Ask Stew:  About Air Force Special Warfare

A U.S. Air Force airman from the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron swims to a boat after rescuing a simulated crash victim at Whynnehaven Beach, Fla., April 9, 2013. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Christopher Callaway)
A U.S. Air Force airman from the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron swims to a boat after rescuing a simulated crash victim at Whynnehaven Beach, Fla., April 9, 2013. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Christopher Callaway)

The United States Air Force has evolved significantly in the last two decades; specifically, the Air Force has created ground Special Operations in combat areas as well as other harsh environments and weather conditions around the world.

As global threats and technology evolves, so does the Special Operations Community.  Here is a question from a future “Battlefield Airman” considering Air Force Pararescue within the next year:

Stew, I noticed there are a lot of changes in the Air Forces PJ / CCT Pipelines, how does that change the training and preparation for me?  I am one year out and do not know if I am going to be a Battlefield Airman or Air Force Special Warfare? What is the difference?

This is a great question as you are going to be joining the Air Force as things are changing.  Mostly, the changes are in name of the special ops personnel, but the process to recruit, prepare, and train these elite groups of airmen is also changing. After Basic Military Training (BMT), you will attend the new Air Force Special Warfare Prep Course (formerly known as Battlefield Airman Prep Course).  However, before you ever leave for Basic, you will have some training and early preparation prior to departing BMT. While in the Delayed Entry Program, a group of former Air Force Special Ops trainers and mentors will make sure you are meeting the standard before you depart for BMT. See the official site to find local trainers, mentors, and recruiters to help you prepare for Air Force Special Warfare jobs such as Pararescue, Combat Controller, Tactical Air Control Party, SERE, SOWT, and EOD.

Air Force Special Warfare Prep Course is for the formerly named “Battlefield Airmen” and is an eight week course designed for BMT graduates who have selected the PJ, CCT, SOWT, or TACP career field. Its purpose is to assist rebuilding an elevated physical level after BMT and adequately prepare these new Airmen for the following pipelines of Special Ops training.

You will learn to swim long before you arrive to the Prep Course – not only a fast PAST Test method, but also swimming with fins using the side stroke “Lead Arm / Trail Arm” Method. This is moving through the water staying on your side only kicking with Rocket or Jet type SCUBA fins.   Here are the minimum standards you must meet to qualify for the Air Force Special Warfare program that vary from Specialty Code (job):

Minimum Physical Ability and Stamina Test (PAST) for Air Force Special Warfare

AF PAST EVENT

PJ

CCT

SOWT

TACP

SERE

EOD

2 x 25m u/w swim

Pass/fail

Pass/fail

Pass/fail

--

--

--

500m swim

10:07

11:42

11:42

--

--

--

200m swim

--

--

--

--

10:00

--

1.5 mile run

10:10

10:10

10:10

10:47

11:00

11:00

Pullups 2 min

10

8

8

6

8

3

Situps 2min

54

48

48

48

48

--

Pushups 2 min

52

48

48

40

48

--

-          Score Updated Oct 1, 2018    *   -- means “not tested”

NOTE: The PAST requirements are designed to test for a minimum fitness level for entry into the various training pipelines. Candidates should continue to train throughout their application process to exceed these minimums in order to enhance their chances of success.

Recommended PAST Scores from active duty special operators to be a competitive student within the training pipeline:

500m swim - sub 9 minutes

200m swim – sub 4 minutes

1.5 mile run – 9 minutes

Pullups - 20

Situps - 80-100

Pushups – 80-100

Here are the Prep Course Evaluation Standards you will meet throughout the Prep Course.

Pull Ups  10

Push Ups  55

Sit Ups 55

3 Mile Run 21:21

1000 meter fin (L.A.T.A.) 20:00

So, to answer your questions:  Yes, you will be called something different that “Battlefield Airmen”.  You are now going to be part of Air Force Special Warfare (AFSW). This is very similar to other Special Operations Command names:  Naval Special Warfare, Army Special Warfare Center and School though they officially are Army Special Operations Command.

Training should not change even though the minimums standards have changed a few times in the past years.

I urge you to strive for competitive PAST scores as mentioned above, but also know that you will be tested in many pool skills, longer runs, and longer swims with fins.  There will be rucking and other load bearing exercises involved in your training as well. It goes back to the first two phases of tactical training in order to get TO the training by acing the PAST test, but also giving yourself enough time preparing to get THROUGH the training prior to joining the Air Force.

Show Full Article