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.