We recently received confirmation of exciting news for AFSPECWAR and the US Air Force. On a recent episode of the PJ Medcast podcast, the Combat Rescue Officer leadership confirmed the Special Operations Weather Team (SOWT) career field is being replaced with an all new career field name and mission: Special Reconnaissance.
Alongside information that we have gathered throughout the AFSPECWAR community, we now have a basic understanding of what Special Reconnaissance is, how they will be selected, and what they will be doing.
The Air Force has recognized that Special Ops Weather was a dying breed. While SOWT was critical to combat flying operations during the 20th century, new forecasting technology had forced the career field to re-invent itself. And while the Weather Teams have been recently pushing into other Intelligent, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) realms, they had remained focused on their weather forecasting roots…until now. The formal change is expected to take place in April 2019.
The Air Force seems fully invested into the change. The career field transformation is a major component of the Battlefield Airmen Force Improvement Plan initiative that is the driving piece creating Air Force Special Warfare. In addition, Special Reconnaissance’s initial enlistment bonus is substantial, signalling a need for operators. In fact, the $10,000 signing bonus is more than the Combat Controller’s $8,000 bonus.
Special Reconnaissance Operational Role
Special Reconnaissance (SR) operators will be operating under the AFSOC team ‘Access’ packages. These teams include Combat Controllers and Pararescuemen whose purpose is to survey and prepare access for aircraft. These “left of bang” type of areas include setting up and securing aircraft landing zones, drop zones and assault zones, among other special interest areas.
SR will continue to provide short term weather forecasting to assist in operational planning. But the weather component is expected to move from a core to a subset skill as SOWT transitions to SR. They will utilize advanced recon techniques such as cyber collecting for air and ground assets. These operators will specialize in ground-based ISR meshed with Air, Space and Cyber capabilities.
Special Reconnaissance Pipeline
The SR training pipeline will closely mirror their AFSOC counterparts: Combat Controllers and Pararescue. They will all attend initial selection together at Lackland, as well as pre-dive, dive school, jump schools (static line and HALO) and survival school. From there, it is expected SR will head to their own Reconnaissance School before heading to Combat Control School and advanced skills training. This is an in-draft pipeline example:
- Assessment & Selection Course
- Pre-Dive School
- Dive School
- Static Line Jump School
- Military Freefall School
- Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE) School
- Reconnaissance School
- Combat Control School
- Advanced Skills Training
AFSpecialWarfare.com expects the information stream to increase rapidly as SOWT finalizes changes to their training and operations. As we continually receive more information, we’ll post it as soon as possible. Stay up to date on our Main Page and Community Forums.