Special Warfare Preparatory Course changes the way Airmen train

SOCOM tour of AETC

U.S. Army Gen. Richard D. Clarke, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. and U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Gregory Smith, USSOCOM command chief,(both center), listen to a brief during a tour of the Special Warfare Training Wing's water confidence drill Oct. 16, 2020, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. They both saw firsthand how Air Education and Training Command ensures joint forces are well equipped with ready and lethal special operations Airmen during the tour. The tour traced the initial skills training path of special operators from recruiting and accessions through basic and technical training.

TACP Apprentice Course

Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) instructors, 353rd Special Warfare Training Squadron, conduct physical training drills during the TACP apprentice course, Jan. 14, 2020, at Joint Base San Antonio-Medina Annex, Texas. During the apprentice course, Airmen will learn various skill sets appropriate to execute the TACP mission. The training includes portable radio and satellite communications, combat field skills, day and night vehicle navigation, conducting mission planning during close air support scenarios or being able to utilize targeting programs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sarayuth Pinthong)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-CHAPMAN TRAINING ANNEX, Texas – The Air Force’s Special Warfare Training Wing has refined its training program for Airmen attempting to enter the Tactical Air Control Party, Special Tactics or Guardian Angel weapons systems, in an effort to create more well-rounded future operators.

Following graduation from Basic Military Training, new enlisted Airmen interested in becoming a candidate for a career in special warfare must complete the eight week Special Warfare Preparatory Course (SWPC). In this course, training coaches, dieticians, counselors and other staff members expose Airmen to the tools needed to become successful within the various special warfare training pipelines. Upon completion of SWPC, Airmen enter into the course of initial entry for their particular career field.

“Our course is meant to better develop operators,” said Master Sgt. Michael Blout, Special Warfare Preparatory Course superintendent. “We are providing better, more well-rounded training, which provides the Air Force with more capable operators straight out of the training pipeline.”

This deliberate approach to training takes a more holistic edge involving multiple disciplines and modalities consisting of strength & conditioning, mental toughness, nutrition, sleep hygiene and active recovery.  Additionally, the SWPC staff incorporates Human Performance monitoring to track conditioning throughout the 8 week course.  This Human Performance capability informs the staff on the level of effectiveness for each of the SW candidates.     

“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 Sgt. Todd Popovic, Special Warfare Training Wing command chief. “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.”

For more information on special warfare career fields visit https://www.airforce.com/careers/indemand-careers/special-warfare.