A TACP specialist prepares to step off on a land navigation course at Reveille Peak Ranch in Burnet, Texas, during the 2020 Lightning Challenge. Photo by Ethan E. Rocke/Coffee or Die Magazine
Recently, the Air Force Special Operations Command refined its special operations preparation program.
The revamped Special Warfare Preparatory Course (SWPC), which lasts eight weeks, offers a wide variety of useful tools and coaching to Airmen wishing to go into special operations. From coaches to dieticians, the SWPC aims to prepare those who go through it to succeed once they arrive at their respective selection programs.
AFSOC has four special operations career fields: Pararescue (PJ), Combat Control (CCT), Special Reconnaissance (SR), and Tactical Air Control Party (TACP).
SWPC covers modules such as nutrition, sleep, mental toughness, strength and conditioning, and active recovery. Candidates are evaluated with a Human Performance system that helps staff gauge the progress of every candidate and his or her suitability to continue forward.
“In the past, candidates arrived unprepared both mentally and physically for the rigors of the special warfare pipeline, which drove historical levels of high attrition,” said Chief Master Sergeant Todd Popovic, the Special Warfare Training Wing command chief, in a press release. “However, this course provides a firm foundation to educate and prepare each Airmen for what’s ahead and has proven to decrease attrition in the follow-on courses.”
Upon the successful completion of SWPC, candidates go their selection courses. PJ, CCT, and SR candidates attend Assessment & Selection, a four-week suckfest, while TACP candidates go to the TACP Selection Course, which is one-week long.
Up until the early 2000s, Air Force Special Operations Pararescue and Combat Control candidates went through the same selection process called Indoctrination, or INDOC. However, at some point that changed with each career field creating its own selection and assessment process. And although efficiency improved, something was missing. So recently, AFSOC put the career fields back together and also included the Special Reconnaissance (formerly Special Operations Weather Technician) into one selection process, the Assessment & Selection.
Master Sergeant Lopaka Mounts, the superintended of Assessment & Selection at the 350th Special Warfare Training Squadron, explained the rationale behind the fusion of the different career fields’ selections in the podcast “Ones Ready.”
“It’s very important to build that foundation, build those bonds build that mentality, because we all work together, and we’re all supporting those agencies or those sister services downrange, and when you build that bond early, it has long-lasting effects and also people get to know each other’s AFSCs the way the way they should,” he said.
Here are the (minimum) requirements to get a special warfare contract.
Coffee or Die is Black Rifle Coffee Company’s online lifestyle magazine. Launched in June 2018, the magazine covers a variety of topics that generally focus on the people, places, or things that are interesting, entertaining, or informative to America’s coffee drinkers — often going to dangerous or austere locations to report those stories.
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