Media

Interested in embedding with Special Tactics units? Need specific B-Roll of special operations mission sets? If you have a media query concerning Air Force Special Tactics and how we integrate air power into a special operations battlespace, please contact the 24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs at 850-884-3902, or DSN: 579-3902, and 24sow.pao@us.af.mil.

We have general B-Roll packages available online in high resolution for your use:

COMBAT CONTROL:

General CCT B-Roll, Part 1

General CCT B-Roll, Part 2

 Joint Terminal Attack Control Training (precision air strikes):

Joint Terminal Attack Control, Part 1
Joint Terminal Attack Control, Part 2

Airfield Seizure: taking over a hostile airfield to rescue injured personnel

GENERAL SPECIAL TACTICS TRAINING:

Water skills training for combat diving and combat resiliency

Night Ops Military Freefall

Infiltration into hostile or remote territory:

Fast Roping

Fast Roping from CV-22

PARARESCUE:

Confined space rescue from vehicle with jaws-of-life tool

 High-angle ropes and confined space tactical rescue

DECORATIONS/MEDALS:

Air Force Cross/Double Silver Star Medal ceremony

SPECIAL OPERATIONS SURGICAL TEAM:

Medical Care in remote areas

The Air Force's Ground Special Operations Force

What is Air Force Special Tactics?
The easiest way to think about it is “Special Tactics” is to Air Force, as “SEALs” is to Navy, and "Special Forces” and “Rangers” are to Army. More specifically, in the 1970s, a small number of highly skilled men were brought together to provide the U.S. military a unique special tactics capability. That team was coined “Brand X.” Over the years, additional capabilities were added to this group and have grown into what we call Air Force Special Tactics.

Today, our mission is to provide Special Tactics Airmen for rapid global employment to enable airpower success. We’re U.S. Special Operations Command’s tactical air and ground integration force and the Air Force’s special operations ground force to enable global access, precision strike and personnel recovery operations.
We currently reside in 29 total operating locations, 16 recruiting locations, and have 13 geographically separated units. There are nearly 1,000 ST operators within AFSOC and approximately 2,500 members make up the Special Tactics community with almost 1,500 assigned to the 24th Special Operations Wing.

What kind of careers or job specialties are in Special Tactics?

Combat Control (CCT) – Along with pararescuemen, combat controllers (CCTs) are the Air Force’s most highly trained Airmen. As Federal Aviation Administration certified air traffic controllers, CCTs are capable of infiltrating via sea, air or land and controlling assets in the skies above.

  • Airfield assessment and control is a capability put to use by our combat controllers (CCTs) for combat missions or humanitarian relief. Our units can assess, open, and control major airfields to clandestine dirt strips in either permissive or hostile locations. This ability provides strategic access for our nation’s military.

Pararescue (PJ) – pararescuemen (PJs) are expert combat medical professionals capable of providing life-saving measures in hostile areas.

  • Personnel recovery is the primary mission for our pararescuemen (PJs) and can be tailored to the mission. This combat rescue capability protects high-risk special operations missions and is Special Operations Command’s personnel recovery action-arm.

Special Operations Weather (SOWT) – Special operations weather team members (SOWTs) are professional meteorologists capable of working side-by-side with America’s most elite special operators on specific missions.

  • Environmental reconnaissance by our special operations weather technicians (SOWTs) provides critical go/no-go recommendations to commanders and unit leaders for operations including insertion, close air support, evacuation and more. SOWTs are combat trained meteorologists with the ability to fight their way in while providing real-time battlefield weather analysis. 

Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) – As network specialists, TACPs conduct close air support and control communication networks in hostile areas.

  • Joint tactical air control is a qualification and special skill that many Special Tactics Airmen possess. It maximizes the lethal and non-lethal effects of airpower and minimizes risk to non-combatants such as medical and religious teams and civilians. This training and certification is one of the main skills of our CCTs and tactical air control party members (TACPs).

