The Air Force’s new Special Operations career field is about to launch. After years of planning and much deliberation, the long-awaited Special Warfare (SW) career field opens up on October 31.

The Special Warfare (1Z) career field will now encompass four Air Force Specialty Codes (AFSCs), which is the nomenclature that the Air Force utilizes for its various jobs. The four AFSCs will be the following: Pararescue (1Z1); Combat Control (1Z2); Tactical Air Control Party (1Z3); and Special Reconnaissance (1Z4). These four AFSCs were previously independent career fields (Special Reconnaissance recently changed from the previous Special Operations Weather Technician career field).

According to the Air Force’s description, “the specialties included in the Special Warfare Career Field form theAir Force‘s premier ground maneuver element. The Airmen of Special Warfare are employed across the spectrum of conflict to extend Air Force air power and enhance its lethality. They operate within the Joint and Combined Force to build partnerships, develop asymmetric advantages and engage the enemy inside its own region. They provide the connective tissue required to bind multiple domains; focusing the integration of air, space, cyber and land issues through the lens of airpower from the ground up and delivering distinctive capability and expertise in any operating environment with unequaled lethality, accuracy, responsiveness, flexibility and persistence. This career field includes the functions and activities of global access, precision strike and personnel recovery.”

Additionally, there is another enabler career field. Titled Special Warfare Enabler (1T), the career field pools together all the direct support career fields into one. The vision for Special Warfare enablers is to accompany Special Warfare operators and provide critical direct and indirect combat support.

The Air Force’s Enlisted Classification Directory states that “the Special Warfare Enabler career field specialties within Special Warfare integrate with and accompany Special Warfare Career Field members (1Z) and teams to enable additional capabilities required for global access, precision strike, personnel recovery, command and control, and other multi-domain missions.”

As of October 2019, there is a $17,000 enlistment bonus for all the Special Warfare and Special Warfare Enabler specialties. The bonus, however, is applicable for only a six-year contract, and it’s paid upon completion of the respective pipelines and attaining the necessary qualifications.

The Special Warfare Operator and Enabler career fields are a great step toward creating a more lethal Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). The contribution of the Air Commandos often goes unheeded given their operational role. Combat controllers, Pararescuemen, TACP, and Special Reconnaissance Airmen seldom operate on their own. Most usually, they’ll be found attached to other SOF units, calling in airstrikes, saving lives, gathering key environmental data, or doing a myriad of other things.

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