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Special Operations Overview

Called upon to perform the toughest duties in the armed forces, Special Operations Forces directly affect the protection of America's freedom.

Army

Army Special Forces
Learn More About the Green Berets

75th Ranger Regiment
Learn More About the Army Rangers

160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment
Learn More About the Night Stalkers

Marines

Marine Force Reconnaissance
Learn More About Marine RECON

Marine Corps Special Operations Command
Learn More About Marine MARSOC

Marine RECON Missions
Learn More About Marine RECON

Air Force

Air Force Special Tactics
Learn More About Special Tactics

Air Force Special Tactics Training

USAF Special Tactics

The Air Force's Special Tactics teams consist of airmen from three different career fields: Combat Controllers, Pararescuemen, and Special Operations Weathermen. Each of these special operations career fields requires specialized intensive training.

Combat Control Training

Combat controllers are among the most highly trained personnel in the U.S. military. They must maintain a Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control qualification throughout their careers in addition to other special operations skills.

Their 35 week training and unique mission earn them the right to wear the scarlet beret.

  • Indoctrination Course, Lackland AFB, Texas
    One week orientation to CCT focuses on sports physiology, nutrition, basic exercises, CCT history and fundamentals.
  • Combat Control Operator Course, Keesler AFB, Miss.
    This 15.5 week course teaches aircraft recognition and performance, air navigation aids, weather, airport traffic control, flight assistance service, communication procedures, conventional approach control, radar procedures, and air traffic rules. This is the same course that all other air traffic controllers attend. This is the heart of a combat controller's job.
  • U.S. Army Airborne School, Fort Benning, Ga.
    This three-week course teaches basic parachuting skills required to infiltrate an objective area by static line airdrop.
  • U.S. Air Force Basic Survival School, Fairchild AFB, Wash.
    This two and a half-week course teaches basic survival techniques for remote areas. Instruction includes principles, procedures, equipment and techniques, which enables individuals to survive, regardless of climatic conditions or unfriendly environments and return home.
  • Combat Control School, Pope AFB, N.C.
    This course provides final CCT qualifications. Training includes physical training, small unit tactics, land navigation, communications, assault zones, demolitions, fire support and field operations including parachuting. At the completion of this course, each graduate is awarded the 3 Skill Level, scarlet beret and CCT flash.

Special Tactics Advanced Skills Training, Hurlburt Field, Fla.

Advanced Skills Training (AST) is a twelve-month program for newly assigned STS operators. AST produces mission-ready operators for the Air Force and United States Special Operations Command. The AST schedule is broken down into four phases: water, ground, employment, and full mission profile. The course tests the trainee's personal limits through demanding mental and physical training. Combat controllers also attend the following schools during AST:

  • U.S. Army Military Free Fall Parachutist School, Fort Bragg, N.C., and Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz.
    This course instructs trainees in free fall parachuting procedures. The five-week course provides wind tunnel training, in-air instruction focusing on student stability, aerial maneuvers, air sense and parachute opening procedures.
  • U.S. Army Special Forces Combat Divers School, Key West, Fla.
    Trainees become combat divers, learning to use scuba to covertly infiltrate denied areas. The four-week course provides training to depths of 130 feet, stressing development of maximum underwater mobility under various operating conditions.
  • U.S. Navy Underwater Egress Training, Pensacola Naval Air Station, Fla.
    This course teaches how to safely escape from an aircraft that has ditched in the water. The one-day instruction includes principles, procedures and techniques necessary to get out of a sinking aircraft.

Pararescue Training
Pararescuemen endure some of the toughest training offered in the U.S. military. Their training, as well as their unique mission, earns them the right to wear the maroon beret. They complete the same technical training as EMT-Paramedics, plus the following physical and specialized training:

