The 350th Training Squadron, a new training unit, has been created to enhance the selection and training of elite battlefield airmen such as Pararescuemen, Special Operations Weather Team Specialists, and Combat Controllers. According to the U.S. Air Force the new unit will change the way battlefield airmen navigate through their training,

For the first time in its history, the Air Force on June 2 activated a unit solely dedicated to train the service’s ground component at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

“Our mission at the Battlefield Airmen Training Group is to select, train and mentor Airmen for global combat operations,” said Col. Ronald Stenger, the group’s inaugural commander and special tactics officer. “We will breed quiet professionals, infused with a warrior ethos and fueled by scholarship and innovation.”

Members of the group will consolidate and streamline training for the Air Force‘s conventional and special operations ground forces. These ground forces include combat controllers, pararescuemen, special operations weathermen and tactical air control party Airmen.

The group’s leadership aims to improve processes and programs across five pillars: recruiting; manpower and leadership; equipment; infrastructure; and curriculum. The effort starts with successful leadership forging and developing Airmen for the battlefield, Stenger said.

“Much like when the Air Force separated from the Army in 1947 to have Airmen lead airpower, this allows battlefield Airmen leaders to lead battlefield Airmen training across the entire enterprise,” Stenger said about the group’s activation.

The group, a subordinate unit of the 37th Training Wing, replaces the 342nd Training Squadron and will lead five new BA training squadrons set to be activated later this summer. The squadrons consolidate and organize already existing training courses under BA leadership. The units include three pipeline squadrons dedicated to each career field; one instructor qualification and prep course squadron including advanced employment training such as military free fall; and a support squadron.

Some initial concerns have been raised within the PJ community about how this will change their indoctrination process. I contacted the 37th Training Wing about the concerns of the new unit altering or lowering the standards for the PJ indoctrination course. The 37th Training Wing responded with by saying that the standards will remain the same and will not negatively effect the PJ indoctrination process, only enhance it.

This activation does NOT change the standards or the training of PJ indoctrination…instead, the Battlefield Airmen Training Group takes the already-existing training and puts it under one umbrella of Battlefield Airmen (BA) training, with BA leadership to train, equip and assess the trainees. The 350th Training Squadron will house TACP preparation, PJ indoctrination, and the Combat Control/Special Operations Weather orientation course.

Battlefield Airmen’s pipeline will remain rigorous because the battlefield is unforgiving, and only the most-qualified individuals will become professional, competent and resilient special operators after years of extensive training.

Because standards are the same, we still anticipate that 20 percent of trainees will complete the pipeline. Should any changes to the training evolution, it will not be as a result of the activation, but instead be deliberate improvements to meet the needs of the battlefield requirements.

Here are the current standards:

25 Meter Underwater Swim (PJ/CCT/SOWT only): Swimsuits and swim goggles/scuba mask are the only equipment items allowed. This exercise is two-3 minute cycles consisting of: underwater swim and surface swim back to the starting point. Members will take a breath, submerge, push off the pool wall and swim 25 meters underwater. Member will then surface swim, any stroke, to the starting point. If members surface or break the water surface during any portion of the underwater swim, the test will be stopped and considered a failure. The second underwater cycle starts at the end of the first 3 minute period. Complete the second cycle as listed above. After completion of the second underwater cycle allow a 10 minute rest before the next event.
Surface Swim: Swimsuit and goggles/scuba mask are the only equipment items allowed.
500 Meter Surface Swim (PJ/CCT/SOWT): This swim is conducted using the freestyle, breaststroke or sidestroke. The swim is continuous (non-stop). If a member stops any time during the swim, the test will be stopped and considered a failure for the entire PAST.
200 Meter Surface Swim (SERE only): This swim is conducted using the freestyle, breaststroke, sidestroke. While treading (not floating) is allowed, standing on the bottom of the pool is not allowed during the swim. If a member touches the bottom of the pool at any time during the swim, the test will be stopped and considered a failure for the entire PAST.
Allow a 30-minute rest prior to the next event.
1.5 Mile Run (All): Physical training (PT) clothes and good running shoes are the only required items. The run must be conducted on an accurately measured course, preferably a running track.
Allow a 10-minute rest before the next event.
Calisthenics (All): Three calisthenics exercises are evaluated, each with specific time parameters and specific exercise form mechanics. All members will exercise to either muscle failure or time completion, whichever occurs first. The intent is to have members do as many “good form” repetitions in the time allotted or when muscle failure is reached. Allow a 2-minute rest between each calisthenics exercise.