Special Reconnaissance

What is Special Reconnaissance?

Special Reconnaissance (SR) focuses on airpower-minded reconnaissance and surveillance. Aligned under AFSOC’s access teams (along with PJ & CCT) SR airmen utilize advanced recon techniques, to include weather forecasting and cyber collecting for air and ground assets. These operators specialize in ground-based Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) meshed with Air, Space and Cyber capabilities.

Formerly branded as Special Operations Weather Team (SOWT), the SR career field has recently undergone a major restructuring. While short term weather forecasting will remain in the SR’s skillset, it will no longer dominate SR’s training and mission focus. Skills include:

  • Weather forecasting
  • Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) gathering
  • Static Line and Military Freefall Insertion (HALO & HAHO)
  • Underwater infil and exfil (SCUBA)
  • Helicopter land and water insertion & exfil

Special Reconnaissance and SOWT History

The U.S. Army Weather Service originated in 1917 to provide the American Expeditionary Forces with “all the meteorological information needed; and to undertake special investigations in military meteorology and related problems”. They first took part in World War I combat operations in France in 1918. 

During World War II, specially trained weather observers, sometimes referred to as guerrilla weathermen, infiltrated behind enemy lines to provide weather intelligence in support of air strikes, airlifts and airdrops. In 1947 the Weather Service transferred to the new Air Force with the provision to continue providing meteorological services to the Army. During the Vietnam War, special warfare or commando weathermen provided forward observations and established weather networks in Cambodia and Laos. In every conflict since Vietnam, special operations weathermen were with initial entry forces leading the way, undertaking the most dangerous missions behind enemy lines, conducting austere weather operations, and taking observations critical to the success of follow-on forces. 

In 2008, the Air Force approved the establishment of the Air Force Specialty Code for Special Operations Weather.

For a look into the origins of battlefield weathermen during WWII checkout Bryan Carnes’ history paper: Dawn of SOWT- OSS Weathermen in the Balkans

Additionally you can check out the transformation of Air Force Weather Technicians from the enlisted classification directory (career field descriptors) from 1960 through 2017

Entry Requirements

Official Air Force Description and Responsibilities

Standby for add’l details. ETA: Apr 2019

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