Air Force Pararescue (PJ) Training

by Stew Smith

That Other's May Live - AF PJ's & First There - AF CCTs

AF Special Tactics...

Ever thought about getting little more out of your Air Force career? Or have you ever thought about risking your life to save another? Or going behind enemy lines before anyone else to set on a drop zone / air field and help call in fire support to troops who need it? These are just some of  the missions of the Air Force Special Tactics - the PJs or para-jumpers and CCT or Combat Control Technician. The PJs are responsible for providing emergency and life-saving services to airmen, soldiers and civilians in both peacetime and combat environments. When a plane goes down in the jungle or ocean, it is the PJs who are there to find and save the pilots and crew. Pararescuemen truly live up to their motto, That Others May Live.

The CCTs are FAA certified air traffic controllers and responsible for conducting all types of missions behind enemy lines while setting air fields, calling in fire support while working jointly with Army SF, Navy SEALs, etc. The CCT motto is First There as they prep the air fields and drop zones for other troops to follow.

The PAST - Physical Ability and Stamina Test

To become a PJ or CCT you must male, a proficient swimmer, meet physical standards of at least 100 points on the Physical Ability and Stamina Test (PAST). This job is open to only enlisted troops. Here are the specifics minimums to becoming a PJ and Combat Control tech but the numbers in the parenthesis are recommended scores from Spec Ops trainers:

- 2 x 25 m sub surface swim no time limit
- 500 m swim 10:07 or less (sub 9 min)
- 30 min rest
- 1.5 mile run 9:47 or less (sub 9 min)
- 10 min rest
- 10 pull ups min (20+)
- 2 min rest
- 58 sit ups min (100+)
- 2 min rest
- 54 push ups min (100+

Iron Man Standards:
- 2 x 25 m sub surface
- 500 m swim 9:30
- 1.5 mile run 9:30
- 13 pull ups
- 65 sit ups
- 65 push ups

Once again - these are the minimum scores for the PAST - to be accepted into any Special Force it takes a higher score to be competitive.  I would recommend being able to the numbers in parenthesis next to the minimum scores. 

Once in the PJ Candidate Course, you will be challenged physically for ten weeks in Lackland AFB, Texas.  The first phase is known as Team Training and is 8 weeks long.  It consists of extensive physical training with swimming, running, weight training, calisthenics and obstacle courses.  Educational training such as medical and diving terminology, CPR, weapons qualifications, and dive physics are also part of the Candidate Course. 

Video: USAF Pararescue Jumpers

After the Candidate Course there are two different professions with two different pipelines (but similar) to follow depending on if you want to be a PJ or CCT.  Here is the PJ and CCT pipeline of training:

- US Army Airborne School - 3 weeks
- US Army Combat Divers School - 4 weeks
- US Navy Underwater Egress Training - 1 day
- US Air Force Basic Survival School - 2.5 weeks
- US Army Free-fall Parachutist School - 5 weeks

PJ Pipeline Different Schools

- Special Operations Combat Medic Course - 22 weeks
- Pararescue Recovery Specialist Course - 20 weeks   

CCT Pipeline Different Schools

Combat Control Orientation Course, Lackland AFB, Texas -10 days

- Combat Control Operator Course - 15.5 weeks
- Combat Control School - 12 weeks

For more info see the Official AF website: AFPJ and CCT.

Training is extremely challenging both physically and mentally, but if you graduate and wear the maroon beret (PJ) or the scarlet beret (CCT), you will be one of the most highly trained combat medics in the world, able to handle the most stressful situations with ease. Hats off to those who risk their lives to be the First There so That Others May Live.

Visit Military.com's Special Operations Center

See ebooks for PJ and CCT Training - I will send an extra 6 weeks for free that will help with some of the more challenging land warfare schooling to include running, rucking etc with any purchase.

With any download you buy you get over 40 hours of training personally designed for future students of the group AND access to Stew Smith (the author) for any answers to your training questions!!

If you would like to buy the AF PJ Workout E-book that has produced several graduates from clients of the StewSmith.com PT Club please download the E-book NOW from the Military.com Ebook Store.This is a preparatory workout that will prepare you for the challenges of the swimming, running, PT of PJ training as well as the physical training of CCT to include PT, running, ruck marching,etc..

Thanks for the e-mails. Keep them coming at stew@stewsmith.com.

More Air Force Special Forces Articles:

- Air Force Special Tactics Fitness Training
- Helicopter Rescue Swimmer Training
- Swimming With Fins
- SpecOps: Who's Toughest?
- All Air Force Special Forces Articles

Learn more about available Special Operations opportunities.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Military.com Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at Military.com. To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at stew@stewsmith.com.


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