Special Reconnaissance Airmen are Special Tactics forces 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 (land, sea, air), anytime and anywhere to prepare the environment for future operations and obtain, transmit, and action strategic, operational, and tactical intelligence information. USAF SR employ as elements of Special Tactics teams to prepare the environment, ensure global battlespace awareness, enable Global Access, and effect air, space, cyberspace, and information superiority for the successful execution of joint force objectives.
Special Reconnaissance Airmen deploy rapidly and undetected by any means (land, sea, air), anytime and anywhere to prepare the environment for future operations and obtain, transmit, and action strategic, operational, and tactical intelligence information.
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 operators are experts in advanced surveillance and reconnaissance – to include multi-domain electronic warfare, small unmanned aircraft systems, long-range marksmanship, all-terrain vehicles, maritime operations, and alternate infiltration/exfiltration tactics, techniques, and procedures. SRs are world-wide deployable special operators.
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.
Click here for FAQs. If you want more information, please contact the Special Tactics Recruiting, Assessment and Selection section at 24SOWSTTS.ASSESSMENTS.RAS@us.af.mil or 850-884-8094.
Special Reconnaissance are among the most highly trained personnel in the U.S. military. They receive training in surveillance and reconnaissance, multi-domain electronic warfare (EW), long-range precision engagement and target interdiction, small unmanned aircraft systems, preparation of the environment, and advanced special tactics skills.
Special Warfare Preparatory Course (SW Prep), Lackland AFB, TX – This eight week course focuses on strength and conditioning training, running, rucking, swimming, history of Special Warfare, and Esprit De Corps.
Special Warfare Assessment and Selection Course, Lackland AFB, TX – This four week course assesses candidates based on several factors, and selects them if found to be suitable for SR. Only the most dedicated, team-oriented candidates will be selected.
Special Warfare Pre-Dive Course, Lackland AFB, TX – This four week course prepares candidates physically and mentally for the rigors of the Special Warfare Combat Dive Course. It consists of intense calisthenics, middle- and long-distance running, swimming, and water confidence training.
Special Warfare Combat Dive Course, Panama City, FL – This five week course graduates expert divers. SR Airmen undergo extensive combat dive training, including training on a number of diving systems.
Basic Airborne Course, Fort Benning, GA – This three week course teaches basic parachuting skills required to infiltrate an objective area by static line airdrop.
Military Free-Fall Course, Yuma Proving Ground, AZ – This four week course graduates advanced military skydivers.
Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE) Training, Fairchild AFB, WA – This three week course teaches basic survival techniques for remote areas. Instruction includes principles, procedures, equipment and techniques, which enable individuals to survive, regardless of climatic conditions or environment, and return home.
Underwater Egress Training, Fairchild AFB, WA – 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 Reconnaissance Apprentice Course, Pope Air Field, NC – This course incorporates – and builds on – skillsets begun in previous courses. SR students apply their training under pressure while obtaining fundamental combat skills utilizing a range of weapons and strategies. SR Airmen are awarded their AFSC and Crest upon graduation from this course.
Special Tactics Advanced Skills Training, Hurlburt Field, FL – This training typically lasts between 6 months and one year. SR Airmen undergo comprehensive and advanced training on weapons, demolition training, advanced surveillance and reconnaissance – to include multi-domain electronic warfare, small unmanned aircraft systems, long-range marksmanship, all-terrain vehicles, maritime operations, and alternate infiltration/exfiltration tactics, techniques, and procedures. SR graduates are world-wide deployable special operators.
Additional Training. Multiple additional course exist which continue the advanced development of SR Airmen. This includes, but is not limited to: Special Operations Sniper training, Airborne jump-master training, Dive supervisor training, Advanced Free-Fall training, Advanced Multi-Domain EW training, Advanced Surveillance training, Advanced Preparation of the Environment training, Advanced Personnel Recovery training, and Joint/Combined Special Operations training.
Common Duty Stations. Active Duty common assignments include – but are not limited to – Pope Army Air Field, NC; Hurlburt Field, FL; Naval Support Activity Panama City, FL; MacDill Air Force Base, FL; Joint Base San Antonio, TX; Cannon Air Force Base NM; Yuma Proving Ground, AZ; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA; Kadena Air Base, Japan; and Royal Air Force station Mildenhall, United Kingdom.