Air Force Special Warfare (AFSPECWAR) is the Air Force’s solution to deliver tactical, sensitive and special operations across the Air, Land, Maritime and Space and Cyber environments.  Equipped to deliver personnel recovery, global access and precision strike mission sets, Special Warfare is undoubtedly the Air Force’s tip of the spear.  
Formerly referred to as Battlefield Airmen; encompassing Special Tactics, Guardian Angel, and the TACP Weapon Systems, AFSPECWAR is the Air Force’s current and future generation solution to meet today and tomorrow’s advanced human-based weapon system demands.


Special Warfare Emb l


  • Pararescue (PJ)– The DoD’s premier personnel recovery asset.  Paramedics, Technical Recovery specialists,  Rock Climbers,  Divers, Swiftwater Specialists.  If you need saved, they will find you. The Air Force Jack of All Trades.  “That Others May Live”
  • Combat Control (CCT) – Delivering air power anytime, anywhere.  Specialists capable of creating and maintaining airfields across the globe as FAA certified Air Traffic Controllers.  Radio masters linking ground and air power in austere locations.  First in to the fight and often last out.  The Air Force’s key to bringing the fight as far forward as possible.  “First There”
  • Tactical Air Control Party (TACP)- Precision Air Strike specialists, conducting close air support air strikes in the most demanding environments.  Certified as Joint Terminal Air Controllers (JTACs), they are often the vital link to ground forces and their vital support from the air, to include ISR, bomber and fighter aircraft.  Most often stationed and embedded with US Army units.
  • Special Reconnaissance (SR)- Formerly Special Operations Weather.  Versed in advanced recon techniques, to include weather forecasting and cyber collecting for air and ground assets.  Advanced infiltrators and data collectors, providing advanced Information, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) from the ground. 
  • Other Enablers- Some Air Force Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD), Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE) and Security Forces play vital roles in accomplishing the Special Warfare mission set.  While the majority of Airmen in these specialties are outside of the AFSPECWAR construct, elite airmen from these jobs have the opportunity to assess, train and deploy as AFSPECWAR.


  • Combat Rescue Officer (CRO)- Personnel recovery (PR) command and control specialists.  Experts not only in executing the mission but also in providing preparation/planning and debriefing for isolated personnel across the globe.  Conducts tactical, operational and strategic personnel planning- from executing the individual mission to constructing large scale theater PR plans.  Pararescue’s officer counterpart.
  • Special Tactics Officer (STO)- Deploy as mission commanders for special warfare operations.  Provides command and control for global access missions and contingency planning.  Organizes, trains and equips special warfare teams.  Combat Control’s officer counterpart.
  • TACP Officer (TACPO)- Lead AFSPECWAR airmen on conventional and special operations.  A precision strike command and control specialist.  Directs firepower anytime, anywhere and advises commanders of JTAC capabilities.  The Air Force’s advisor to the Army for integrating ground and air power.  JTAC qualified.  Tactical Air Control Party’s officer counterpart.


AFSPECWAR Airmen train and deploy all over the globe.  Some of these locations are made public and some are classified.  Regardless, operators may spend 200-300 days on the road preparing and deploying.  
The majority of active duty AFSPECWAR operators fall under the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). 
Additionally, there are Guard and Reserve units that have both full time and part time operators. 
NOTE: Active Duty, Reserve and the Air National Guard are different entities in the Air Force umbrella.  While Guard and Reserve members typically stay much of their career at one location, Active Duty will change duty locations every few years.  
The majority of TACP and TACP Officers operators reside in Air Combat Command (ACC) in which they train with and support US Army units.

Active Duty AFSW Units
Comprised of CRO, STO, SR, PJ, CCT, TACP

  • Pope AFB, (Fayetteville) NC (21st Special Tactics Squadron)
  • Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Tacoma) WA (22nd Special Tactics Squadron)
  • Hurlburt Field, (Ft. Walton Beach) FL (23rd Special Tactics Squadron)
  • Pope AFB, (Fayetteville) NC (724th Special Tactics Squadron)
  • Cannon AFB, (Clovis) NM (26th Special Tactics Squadron)
  • Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, JP (320th Special Tactics Squadron)
  • Mildenhall AB, England (321st Special Tactics Squadron)
  • Fort Benning, (Columbus) GA (17th Special Tactics Squadron) *TACP/TACP Officer ONLY*
  • Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, JP (31st Rescue Squadron) *PJ/CRO only*
  • Aviano Air Base, Italy (57th Rescue Squadron) *PJ/CRO only*
  • Moody AFB, (Valdosta) GA (38th Rescue Squadron) *PJ/CRO only*
  • Davis-Monthan AFB, (Tucson) AZ (48th Rescue Squadron) *PJ/CRO only*
  • Nellis AFB (Las Vegas) NV (58th Rescue Squadron) *PJ/CRO only*

Non-deployable support locations for headquarters staff and training include: Lackland AFB (San Antonio), Davis-Monthan AFB (Tucson), Pope AFB (Fayetteville), Hurlburt Field (Ft. Walton Beach), Naval Support Activity (Panama City), Kirtland AFB (Albuquerque)

