Air Force Combat Rescue Officer (CRO)

Combat rescue officer candidates perform flutter-kicks.
U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and combat rescue officer candidates perform flutter-kicks during an assessment and selection process at Hurlburt Field, Florida, March 25, 2021. (Tech. Sgt. Sandra Welch/U.S. Air Force)

The United States Air Force combat rescue officer (CRO) is an officer career field added because of the importance of joint rescue and recovery operations military-wide.

"By creating this new career field, we recognize how vital the personnel recovery and combat rescue missions have become in our expeditionary aerospace force concept. The ability to bring people home safely from dangerous missions is paramount. Establishing a career field devoted to this mission will ensure that attention is always focused on this commitment." -- Air Force Secretary Whit Peters, Dec. 10, 2000

The Air Force recognizes personnel recovery (PR) as one of its primary roles, but through the growing Joint Special Operations Command, trained combat medics such as the Air Force pararescue are needed within other Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Tier One and Tier Two units. This new officer career specialty is essential to lead and advocate effectively the CRO/PJ/SERE weapons system to personnel recovery mission success throughout several branches of the SOCOM so "that others may live ... to return with honor."

Duties of the combat rescue officer:

  • Deploys as a team member, team leader or mission commander as a direct combatant or provide subject matter expertise to command and battle staffs.
  • Works as a mission planner and manager of personnel recovery operations.
  • Supports joint and combined forces in conventional and special operations air, ground and maritime operations.
  • Ensure personnel recovery activities are organized, and teams are trained and equipped to perform full spectrum of Air Force and Joint PR.
  • Inspects and evaluates PR activities, functions and personnel.
  • Provides advocacy and oversight as well as advice on readiness of the pararescue and survival, evasion, resistance and escape (SERE) enlisted career fields.

The CRO Physical Ability and Stamina Test ( PAST)

Pull-ups: maximum repetitions in two minutes/rest two minutes

Sit-ups: maximum repetitions in two minutes/rest two minutes

Push-ups: maximum repetitions in two minutes/transition/rest time of 10 minutes before run

Run: Three-mile timed run (no stopping) wearing PT clothes and running shoes. Thirty-minute transition time to start the swim

Swim: 25 meters underwater/10-minute rest time before 1500m swim

Swim: 1500m using any stroke wearing swimsuit, facemask/goggles and fins.

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