SSgt Sean Harvell, a Combat Controller, talking about the job. Sgt. Harvell is a highly decorated Airman. His younger brother, Sean, was Killed In Action along with 37 others and a Military Working Dog. Some information about SSgt Andrew Harvell is included below, both to give you an idea of what a CCT must do to earn their beret and go operational, as well as to show respect.

How to Become a Combat Controller

You will train a minimum of 35 weeks to become a Combat Controller, and that’s before you get to your team and really start to learn (according to CCTs themselves). You will need to be fit, you will need to be mentally flexible and you must be emotionally committed.

After BMT (Basic Military Training) you will attend:

Combat Control Orientation Course, Lackland AFB, Texas.

This 10-day orientation course focuses on sports physiology, nutrition, basic exercises, CCT history and fundamentals.

Combat Control Operator Course, Keesler AFB, Miss.

This course is taught in two phases. Phase 1 is Combat Control Fundamentals consisting of 28-training days. Phase 2 is Combat Control Apprentice-Tower and runs for 52-training days. The course teaches aircraft recognition and performance, air navigation aids, weather, airport traffic control, flight assistance service, communication procedures, conventional approach control, radar procedures, and air traffic rules. This is the same course that all other Air Force air traffic controllers attend. This is the core skill of a combat controller’s job.

U.S. Army Airborne School, Fort Benning, Ga.

This 15-training days course teaches basic parachuting skills required to infiltrate an objective area by static line airdrop.

U.S. Air Force Basic Survival School, Fairchild AFB, Wash.

This 17-day course teaches basic survival techniques for remote areas. Instruction includes principles, procedures, equipment and techniques, which enables individuals to survive, regardless of climatic conditions or unfriendly environments and return home.

Combat Control School, Pope AFB, N.C.

This 84-training day course provides final CCT qualifications. Training includes physical training, small unit tactics, land navigation, communications, assault zones, demolitions, fire support and field operations including parachuting. At the completion of this course, each graduate is awarded the 3-skill level (journeymen), scarlet beret and CCT flash.

Special Tactics Advanced Skills Training, Hurlburt Field, Fla.

Advanced Skills Training (AST) is an 11-12 month program for all Combat Controllers before they are assigned to an operational squadron. AST produces mission-ready operators for the Air Force and United States Special Operations Command. The AST schedule is broken down into three phases: formal training, core skills training and operational readiness training. The course tests the trainee’s personal limits through demanding mental and physical training. Combat controllers also attend the following schools during AST:

U.S. Army Military Freefall Parachutist School, Fort Bragg, N.C., and Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz.

This course instructs trainees in free fall parachuting procedures. The first week of the course consists of wind tunnel training at Ft. Bragg, N.C. The instruction focuses on in-air student stability, aerial maneuvers, air sense, parachute opening procedures. The students then relocate to Yuma, Ariz., where they begin freefall parachute jumping. The jumps progress from lower to higher altitudes, day to night jumps, “slick” to combat equipment configuration with weapon attached and use of supplemental oxygen.

U. S. Air Force Combat Divers School, Panama City, Fla.

Trainees become combat divers, learning to use open circuit (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus – SCUBA) and closed circuit (LAR-V, Draeger Underwater Breathing Apparatus) diving equipment to covertly infiltrate denied areas. The course is run in two phases. Phase 1 is 21 days in length and consists of pool training and diving to depths of 130 feet, stressing development of maximum underwater mobility under various operating conditions. Phase 2 is 13-days in duration and consists of equipment familiarization and diving using the closed circuit system.

See also the official AFSOC Special Tactics Recruitment Page and Combat Controllers Rockin’ the Mike

In Memory of SSgt Andrew W. Harvell

Courtesy of the Combat Controller Association

Staff Sergeant Andrew W. Harvell was a Combat Controller assigned to the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Field, NC. Sergeant Harvell was born in Long Beach, California, on 26 September 1984; he was 26 years old. Sergeant Harvell attended Millikan High School in Long Beach. After graduating from high school in June 2002, Sergeant Harvell enlisted in the Air Force and arrived at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, in November 2002.

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Upon graduation from Basic Military Training, he immediately entered the Combat Control training pipeline.

Over the next 24 months, Sergeant Harvell completed numerous Air Force and joint service training schools such as Army Airborne School, Air Force Survival School, Air Force Air Traffic Control School and Air Force Combat Control School. He was then assigned to the Special Tactics Training Squadron where he completed the Special Forces Combat Dive Course, Special Forces Military Freefall School and all upgrade requirements for combat-mission-ready status as a Combat Controller.

In January 2006, Sergeant Harvell was assigned to the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, where he completed four combat deployments in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM, as well as numerous joint exercises and training events.

While at Pope, Sergeant Harvell successfully assessed for the 24th Special Tactics Squadron and was assigned to the unit in May of 2009. He was on his second deployment with the squadron in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. Sergeant Harvell‘s military awards include the Bronze Star Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Purple Heart, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, the Joint Service Commendation medal, the Join Service Achievement Medal, and the Air Force Combat Action Medal. He was a stat-line jumpmaster.

On the night of 6 August 2011, Sergeant Harvell was part of an elite special operations team executing a helicopter assault into the Tangi Valley, Wardak Province, Afghanistan. While approaching the target, their CH-47 helicopter was shot down, killing everyone on board.

Andy perished as a warrior, taking the fight to our nation‘s enemies. He is survived by his wife, Krista, two sons Hunter and Ethan, father John Harvell, mother Jane Maher, brother Technical Sergeant Sean Harvell, and sister Anales Eder.

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