In its unrelenting pursuit of a more clever, versatile, and lethal operator, the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) has streamlined its Assessment & Selection process for Battlefield Airmen.
Introduced last year, the revamped version of the Assessment and Selection (A&S) course is four weeks long and includes all Special Warfare specialties (that is, Pararescue (PJ), Combat Control (CCT), and Special Reconnaissance (SR); the latter is the newest addition to AFSOC’s arsenal, having replaced the Special Operation Weather Technician (SOWT) career field last year). Moreover, both officers and enlisted candidates undergo the same course.
Candidates straight out of boot camp go through an eight-week preparatory course to be better prepared for the physical rigors of A&S. On the other hand, prior-service candidates go straight to Assessment and Selection.
The four-week suckfest is broken up to two phases: Field Phase and Selection Phase.
Field Phase is two-and-half weeks long and consists of never-ending physical training evolutions in the field. There are no days off.
Selection Phase is one-and-half weeks long and consists of tests, evaluations, and interviews with the cadre to determine the suitability of candidates. Upon the successful completion of this phase, enlisted candidates are given their Special Warfare specialty (PJ, CCT, or SR) based on their performance, aptitude, and preference.
In the past, AFSOC has gone through many trials on how to better select its Battlefield Airmen. At some point, all three career fields had their own selection process. Then, Pararescue and Combat Control aspirants went through the brutal Indoctrination Course, better known as Indoc, while SOWT candidates had their own selection process.
According to Senior Master Sergeant Lopaka Mounts, the A&S Superintendent, the aim behind conveying all candidates through the same selection process is to ensure that all students have to meet the same standards and are tested on the same events.
“We’re extremely proud of our GA [Guardian Angel] and ST [Special Tactics] lineage and history,” said Chief Master Sergeant Jamie Clark, the Command Chief of the Special Warfare Training Wing (SWTW), in a press release.
“A&S is vital to what we represent. . .It’s the benchmark experience of who we are and fight for. Out goal has and continues to be to position the Air Force to be successful, to create an unfair fight so we can win.”
Pararescuemen are the Department of Defense’s premier experts in combat rescue and personnel recovery. Combat Controllers specialize in surveying air assault and landing zones and, most often, are trained Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs), meaning that they are able to call in airstrikes. Finally, Special Reconnaissance operators specialize in air-focused, ground-level Intelligence, Reconnaissance, and Surveillance (ISR).