Special Tactics Officer (STO, 19ZXA) Frequently Asked Questions
INTER-SERVICE TRANSFERS QUESTIONS
I am currently serving in another branch of the service. I am interested in doing an IST into the Air Force and would like more information.
Officers in other services seeking to apply should reference their current service’s regulations and policies governing IST, as well as AFI 36-2005, Officer Accessions, Chapter 7 and AFPC Inter-service Transfer website https://www.afpc.af.mil/Career-Management/IST/. Members who are interested in a 19Z career will first submit their application to attend A&S with the approval of their current command. If selected at A&S, the member will return to their owning command and start the IST process. The IST process can take 12+ months to complete, and it is recommended that interested applicants have a minimum of 18 months of retention prior to any ETS or PCS actions to complete the IST. Selection at A&S is not a guarantee that the member will be approved to transfer into the Air Force, nor does it influence the sister service’s decision to approve the member for transfer to the USAF. It is highly encouraged that the member check with his/her current service human resource office for their eligibility to transfer services prior to attending A&S.
I’ve heard the USAF is not accepting IST officers at this time, I wanted to see when the IST program would be opening back up for applications? I was interested in trying to transfer.
Despite the USAF IST program currently being suspended due to current force management policy, AFSPECWAR career fields (CRO, STO, TACPO) are still able to accept IST applicants due to the critical manning levels in these career fields. IST applicants for AFSPECWAR will only be considered after they are selected at an AFSPECWAR A&S.
Is there a minimum or maximum Time in Service requirement to be eligible for IST?
No, as long as your current service approves your release to transfer to the USAF, you are eligible to apply for IST. Due to the length of the IST process and the training pipeline, it is encouraged that interested applicants apply as Company Grade Officers.
I have unique qualifications from my current service (e.g. Airborne, Air Assault, Pathfinder, Ranger, EIB, etc). Will that influence my selection at A&S or the IST process?
While advanced qualifications are beneficial to a member’s tactical proficiency, they do not have any influence on a selection decision at A&S, nor do they have any bearing on the member’s eligibility for IST.
TRAINING PIPELINE QUESTIONS
Could you give me any definitive details on the current courses in the pipeline and any relevant timeline information available for those courses?
The pipeline courses are typically conducted in the order below, but the order of some courses may fluctuate based on course availability:
- Special Warfare Assessment & Selection Course
- JBSA-Lackland Annex, TX
- 21 days
- Special Warfare Pre-Dive Course,
- JBSA-Lackland Annex, TX
- 25 days
- Combat Dive Open Circuit/Closed Circuit Course
- Panama City, FL
- 33 days
- Static-line Parachutist Course Location
- Ft Benning, GA
- 17 days
- Military Free-fall Parachutist Course
- Ft Bragg, NC/Yuma, AZ
- 20 days
- Survival, