HomeVisitMuseum ExhibitsFact SheetsDisplay

Forging Battlefield Airmen

PJ candidate Airman 1st Class Michael Lauria shows the strain of rigorous training during pararescue indoctrination. (U.S. Air Force photo)

PJ candidate Airman 1st Class Michael Lauria shows the strain of rigorous training during pararescue indoctrination. (U.S. Air Force photo)

HALO (High Altitude, Low Opening) parachute training. Note the jumpers wear portable oxygen masks needed at high altitude. (U.S. Air Force photo)

HALO (High Altitude, Low Opening) parachute training. Note the jumpers wear portable oxygen masks needed at high altitude. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Pararescueman rappelling from the Baghdad International Airport control tower in July 2003. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Pararescueman rappelling from the Baghdad International Airport control tower in July 2003. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Pararescue candidate Airman Basic Matthew Bernard performs over 1,000 flutter kicks while wearing a water-filled mask after 20 hours of non-stop physical training. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Pararescue candidate Airman Basic Matthew Bernard performs over 1,000 flutter kicks while wearing a water-filled mask after 20 hours of non-stop physical training. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Senior Airmen Glenn Wilderman and Nathanial Bryant practice close-combat skills at Wheeler Army Air Field, Hawaii, on Thursday,  April 13, 2006. The Airmen are tactical air controllers from the 25th Air Support Operations Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)

Senior Airmen Glenn Wilderman and Nathanial Bryant practice close-combat skills at Wheeler Army Air Field, Hawaii, on Thursday, April 13, 2006. The Airmen are tactical air controllers from the 25th Air Support Operations Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo)

Master Sgt. Craig Hillsman provides a "cleared hot" call to an attacking A-10 Thunderbolt II during a training exercise at the Nevada Test and Training Range.  Sergeant Hillsman is a joint terminal attack controller instructor with the 6th Combat Training Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.  JTACs are recognized throughout the U.S. military as experts in air-to-ground operations.  Once the JTAC receives authorization from the ground maneuver force commander, he can clear an aircraft to attack a desired target.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald)

Master Sgt. Craig Hillsman provides a "cleared hot" call to an attacking A-10 Thunderbolt II during a training exercise at the Nevada Test and Training Range. Sergeant Hillsman is a joint terminal attack controller instructor with the 6th Combat Training Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. JTACs are recognized throughout the U.S. military as experts in air-to-ground operations. Once the JTAC receives authorization from the ground maneuver force commander, he can clear an aircraft to attack a desired target. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Kevin J. Gruenwald)

Staff Sgt. Jody Ball, 10th Combat Weather Squadron, scans the surrounding area for threats while Tech Sgt. Rick Rohde, 10th CWS, collects weather data during a training exercise held near Hurlburt Field, Fla.

Staff Sgt. Jody Ball, 10th Combat Weather Squadron, scans the surrounding area for threats while Tech Sgt. Rick Rohde, 10th CWS, collects weather data during a training exercise held near Hurlburt Field, Fla.

The requirements and training for Battlefield Airmen are some of the most demanding in the U.S. military. They must first volunteer, and to be selected they must have strong character, high intelligence and be in excellent physical condition. Then, after up to two years of intense training, they become initially qualified. In some Battlefield Airmen specialties, more than half of those who start either drop out or are disqualified.

In addition to mission-specific instruction, candidates attend SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) school, parachute training, and some learn combat scuba diving. To fight alongside land forces, they must learn small unit tactics, hand-to-hand combat and small arms. Many Battlefield Airmen take the same courses as other unconventional forces like Army Green Berets and Navy SEALs.

This tough training does not end with initial qualification, but it continues throughout their career. 

Click here to return to the Warrior Airmen Overview.

Featured Links

Plan Your Visit button
E-newsletter Sign-up button
Explore Museum Exhibits button
Browse Photos button
Visit Press Room button
Become a Volunteer button
Air Force Museum Foundation button
Donate an item button