The Air Force is getting ready to completely overhaul its Special Operations Forces (SOF). The Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) is currently undergoing a transitional phase that will merge all the existing career fields under the new Special Warfare career field.
More specifically, the current plan envisions one Air Force Specialty (1Z) that will include four different individual Air Force Specialty Codes (AFSCs) – the nomenclature that the Air Force uses for its jobs. The four AFSCs (1ZX) will be the previously existing career fields: Pararescue (PJ), Combat Control (CCT), Tactical Air Control Party (TACP), and the newly activated Special Reconnaissance (SR), which replaced the Special Operations Weather Technician (SOWT) career field.
There are a number of other Air Force career fields that support but are not part of AFSOC. These are the Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD), Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE), and Security Forces (SF) career fields. Airmen from these jobs often train and deploy alongside their AFSOC brethren. The Air Force dubs all its ground elements as Battlefield Airmen.
Moreover, a further change is being considered in the corridors of power. AFSOC is thinking of mirroring the Army’s 18X Special Forces recruiting scheme when it comes to career field assignments. In sum, AFSOC would like to assign Special Warfare candidates who successfully pass through the initial selection courses to one of the four AFSCs, similarly to how the Army assigns candidates who successfully pass the Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS) course their Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) – Weapons Sergeant (18B), Communications Sergeant (18E), Engineering Sergeant (18C), and Medical Sergeant (18D). Such a move would allow AFSOC to determine which candidate is better suited for which career field after having tested them. The move, however, could adversely affect AFSOC’s recruitment, for prospective candidates might shun away from a random assignment.
In addition to the above, AFSOC is working toward merging the Rescue Squadrons (RQS) with the Special Tactics Squadrons (STS) to create the new Special Warfare Squadrons (SWS). Currently, RQS belong to the Air Force’s Air Combat Command (ACC), whereas STS belong to AFSOC. What that means is that until now Combat Rescue Officers and Pararescuemen could be either assigned to an RQS or an STS depending on the needs of the service. It also means that there is a delay in the transmission of institutional knowledge. Each unit has its own Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs), which have developed after arduous training and active combat operations. TTPs often transcend units, especially in the same career fields, but there is always a slight divergence. The merging of the RQS and STS will amend that and pool together all the hard-earned TTPs.
According to sources who spoke to NEWSREP, AFSOC’s senior officer and enlisted leadership is currently engaging the community for feedback and is seeking input from across the Command to better develop the Special Warfare transition.
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