.

Military Free-Fall Course, 3 weeks, Yuma, AZ; Jamul, CA- In addition to being certified air traffic controllers, CCTs are also advanced skydivers. This is where they take that next step by building on the training they received at airborne school.

SERE Training, 3 weeks, Fairchild AFB, WA- Special Warfare Airmen conduct missions in some of the most extreme and hostile places on the planet. This is where they receive survival, evasion, resistance, and escape training that will likely one day save their lives.

Air Traffic Control, 11 weeks, Keesler AFB, MS- The primary responsibility of a CCT is to direct air traffic. In addition to continuing the rigorous fitness training, they also learn how to become air traffic controllers and eventually get FAA certified.

Combat Control Apprentice Course, 8 weeks, Pope Army Airfield, NC- CCTs are more than air traffic controllers, they're battlefield Airmen usually operating in the middle of a war zone. This is where they learn to apply their training under pressure while obtaining fundamental combat skills utilizing a range of weapons and strategies.

Special Tactics Training, 6 months, Hurlburt Field, FL- The longest segment of the pipeline is also the most comprehensive with advanced weapons and demolition training, all-terrain vehicle operation and core skills instruction, all culminating in a five-level upgrade upon completion.

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