Air Force Special Warfare

Air Force Special Warfare (AFSPECWAR) comprises ground combat forces that specialize in airpower application in hostile, denied and politically sensitive environments. AFSPECWAR enlisted specialties include Combat Control, Pararescue, Special Reconnaissance and Tactical Air Control Party (TACP). Officer specialties include Combat Rescue Officer, Special Tactics Officer and TACP Officer. These Airmen are task-oriented with a variety of enabler and support specialties to form the Guardian Angel and TACP Weapon System within the conventional Air Force and the Special Tactics Weapon System within Air Force Special Operations Command. These weapon systems are employed to provide global access, precision strike and personnel recovery capabilities across the spectrum of conflict and the multi-domain battlefield.


• Global Access: The establishment of access to permissive, contested, degraded and operationally limited environments to project air, space and cyber power to achieve joint force objectives. Examples include: reconnoitering airfield and air defense infrastructure, establishing and controlling aircraft landing zones in austere areas, suppressing enemy air defenses and supporting humanitarian operations.

• Precision Strike: The full kinetic and non-kinetic projection of ground, air, space and cyber power to successfully find, fix and bring effects against an objective or capability. Examples include: controlling air strikes for friendly forces in contact with the enemy, coordinating precision strikes on high-value targets and integrating the full range of kinetic and non-kinetic air, space and cyber effects during planning and execution of joint force operations.

• Personnel Recovery: The sum of military, diplomatic and civil efforts to prepare for and execute the recovery and reintegration of isolated US military personnel, Department of Defense (DoD) civilian personnel, DoD contractor personnel, or other personnel and sensitive items as designated by the President or Secretary of Defense. Examples include: rescuing downed pilots and other isolated personnel in peacetime and combat, recovering sensitive equipment and aircraft components, and providing rescue coverage for manned space flight missions.

Weapons Systems

• Guardian Angel (GA): Comprised of Combat Rescue Officers, Pararescuemen, and Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Specialists. Guardian Angel is the Air Force’s dedicated ground force to conduct personnel recovery in both hostile and peacetime environments. Guardian Angel teams integrate with conventional and special operations forces to ensure isolated personnel are returned with honor from any environment.

• Special Tactics (ST): Comprised of all seven AFSPECWAR specialties working in integrated units with Airmen from more than 60 other Air Force career fields. Special Tactics constitutes the Air Force’s ground force within U.S. Special Operations Command, conducting special operations core activities with expertise in air, space and cyber application. Special Tactics forces plan, lead and execute global access, precision strike, personnel recovery and other missions as directed.

• Tactical Air Control Party (TACP): Comprised of TACP officers and enlisted specialists who integrate fires during joint and multinational operations. They serve as Precision Strike experts to both conventional and special operations forces to facilitate joint fires integration and terminal attack control, as well as multi-domain command and control activities.


• Operator:

– Combat Rescue Officer (CRO): Specializes in leading personnel recovery operations to locate, recover and reintegrate isolated personnel.

– Special Tactics Officer (STO): Specializes in leading global access, precision strike and personnel recovery operations.

– Tactical Air Control Party Officer (TACPO): Specializes in leading precision strike, integration of joint fires, and joint all-domain command and control.

– Combat Control (CCT): Specializes in airfield and air infrastructure reconnaissance, establishment and control of austere airfields, and joint terminal attack control.

– Pararescue (PJ): Specializes in technical rescue; the location, extraction and recovery of personnel or sensitive equipment; and medical treatment to stabilize and evacuate injured personnel.

– Special Reconnaissance (SR): Specializes in air infrastructure reconnaissance, enabling electro-magnetic spectrum effects and conducting technical and environmental reconnaissance.

– Tactical Air Control Party (TACP): Specializes in the integration of all facets of airpower, to include kinetic and non-kinetic precision strike capabilities as well as command and control.

• Enabler:

– Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE): Specializes in the integration of isolated personnel survivability, theater planning activities, and command and control functions in support of personnel recovery operations.

• Mission Support:

– Special Warfare Mission Support (SWMS): These Airmen are experts in their technical specialties who receive advanced training to enable unique AFSPECWAR combat capabilities. SWMS Airmen conduct extensive cross functional training in other specialties to enable mutually supporting teams.

• Human Performance Optimization:

– Human Performance Optimization (HPO): Experts trained across a range of medical and research disciplines focused on optimizing performance, durability and sustainability of AFSPECWAR Airmen. HPO takes an interdisciplinary approach, leveraging science and technology to enhance human performance and resiliency.