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Special Reconnaissance

Special Reconnaissance Airmen are meteorologists with advanced tactical training to operate in hostile or denied territory. They gather and interpret weather data and provide intelligence from deployed locations to support and enable operational goals.

Operations

Special Reconnaissance Airmen are special operators with advanced meteorological and oceanographic skill sets. They are Air Force Special Tactics members assigned to the 24th Special Operations Wing, 320th Special Tactics Squadron, and 321st Special Tactics Squadron – all units under Air Force Special Operations Command.

Operating in all climates, day or night, special reconnaissance Airmen maintain the highest standards of physical fitness and proficiency in the use of light weapons.
Special Reconnaissance Airmen are among the most highly trained personnel in the U.S. military. They maintain the same weather weapon system qualifications as all Air Force weathermen in addition to advanced special tactics skills. Their 61 weeks of training and unique mission skills earn them the right to wear the gray beret.

Capabilities

Special Reconnaissance operators can establish weather networks in austere combat locations, giving battlefield commanders real-time ground truth weather information that may impact deployment, movement and engagement decisions.

SR Airmen are Air Force meteorologists with unique training to operate in hostile or denied territory. They gather, assess, interpret environmental data and forecast operational impacts from forward deployed locations, working primarily with Air Force and Army Special Operations Forces. They collect critical weather, ocean, river, snow and terrain data, assist mission planning, generate accurate mission-tailored target and route forecasts in support of global special operations and train joint force members and coalition partners to take and communicate limited weather observations.

Additionally, SR Airmen conduct environmental special reconnaissance, collect upper air data, organize, establish and maintain weather data reporting networks, determine host nation meteorological capabilities and train foreign national forces. Every Special Operations Forces mission is planned using the analyses and coordination of special reconnaissance Airmen.

Weather Warriors: The History

The U.S. Army Weather Service originated in 1917 to provide the American Expeditionary Forces with "all the meteorological information needed; and to undertake special investigations in military meteorology and related problems". They first took part in World War I combat operations in France in 1918.

During World War II, specially trained weather observers, sometimes referred to as guerrilla weathermen, infiltrated behind enemy lines to provide weather intelligence in support of air strikes, airlifts and airdrops. In 1947, the Weather Service transferred to the new Air Force with the provision to continue providing meteorological services to the Army. During the Vietnam War, special warfare or commando weathermen provided forward observations and established weather networks in Cambodia and Laos.

In every conflict since Vietnam, special operations weathermen were with initial entry forces leading the way, undertaking the most dangerous missions behind enemy lines, conducting austere weather operations, and taking observations critical to the success of follow-on forces.

On May 5, 2008, the Air Force approved the establishment of a new Air Force Specialty Code for Special Operations Weather, formally recognizing their commitment to deploy into restricted environments by air, land or sea to conduct weather operations, observe and analyze all environmental data.

However, in an era of great power competition, the need to look critically at the entire U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command formation drove Headquarters Air Force and AFSOC to broaden the skillset of Special Tactics teams. On April 30, 2019, SOWT became Special Reconnaissance expanding the capacity and lethality of Air Force Special Tactics.

Take the Challenge

Click here for FAQs. If you want more information, please contact the Special Tactics Recruiting, Assessment and Selection section at 24SOW.RAS.org@us.af.mil or 850-884-8094.

Training

Special Reconnaissance Airmen conduct the same technical training as all Air Force weathermen.

Training includes:

  • Combat Control / Special Reconnaissance Selection Course, Lackland AFB, Texas. This 10-day selection course focuses on physical fitness with classes in sports physiology, nutrition, basic exercises, CCT / SR history and fundamentals.
  • Special Operations Weather Initial Skills Course, Keesler AFB, Miss. - This 29-week course prepares Air Force special reconnaissance apprentices. Training includes basic, intermediate, and advanced meteorology, meteorological reports and computer operations. Other topics include: satellite meteorology, weather chart analysis, weather radar, weather products, tropical meteorology, synoptic level analytical meteorology, weather prognosis techniques, forecasting weather elements to include severe weather, synoptic lab, forecasting lab, and a unit on the weather career field and weather equipment. This is the same course, with the inclusion of rigorous fitness progression training, that all Air Force weather apprentices attend and is the core skill of special reconnaissance Airmen.
  •  U.S. Army Airborne School, Fort Benning, Ga. -- Trainees learn basic parachuting skills required to infiltrate an objective area by static line airdrop in a three-week course.
  •  U.S. Air Force Basic Survival School, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. -- This two and a half-week course teaches basic survival techniques for remote areas. This includes instruction of techniques in survival, evasion and escape.
  • U.S. Air Force Water Survival School, Pensacola Naval Air Station, Fla. -- This one-week course teaches basic water survival techniques.
  • U.S. Air Force Underwater Egress Training, Fairchild AFB, Wash. - This two-day course teaches the principles, procedures, and techniques necessary to successfully egress from a sinking aircraft. Training requires personnel to actually experience water entry and to perform underwater egress.
  • Special Operations Weather Course (SOWAC), Pope Army Airfield, N.C. --This 8-week course is an AFSC awarding 3-level course attended by enlisted Special Reconnaissance. Training includes communications, land navigation, assault zone operations, demolitions, small unit tactics, as well as SR specific training such as single station analysis, limited data forecasting and tactical meteorological equipment. This training concludes with the execution of a full scale field training exercise.
  • Advanced Skills Training, Special Tactics Training Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla. The Special Tactics Training Squadron produces mission-ready operators for the Air Force and U.S. Special Operations Command. STTS provides a 12-to-15-month program for newly assigned combat controller / special reconnaissance operators to learn advanced skill specific to the career field, prior to being assigned to an operational squadron. The STTS schedule is broken down into four phases: Formal Training, Core Task,, Employment Readiness Training, and Operational Readiness Training. The course tests the trainee's personal limits through demanding mental and physical training. SR Airmen also attend the following schools while assigned to STTS:
    • Special Tactics Training-- Special Tactics Training Squadron employs a "warrior training warrior" philosophy, teaching the skills necessary for successful service in the Special Tactics community. The six-month training school includes advanced communication, navigation techniques, employment techniques, weapons training and small unit tactics.

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