What are the differences between CCT, PJs, SR, and TACP?

Special warfare is a special branch of the Department of Defense as well as the entire Air Force. We are the kind of people and airmen they send out to do those special missions that nobody else may be able to do or be willing to do. That’s what special warfare does. They bring a different type of capability, using all the spectrums of warfare, to the fight.

The Four Pillars of Special Warfare

The four jobs that comprise special warfare are combat control, pararescue, TACP, and SR.

Combat Control

Combat controllers are special tactics operators who expertly deploy into both amphibious and non-amphibious environments. They are able to land an airstrip, survey it, and simultaneously be conducting close air support, bringing in special operations as well as massive contingency and coalition forces onto a battlefield. Sending one combat controller into an airspace can change the entire theater and the landscape of the country itself.


Pararescue is basically the ground support for the Air Force that helps air power do its job. So, if we have a helicopter that goes down, a Humvee that gets rolled over, someone stuck on a mountain, hurricane rescues, anything like that, we are essentially the contingency plan. Anywhere in the world, we can save someone.


As a TACP, you’re advising ground commanders of other sister services, mostly the Army, on the best way to employ fixed-wing, rotary-wing artillery, and to call in airstrikes or close air support.

Special Reconnaissance (SR)

The role of a special reconnaissance operator is to answer intelligence and information requirements for the Air Force. This includes things like electronic warfare, cyber warfare, and being able to insert and act as an ISR (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) asset on the ground instead of in the air.

Personality Traits and Training

From a personality standpoint, we have them all. We have people who are extroverts, introverts; the personalities don’t really matter in this career field. It’s how you train. It is a competitive atmosphere, and how you really compete is by being a good teammate and being a good person. At the end of the day, having integrity, having the motivation to be here, and never quitting are what matter.

The Importance of Joint Operations

As special warfare airmen, we are embedded with these other sister services for the simple reason that we are the premier force and experts on air power. Because we support all branches for special operations defense, whatever sister service they are part of, we need to be trained in their tactics, techniques, and procedures as well as their standard operating procedures.

That joint aspect of the job is huge. And having those relationships with the Army and with the Navy and other special operations forces is what builds those great teams that can go out and do the mission well.

The Reward of Service

While it is hard, it is rewarding at the same time because you get to be a part of a community that a lot of people can’t say they have been able to accomplish. You’re doing something that the 1% of the 1% are doing.

If you have a very good reason why you want to be a special operator, nothing will stop you. The best part about it is that once you are here in special warfare, we give you the tools to succeed. It’s really up to you to rise to the challenge.

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