special ops Jobs after the academy

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by taymcg12, Jun 25, 2015.

  1. taymcg12

    taymcg12 Member

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    I was wondering if many of the Academy grads go on to pursue special operations jobs such as combat control technician, tacp, or pararescue. If I were to join the Air Force, it would be my dream to have one of these specialized roles (yes I realize that these are extremely difficult to get into, but there is no harm in attempting). I originally assumed that graduating and attending one of the specialized training pipelines was equivalent to wanting to go to EOD training or BUD/S from USNA: Be in the top 50 or so in your class and choose to be assigned to one of them. But much of what I have read online is very confusing about whether or not these jobs are even available to academy grads. Thank you!
     
  2. Boozebin

    Boozebin Member

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    I do know that pararescue is an enlisted position. Similar job would be Combat Rescue is Special Tactics. My DS did attend a job fair type thing while he was at Prep and looked into both of these but unfortunately he's out of pocket right now. Any career list as an officer position is available to AFA grads.

    I would look at the following links:
    http://www.airforce.com/careers/#education:college-graduate
    http://www.airforce.com/careers/detail/combat-rescue-officer/
    http://www.airforce.com/careers/detail/special-tactics-officer
    http://www.airforce.com/careers/detail/tactical-air-control-party-officer
     
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  3. AFrpaso

    AFrpaso USAFA '17

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    That's odd that the USAF website refers to the position as a TACP Officer. I spent some time with an ASOS (Air Support Operations Squadron) this past month and here's the breakdown.

    Tactical Air Control Party:
    JTAC (Joint Terminal Attack Contoller) - the enlisted members of the crew
    ALO (Air Liaison Officer) - the officer members

    I'd search around for ALO if you'd like more info, the AFSC is 13L.

    I am less familiar with STO and CRO career fields. I do know that while at the Academy cadets have the opportunity to attend "selection" and see if they have what it takes to be in the program. There's usually 10-20 guys who are interested in going to selection and they do their own training here at the Academy.

    A recent 2015 grad from my squad got selected for STO and he was not in the top 100 of his class.

    HOWEVER, recognize that as an officer you do not spend much time in the field! After some field experience your job is to manage the unit or sit in the AOC/JAOC/CAOC and support he mission from there.

    AOC - Air Operations Center (AF specific)
    JAOC - Joint Air Operations Center (two or more US military services)
    CAOC - Combined Air Operations Center (two or more allied nations)
     
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  4. BlahuKahuna

    BlahuKahuna Member

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    CRO, STO, and ALO (13L, TACP officer) are all available to USAFA grads. As long as you're not at the bottom of your class or on probation, class ranking has relatively little to do with whether or not you'd be picked up for these jobs.

    Each of these career fields has selections you can apply to attend during your 2-dig or firstie year, they're all very physical/leadership based. If you make it through the selections, you'll basically be committed to that career field upon graduation.

    USAFA has a few programs designed to directly prepare cadets for selections after four degree year. They're not mandatory by any means but might be helpful if that's something you want to do-so stay out of trouble and work out a ton.

    Let me know if you have more specific questions and I can get answers from people in the career fields.
     
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  5. taymcg12

    taymcg12 Member

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    Thanks so much guys! This helps a lot! And I will be sure to check out those links. So last question- I presume from the answers that CCT is an enlisted position?

    P.S.- BlahuKahuna is alright if I send a private message with a few more questions sometime?
     
  6. taymcg12

    taymcg12 Member

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    Oh and one more question: is SOWT and enlisted position?
     
  7. BlahuKahuna

    BlahuKahuna Member

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    Yes and yes.
     
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  8. -Bull-

    -Bull- Member

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    JTAC is a qualification, and there are members of the Marine Corps and Army who are JTACs as well. I believe (if I remember correctly) the Air Force officially refers to them as TACP Specialists.
     
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  9. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    My son graduated the academy in 2012. He wanted to go to grad school, but was also torn between being a pilot and being in Special Ops. He took the pilot slot. Got selected to grad school. He's currently in his last few months of grad school. At the end of his 2nd year of grad school, he decided that he really wanted to try out for Special Ops. He got permission to try out. He applied and made it through the first part of selection and was invited to go to Florida for the 2nd phase. Only about 25-27 was selected to go to the next phase. This phase is very physical and leadership. Not sure how to explain it, but suffice it to say that out of the 25-27 that started, only 12 made it through. The others either dropped out or were let out. Now, the 3rd phase. Final selection. Out of the 12 that made it through "Hell Week". Only about 5 were selected. My son was NOT one of those 5. However, during his debrief, the Colonel said he'd really like him to try again in the spring. So, into his 3rd year of grad school. my son went back to Florida this past March. Again, only about 25-27 were invited. Only about 12 made it through. My son made it through again. Final selection, they chose about 5-6 out of the 12. This time he did make it. He's finishing grad school at the end of the summer; turned down the pilot slot; and will be an STO (Special Tactics Officer) starting school in Florida in September.

