The Most Elite Warriors On the Planet: How U.S. Air Force Special Warfare Works

Sponsored by our partner, U.S. Air Force Special Warfare
The Most Elite Warriors On the Planet: How U.S. Air Force Special Warfare Works
Presented by Spartan Training®

When it comes to premium athleticism and fearless determination, Air Force Special Warfare is second to none. Similar to Spartans who crawl through mud under barbed wire, scale slippery walls, and swing, jump, and leap to the next obstacle, Special Warfare Operators go where others won’t to do tasks others can’t. Their intense training, which demands endurance, stamina, fortitude and grit, makes them some of the most intelligent and bravest athletes on earth. They’re experts in air-to-ground coordination and often embed with other specialized units like the Navy Seals and Army Rangers, to ensure each mission is a success.

It’s no surprise that Special Warfare Operators are held to extremely high standards, both mentally and physically. Only a small percentage of trainees succeed in becoming Special Warfare Operators. (One percent of the general population joins the military, and less than one percent of those people join the Special Warfare community.) And as Spartans, we take our hats off to them because we of all people know how much determination, perseverance and positive mental attitude it takes to make it through burly training in brutal conditions. Here’s a snapshot of what a Special Warfare serviceman or woman does, on the regular.

Training in Action: 3 Specialities of the U.S. Air Force Special Warfare

Air Force Special Warfare comprises four career fields: pararescue, tactical air control, combat control, and special reconnaissance. In each sector, crewmen and women must demonstrate a highly-specialized skill set to ensure mission success. Essentially, they are the air-to-ground integration forces that enable global access, precision strike, and personnel recovery. Special Warfare Operators have the ability to persevere through any mental and physical challenge acquired through brutal, relentless, unending training.

1. Establishing Global Access

Special Warfare Operators are tasked with assessing and opening anything from a major international airport to clandestine dirt strips, in both permissive and hostile locations. From there they provide strategic access for follow-on forces. This ensures that anyone can access a man-made and (potentially) naturally contested, degraded, and operationally-challenged environment. By laying the groundwork, Special Warfare sets up the rest of the military for success when it comes to options for assault, and maneuvering and powering operations in both combat and humanitarian situations.

2. Supporting Precision Strikes

Special Warfare Operators are highly trained in kinetic and non-kinetic precision strikes. This means coordinating with aircraft to direct accurate munitions, as well as humanitarian aid drops from the ground. This requires an immense amount of clear communication and strategic thinking, not unlike a Spartan Race, where athletes must evaluate obstacles and discern how best to overcome them on a moment’s notice. Anyone who’s been through the wringer on a Spartan obstacle course knows racing is far from easy, but imagine doing these kinds of tasks while under fire or in an unfriendly zone: absolutely brutal. So, we have major respect for Special Warfare’s courage and fortitude it takes to make these operations happen. 

3. Enabling Personnel Recovery

Special Warfare Operators conduct personnel recovery missions, from rapid-mission planning to technical rescue, treatment, and exfiltration. In other words, they go behind enemy lines to ensure each and every person makes it home. With in-depth medical and rescue expertise, along with their deployment capability, these operators train for and execute rescue missions in the world’s most remote, most burly areas. 

Learn more about Air Force Special Warfare, take your Spartan OCR skills to the next level, and join the battle.