Medical Eligibility

Navigating the initial qualification requirements for AFSPECWAR jobs can be confusing.  Most recruiters lack medical knowledge and the MEPS stations are difficult to get answers from.  In general, if you are a healthy individual with no abnormal vision, heart issues or asthma, you will most likely pass the physical. Vision (acuity or color) are the most often medical disqualfications.  For those that have questions regarding their prior medical history and whether it may be disqualifying, we offer the information below for reference use.  

Below are the same documents that military physicians refer to for determining your medical eligibility and waivers. 

Special Warfare Medical Requirements

AFSPECWAR airmen require an Air Force Special Warfare physical (plus sister-school requirements) to be eligible for entry.  A few documents to have in your hip pocket if you have medical concerns:

1)  The Air Force Medical Standards Directory (MSD)- PDF.
The MSD is the source document that Air Force physicians cite for determining your medical eligibility. The Feb 2020 update to the MSD has a specific column for Special Warfare Airmen that includes several medical standards updates.
HOW TO INTERPRET THE MSD: If there is an ‘X’ in the box under the Special Warfare column, that condition is disqualifying and will need to seek a waiver for that condition, or be medically disqualified from the job. Some medical conditions may be waiverable depending on severity and mission impact.

2) The USAFSAM Waiver Guide- PDF. This guide helps Air Force physicians and waiver authorities further clarify disqualifying conditions and what the thought process should be to consider a waiver if the medical standard has not been met.  Although this waiver guide is utilized primarily for trained assets (i.e. current operators or pilots), the same thought process could be utilized for untrained assets as well when determining whether to grant a waiver.

3) Air Force Instruction 48-123 Medical Examinations and Standards gives general exam information and most notably, waiver guidance.

Sister-Service Requirements

In addition to Air Force medical requirements, initial Special Warfare applicants must meet medical requirements for sister-service medically-managed courses. These are: Air Force Combat Dive (managed by Navy), Airborne (Army), and Military Freefall (Army).

1) Army Regulation 40-501 outlines specific medical requirements for Airborne and Military Freefall. Refer to Chapter 5 for course specific requirements. In general, vision requirements are more stringent and worth paying attention to.

2) Navy MANMED Ch 15 outlines the Navy’s diving requirements. Refer to Chapter 15-102 (which is about 3/4 down this lengthy document).


For additional information and/or questions regarding medical eligibility, check out the Medical Eligibility section in the AFSPECWAR Forums.