This year has been monumental for the Air Force Special Operations community.

Early in 2019, the Air Force announced the creation of a new Special Operations job: Special Reconnaissance (SR) replaced and improved the outdated Special Operations Weather Technician (SOWT) specialty. Then, in the Spring, the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) announced that its SOF specialties (Combat Control, Pararescue, Tactical Air Control Party and SR) would come together under the Special Warfare career field. (You can read more details about these changes here.)

During this wave of “modernization,” the future of Pararescue came under scrutiny. The Air Force leadership considered the merging of the two different kinds of Pararescue units to ensure a more efficient and effective force. The merger envisioned Guardian Angel Squadrons incorporated into the Special Warfare Squadrons.

Guardian Angel refers to the Rescue Squadrons that fall under the Air Force Combat Command (ACC). These are considered conventional squadrons and not Special Operations. Special Warfare Squadrons fall under AFSOC. It is important to note, however, that Pararescuemen in both ends of the spectrum go through the same selection and training and are considered SOF. Assignment to a Rescue or Special Warfare squadron depends on the needs of the Air Force and operators often get assigned to both during their careers (reassignments normally take place every 2-5 years).