Special Operations Surgical Teams (SOST) – consists of active-duty Air Force medical professionals including trauma surgeons, emergency physicians, nurse anesthetists, surgical scrub techs, critical-care nurses, and respiratory techs. They are charged with providing far-forward medical care during combat operations wherever the U.S. military is engaged. When not on active deployment, the team trains in surgery, in trauma centers and in intensive-care units.

Are JTACs in Air Force Special Tactics?

Actually, that term is frequently misused to describe an individual. The term JTAC, or joint terminal air control, is a qualification or certification that any career field can obtain by attending the school. Members in the combat control and tactical air control party career fields predominantly hold the JTAC qualification.

What has Air Force Special Tactics done in recent conflicts?

 Since Sept. 11, 2001, Air Force Special Tactics has been involved in almost every major operation and has seen a significant amount of combat. In fact, ST averages a member being killed or wounded-in-action every 1.15 months dating back to 2001. Our community has received 10 Air Force Crosses, 34 Silver Stars, nearly 650 Bronze Stars, hundreds of Bronze Stars with valor, and hundreds of Purple Hearts. Special Tactics is the most highly decorated community in the Air Force since the end of the Vietnam War.

Career Information

What is Special Tactics?
Special Tactics is the Air Force's Special Operations ground combat forces. Special Tactics teams execute Special Operations missions to enhance air operations deep in enemy territory, or in remote locations in rugged terrain.

What Special Tactics career opportunities are there for reservists?
Qualifying reservists must become full-time active duty to pursue careers in all Special Tactics career fields.

I'm a civilian and want to join one of the enlisted Special Tactics career fields. What should I do?

Take a trip to your local recruiter, and let them know what you want to do. They will get you in touch with the regional Battlefield Airmen Recruiting Liaison to conduct your physical ability and stamina test (PAST) and mentor you through the enlistment process. Consult the other pages on this website for specific information regarding each career field.

I'm in the Air Force and want to retrain into an enlisted Special Tactics career field. What should I do?

For enlisted members below the rank of E-6, visit myPers and click the retraining link. So long as you are eligible, myPers will send you instructions for completing a retraining package for your desired career field. Once your package is screened, you will be invited to attend either the Combat Controller/Special Operations Weather Team Retraining Assessment at Hurlburt Field, Fla. or the Pararescue Jumper retraining assessment at Lackland AFB, Texas.  

I’m a sister service military member, and want to become an enlisted Special Tactics member.  What should I do?

Visit your local Air Force Recruiter and let them walk you through the cross-service transfer process.  However, understand that cross-service slots are limited and vary by career field. Depending on availability, you may have to wait until October 1st for the next fiscal year to start.

I desire to commission as a Special Tactics Officer.  What should I do?

This link here will provide you an application with detailed instructions about how to apply to become a STO.  If your Phase 1 application is approved, you will be invited to attend Phase 2: A week-long, bi-annual selection event conducted at Hurlburt Field, Fla. It is extremely challenging, and should only be attempted after extensive mental and physical preparation. Consult the workout and nutrition guides to help properly prepare for the selection. 

What is the difference between a Combat Controller and a Tactical Air Control Party Airman?

Combat Controllers are trained in a wide variety of skillsets—air traffic control, SCUBA, military freefall, etc.—and belong to Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), which directly supports United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). They regularly support joint special operations forces (SOF) and spend their entire operational career within Air Force Special Tactics (ST).

Tactical Air Control Party members specialize in synchronizing air assets into the ground battlespace, and work closely with the conventional Army to manage large area of operations.  They belong to Air Combat Command (ACC), and therefore are not SOF. After TACPs have completed their training pipeline and gained some experience at their ACC units, they can apply to attend the SOF TACP selection, and be hired into Special Tactics.

Both Combat Controllers and TACPs can become Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs), and control air-to-ground munitions employment in close air support situations for their respective supported units.

Bottom line: TACPs are conventional and support conventional forces, whereas Combat Controllers are SOF and support USSOCOM.