    First, I'm not sure if this process I mentioned above is just for STO's, or if it's the same for CRO's and ALO's also.

    From his description, and that of a couple of other STO's that I know, here are some differences between STO, CRO, and ALO. STO is assigned permanently to Air Force Special Operations Command. (AFSOC). Their job is specifically "Special Operations". It's Special Operation Air Control with training in Combat Contra, Air Traffic Control, Jumping, Diving, and many others. ALO is "Conventional" Air Control in military environments. Is it possible for an ALO to be assigned to a "Special Operations" mission? I assume it's possible, but I don't know for sure. But again, they are mostly conventional. The CRO (Combat Rescue Office) while in charge of the Para-rescue, aren't themselves actually trained at being an EMT like the PJ's. The STO are involved however with some Combat Search and Rescue. So in a way, the STO does pretty much what a CRO and ALO does, but not the other way around. And the STO is full time Special Operations, while the other two can be in a number of commands. Matter of fact, it's not uncommon for some pilots to do a tour as an ALO and then go back to flying. Whereas the STO is only Special Ops.

    Also, for what it's worth, there are only about 130 STO's in the Air Force. I'm not sure how many CRO's and STO's there are.

    Not sure if this was much help, but it explains a bit of difference. Mainly "MISSION" differences. And the STO is Special Ops and trains to do a lot more and be involved with a lot more other military branches Special Ops more directly. Good luck. Mike.
     
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  10. taymcg12

    taymcg12 Member

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    Mike- Thanks for the description. Definetly provided assurance that I will not necessarily be stuck in communications, aviation, or another position that I do not really desire (no disrespect to those who do those jobs of course) and also provided insight on how the selection works. Tell your son I said congratulations and that maybe one day I can join him!
     
  11. BlahuKahuna

    BlahuKahuna Member

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    Just a note-as far as I know, the ALO career field is trying to move away from using pilots as ALOs, and use officers young enough to go through the entire TACP pipeline. 13L is still a crazy young career field though.
     
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  12. taymcg12

    taymcg12 Member

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    I read on the Air Force careers sight a few months ago that tacp techs were pilots, so I asked my recruiter about it. He told me that not all of them are and also said the same.
     
  13. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    I am not sure but it used to be that if selected for CRO and one did not complete the training, one was then separated from the AF, not placed in another field. Is that correct? Was it correct back in the day (old mind remembers not).
     
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  14. Christcorp

    Christcorp Member

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    Fencermother. I think it depends on each situation.

    Scenario 1: you are graduating from the academy and you get selected for STO or CRO. This training is 2+ years long. This career field will incur an additional commitment beyond the normal 5 years owed after graduating the academy. But let's assume something happened and you didn't finish the training. Say 2 years went by. The Air Force might say that it's better to release you than to train you in another job that is needs of the Air Force, which you may only spend 1-2 years really doing and your 5 years is up and you might leave. The additional commitment for STO or CRO is only after you finish that training. And being you didn't finish, you only owe the original 5 still for the academy.

    Scenario 2: I'll use my sons situation because it real and I'm familiar with it. He went to graduate school for 3 years after the academy. So when he's done there and heads to STO training, he already owes a total of 7-8 years to the Air Force. But time at grad school does count. Depending when he was to not finish STO training based on your question, the Air Force would decide how much time he still owes, and if it would be worth putting him into another job. Probably just until his commitment for the academy and grad school are met. At which time they'd probably let him go.

    So the answer really is.... It depends. Depends on how much time they still owe, vs the amount of time they've given, vs the needs of the Air Force, etc. and I would say that it would also matter why he didn't make it through STO training and the input and opinions of the folks at the school. As with anything military related, it the military's needs first, and there is no guaranteed outcome. There's an exception to all rules. Just like some who left the Air Force in their senior year at the academy or even right after graduating. Some had to pay the military back in one form or another. Some didn't and simply went on their way.
     

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