Guard and Reserve AFSW Units
Comprised of CRO, STO, SR, PJ, CCT


  • Louisville Intl Airport KY (123rd Special Tactics Squadron)
  • Portland Intl Airport OR (125th Special Tactics Squadron)
  • Elmendorf AFB, (Anchorage) AK (212th Rescue Squadron) *PJ/CRO only*
  • Gabreski Air Field, (Long Island) NY (103rd Rescue Squadron) *PJ/CRO only*
  • Moffett Field (Santa Clara) CA (131 Rescue Squadron) *PJ/CRO only*


  • Portland Intl Airport OR (304th Rescue Squadron) *PJ/CRO only*
  • Davis-Monthan AFB, (Tucson) AZ (306th Rescue Squadron) *PJ/CRO only*
  • Patrick AFB, (Cocoa Beach) FL (308th Rescue Squadron) *PJ/CRO only*

Conventional Force Active Duty TACP/TACPO Units

  • Fort Bliss, (El Paso) TX (7th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS)
  • Fort Hood, (Killeen) TX (9th ASOS)
  • Fort Riley, (Junction City) KS (10th ASOS)
  • Fort Hood, (Killeen) TX (11th ASOS)
  • Fort Carson, (Colorado Springs) CO (13th ASOS)
  • Fort Hood, (Killeen) TX (712th ASOS)
  • Pope AFB, (Fayetteville) NC (14th ASOS)
  • Fort Stewart, (Hinesville) GA (15th ASOS)
  • Fort Campbell, (Oak Grove) KY (19th ASOS)
  • Fort Drum, (Watertown) NY (20th ASOS)
  • Fort Polk, (Leesville) LA (20th ASOS, Det 1)
  • Pope AFB, (Fayetteville) NC (682nd ASOS)
  • Vilseck, Germany (2nd ASOS)
  • Schweinfurt, Germany (2nd ASOS, Det 1)
  • Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, (Anchorage) AK (3rd ASOS)
  • Joint Base Lewis McChord, (Tacoma) WA (5th ASOS)
  • Wheeler Army Airfield, (Honolulu) HI (25th ASOS)

Conventional TACP/TACPO Air National Guard Units

  • Terre Haute ANG Base, IN (113th ASOS)
  • New London AFG Base, (Badin) NC (118th ASOS)
  • Air Station Fort Indiantown Gap, PA (148th ASOS)
  • Savannah ANG Base, (Garden City) GA (165th ASOS)
  • Peoria ANG Base, IL (168th/169th ASOS)
  • Atlantic City ANG Base, NJ (227th ASOS)
  • Key Field, (Meridian) MS (238 ASOS)
  • Hancock Field ANG Base, (Syracuse) NY (274th ASOS)
  • Camp Murray, (Tacoma) WA (111th/116th ASOS)
  • New Orleans Lakefront Airport, LA (122nd ASOS)
  • Gowen Field ANG Base, (Boise) ID (124th ASOS)
  • Will Rogers ANG Base, (Oklahoma City) OK (146th ASOS)
  • Ellington Field, (Webster), TX (147th ASOS)
  • Salina ANG Detachment (Salina), KS (284th ASOS)

AFSPECWAR Compensation

Initial Enlistment Bonus (Enlisted)

-Combat Control: $17,000
-TACP: $17,000
-Pararescue: $17,000
-Special Reconnaissance: $17,000

-SERE: $17,000
-EOD: $17,000

*Values Current As of 1 October 2019
*Payments are for 6-year enlistments only
* Initial Enlisted Bonus payment is authorized when the member completes technical training and is awarded a 3-skill level in the AFSC specified in the enlistment contract. Member must request IEB upon arrival at first duty station. Bonus entitlement is based on the date of enlistment and the guaranteed AFSC on enlistment contract

Special Monthly Pays

Note: Special Monthly Pays are a combination of Battlefield Airman Incentive Pay (BASIP) and enlisted-only Special Duty Assignment Pay (SDAP). Pay range is dependent on skill level and qualifications

-Pararescue: $765-$1065/mo
-Combat Rescue Officer: $540-$615/mo

-Combat Control: $750-$1050/mo
-Special Tactics Officer: $525-$600/mo

-Tactical Air Control Party: $225-$975/mo
-Tactical Air Control Party Officer: $150-$525/mo

-Special Reconnaissance: $525-$975/mo

*Operators assigned to the 724 Special Tactics Group (Pope AFB, NC) will receive special duty assignment pay between $225 and $450 per month, in addition to the above special pays

Re-enlistment / Retention Bonuses

-Enlisted operators can expect to receive up to $90,000 during their re-enlistment window- usually every 4 years. Bonuses are generally paid half up front, and the other half paid out in yearly installments throughout the enlistment.

-Officer operators between 8 and 21 years of service can receive between $15,000-$25,000 per year when accepting an Officer Retention Bonus between 3-5 years. Payout spread is based on years served and retention length.


A Special Tactics documentary detailing the history of the Air Force’s ground special operations teams.