  • Indoctrination Course, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas
    This 10-week Indoctrination Course recruits, selects and trains future PJs through extensive physical conditioning. Training accomplished at this course includes physiological training, obstacle course, rucksack marches, dive physics, dive tables, metric manipulations, medical terminology, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, weapons qualifications, PJ history and leadership reaction course.
  • U.S. Army Airborne School, Fort Benning, Ga.
    Trainees learn the basic parachuting skills required to infiltrate an objective area by static line airdrop in a three-week course.
  • U.S. Army Combat Divers School, Key West, Fla.
    Trainees become combat divers, learning to use scuba to covertly infiltrate denied areas. The four-week course provides training to depths of 130 feet, stressing development of maximum underwater mobility under various operating conditions.
  • U.S. Navy Underwater Egress Training, Pensacola Naval Air Station, Fla.
    This course teaches how to safely escape from an aircraft that has ditched in the water. The one-day instruction includes principles, procedures and techniques necessary to get out of a sinking aircraft.
  • U.S. Air Force Basic Survival School, Fairchild AFB, Wash.
    This two and a half-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 unfriendly environments and return home.
  • U.S. Army Military Free Fall Parachutist School, Fort Bragg, N.C., and Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz.
    This course instructs trainees in free fall parachuting procedures. The five-week course provides wind tunnel training, in-air instruction focusing on student stability, aerial maneuvers, air sense and parachute opening procedures.
  • Paramedic Course, Kirtland AFB, N.M.
    This 24-week course teaches how to manage trauma patients prior to evacuation and provide emergency medical treatment. Upon graduation, an EMT-Paramedic certification is awarded through the National Registry.
  • Pararescue Recovery Specialist Course, Kirtland AFB, N.M.
    Qualifies airmen as pararescue recovery specialists for assignment to any pararescue unit worldwide. The 20-week training includes field tactics, mountaineering, combat tactics, advanced parachuting and helicopter insertion/extraction.

Special Ops Weatherman

Special Operations Weathermen conduct the same technical training as all Air Force weathermen. Unlike other special operations forces, special operations weather only recruits from Airmen already within the Special Ops Weatherman

Special operations weather training includes AFSOC's Advanced Skills Training conducted at Hurlburt Field, Fla., which produces combat ready special tactics operators through an intensive mentoring training philosophy.

Initial Training

  • U.S. Army Airborne School, Fort Benning, Ga. (3 weeks)
    Trainees learn basic parachuting skills required to infiltrate an objective area by static line airdrop
  • U.S. Air Force Basic Survival School, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. (2.5 weeks)
    This 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. (1 week)
    This course teaches basic water survival techniques.
  • Initial Skills Training, Hurlburt Field (six weeks)
    This unit-level training provides newly assigned weathermen those skills necessary to deploy and operate in permissive and semi-permissive environments. Training includes basic communication, navigation and employment techniques, weapons training and small unit tactics.

Advanced Training

  • Air Force Special Operations Command Advanced Skills Training (six months)
    Advanced Skills Training employs a "warrior-training-warrior" philosophy, teaching the skills necessary for successful service in the special tactics community. Training includes advanced communication, navigation techniques, employment techniques, weapons training and small unit tactics.

Special operations weathermen 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.

Special Operations Weather Selection Course, Lackland, Air Force Base, Texas - This two-week course focuses on sports physiology, nutrition, basic exercises, special operations weather history and fundamentals.

Special Operations Weather Initial Skills Course, Keesler AFB, Miss. - This 29-week course prepares Air Force special operations weather 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 operations weathermen.

U.S. Army Airborne School, Fort Benning, Ga. - Trainees learn the 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 AFB, Wash. - This two and a half-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 unfriendly environments and return home.

U.S. Air Force Water Survival Training, Fairchild AFB, Wash. - This two-day course teaches principles, procedures, techniques, and equipment that enhance their ability to survive in a water environment and assist in their safe recovery and return to friendly control.

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 Apprentice Course, Pope AFB, N.C. - This 13-week course provides final special operations weather qualifications. Training includes physical training, austere weather operations, tactical weather observations, small unit tactics, land navigation, communications, demolitions, and field operations including parachuting. At the completion of this course, each graduate is awarded their 3-skill level (journeymen), gray beret and SOWT crest.

Special Tactics Advanced Skills Training, Hurlburt Field, Fla. - This 12-month program for newly assigned special operations weathermen produces mission-ready operators for the Air Force and U.S. Special Operations Command. This course focuses on initial skills, core tasks, and operational readiness training to test the trainee's personal limits through demanding mental and physical training.

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