Air Force Special Operations Command has roughly 15,000 active-duty, Air Force Reserve (AFRC; C, for Command), Air National Guard (ANG), and civilian personnel. These members are scattered across the globe at dozens of locations, prosecuting myriad missions and functions. In this next batch of articles, we’re only going to concentrate on the AFRC and ANG units and missions. And, at that, we are only really going to stick to the Special Tactics and AFSOC Battlefield Airmen. We may mission creep into a few other specific AFSOC units that, although aren’t Battlefield Airmen, do have pretty wicked missions that get covered precisely *zero* times anywhere. (Like those AFSOC Engineers in the Mississippi Guard…)
So like we covered in that last SOD piece, these are SOF dudes who are not full-timers. Some of them may be; on orders, working as GS Gov Technicians, or AGR (Active Guard Reserve). But whatever their pay schedule, they are not “Big Blue” and belong to the RC.
To get everyone up to speed, we’ll go over which Air Force jobs (AFSCs) are considered “Battlefield Airmen.” I’m not going to go into deets on any of these, since we’ve got a few of them creeping around the SOFREP Writers’ Room, and they can clear that shit up. In fact, there is a fan-fucking-tastic series on CCTs you should check out here.
Specifically, Special Tactics and Battlefield Airmen nomenclature *is not* interchangable. This is due to the fact that there are Battlefield Airmen who have jobs and missions that do not fall under AFSOC. For example, the TACPs (1C4) are dominantly controlled *outside* of AFSOC. They are located in Air Support Operations units that directly support *conventional* maneuver units in the Army and USMC. Doesn’t mean those same TACPs won’t/can’t go do special shit with special dudes…It means they are not specifically tasked to do that. Same kinda holds true for those PJs in Rescue units. Those two AFSCs *can* (and do) operate in and out of conventional/special units and roles.
Screw this, let’s get to the organizational chart. There are four enlisted, and three officer AFSCs that fall into the Battlefield Airmen niche. And they are dubbed such because the battlefield is where they do their shit. Those are (with beret color):
- 1C2 – Combat Controller (Scarlet)
- 1C4 – Tactical Air Control Party (Black)
- 1T2 – Pararescue Jumper (Maroon)
- 1W0 (X2 shred) – Special Operations Weather Technician (Grey)
- 13D (A shred) – Combat Rescue Officer (Maroon)
- 13D (B shred) – Special Tactics Officer (Scarlet)
- 13L – Air Liaison Officer (Black)
You can search SOFREP for copious amounts of info on all those. Exploit your Google-fu, too. But it will likely bring you right back here.
Of those listed AFSCs, CCTs, SOWTs, and STOs are exclusively slated for SOF missions. Even if they are operating in an advisory/LNO (Liason Officer)/staff role, they are working for AFSOC/USSOCOM. The others–PJs, CROs, TACPs, and ALOs–can be, and are, applied in conventional settings, doing conventional shit, for conventional commands.
NOW…there ain’t nothing easy or normal about the shit they’re doing when they’re not SOFing it up. Their orders just come down conventional channels.
Before I close this round off, I’d also like to mention that Air Force Security Forces play an occasional–and sometimes protracted–role in AFSOC missions. Other AFSCs, as well. I will stow those jobs, units, and missions until the end of this series (along with those engineers).
Up next: I’ll cover a basic OB (Order of Battle, remember) of RC units and locations, just like I did in the SOD article. In the event that any of this info gets you hot & bothered, contact a recruiter. If it’s in this article series, it’s a stressed AFSC. (Which means they ain’t got nearly enough of ’em.)
Featured image courtesy of soldiersystems.net