A female Airman wishing to become the first woman operator in the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) was dropped during the selection phase. More specifically, the Airman, whose name has been withheld by the Air Force for Operational Security (OPSEC) reasons, was trying out for the Special Reconnaissance (SR) career field. SR replaced the Special Operations Weather Technician (SOWT) career field in April.
AETC spokesperson Marilyn Holliday went on to add that “being a Special Warfare airman is tough, and the missions they are asked to execute are high risk. The stress of these career fields is hard on all members, regardless of gender. Not everyone wants to be a Special Warfare airman, but those who have the desire and qualifications are afforded an opportunity to serve in those specialties. The training pipeline for these highly skilled and highly trained specialties [is] quite lengthy for all Special Warfare airmen and can last up to 24 months.”
The SR pipeline is comprised of the following schools and courses:
- Special Warfare Preparation Course
- Assessment and Selection Course
- Initial Skills Course
- S. Army Airborne School
- S. Air Force Basic Survival School
- S. Air Force Water Survival School
- S. Air Force Underwater Egress Training
- Special Operations Weather Course
- Advanced Skills Training
- Special Tactics Training
Additional schools such as Military Free Fall, Combat Dive, and SR-specific courses are currently implemented in the pipeline.
The Air Force refers to all its ground element as Battlefield Airmen (BA). This designation includes both the Special Operations career fields of AFSOC – Pararescue (PJ), Combat Control (CCT), Special Reconnaissance (SR), and Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) – but also other career fields that often train and support AFSOC elements. The latter include the Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD), Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE), and Security Forces (SF) career fields. However, a major overhaul of the SOF career fields is underway.
According to the AETC, 10 female Airmen have tried out for SOF career fields ever since the Air Force lifted the restriction for women to serve in ground combat roles in 2015. Of the 10 female Airmen, seven tried out for TACP, one for PJ, and one for SR. The final one is currently in the CCT pipeline – she successfully finished the Special Warfare Preparation Course, an eight-week program designed to prepare Special Warfare candidates for success – waiting to start Assessment and Selection.