Special Tactics Officer 19ZXA



Welcome back to another episode of Commission Ed. We are so excited that you’re here. We are so excited that you are here to join us. And today we’re going to talk about everybody’s favorite superheroes, the special warfare officers in the United States Air Force.


You bet, Colin. So the 19 Zulu career field, these are our special warfare operators and these are a special breed of folks, and I’m really glad they’re on our side. Every single one of them that I’ve ever met has impressed me immensely as a human being. Makes me wonder if I’m actually one of them to some degree sometimes. But seriously, these are quiet professionals that go about their jobs and do it very, very well. But there’s a lot that goes into becoming a special warfare operator and we’re going to talk about that soon.




So what is the special warfare career field? There’s special tactics, combat rescue, TACP. There’s a number of different ones that fit into this umbrella of special warfare. But specifically, we’re talking about the special tactics officer, or Stowe. And in this career field, they are responsible for leading the airmen who do airfield seizure and recovery, special reconnaissance, combat search and rescue, and the employment of weapons of aircraft that are there in theater.




Another good way to think about what these folks are doing is there’s an interface between the air and the land, the air and the sea. And they are the folks that make sure that that interface is working because no conflict is ever going to be pure air, no conflict is ever going to be pure ground and ground pounders. They think a different way than people in the air do. And so they are the folks that make that connection work. And so they basically have to know both. And they have to know them both really well.


Yeah, it’s really incredible to hear some of the stories of what they have to do while they’re supporting the operational mission. There’s no shortage of incredible things that they can and do talk about. And we’ve interviewed a special tactics officer about his experience and would highly recommend that you go check that out.


So something that he mentioned in that episode, and again, we’re really glad we were able to share that with our audience, is the amount of training you have to go through, whether it’s dive school, whether it’s jump school or three different versions of jump school, survival training, weapons training, small unit tactics, you name it, there’s a lot of training. So in order to get fully qualified after your commissioning, you’re going to count on two years or more of specific specialized training.




This is an incredibly rigorous training pipeline, and because it’s so long and so difficult, they don’t just take anybody. Right, Reed?


Exactly. You’re going to have to go through a special fitness screening, and if you are not fit, do not apply.




So that special fitness screening is known as the past, the physical aptitude and stamina test. It’s different from the typical physical fitness assessment for the Air Force. You’re still going to do push ups and sit ups and run, but you’re also gonna swim. And those other events, they’re gonna be far more difficult and far more intense than the normal Air force fitness test.


But that makes sense given the nature of the work that they do and just the critical nature. A single thing goes wrong on one of these missions they’re supporting, and it can go sideways really quickly. That’s not too different than a lot of what airmen do. A lot of what we do is really complicated and very dangerous, but just the frequency and how often they do it. And that leads us to the next point. Your career fields day to day. You are going to be training. You’re going to be training a lot, lots and lots of deployments, lots and lots of exercises. But training, you better be comfortable with it.


Absolutely. And that training is going to happen in very specific locations around the Air force, such as cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, New Mexico, Herlbert Field in Florida. What are some other places that you’ve seen them around?


A couple spots in Alaska, a couple spots in Japan. But by and large, there’s just a few locations, and they’re working really hard in those spots to make sure they’re ready to deploy at any moment, which leads us to our next point. I kind of already said it that you’re going to deploy, but I want to really emphasize that you’re going to deploy. You’re going to deploy a lot.




Which is a good thing. Right. Because we want to know that the Air Force is using this capability to its utmost extent to enable operations to take place anywhere that it’s needed at any time.


The need for special operations is never going to go away. The last 20 years have shown just how valuable that force can be as we try to achieve our national objectives. And if this is something that you’re interested in, if you’ve got that special mindset, that ability to just never quit and to push yourself beyond what most people can, then this is something you should think about. We’ll provide some links in the description to where you can get more information, and especially listen to this special tactics officer that we interviewed that can be really helpful as students. And people thinking about this career field can dive more into it and really determine if it’s right for them.




Because this is special operations. There’s no lack of interest in the career field, but there’s also a lot of mystery that goes along with how the career field operates, how you get into it and that sort of thing. And so please send us your questions. We will do our best to answer them if we can, or put you in touch with a special tactics officer or someone who is associated with it, that will be able to answer those questions for you.


So in the meantime, get running, get lifting, get swole, and reach out to us at any time. We really appreciate you joining us today on this week’s episode of commission ed.


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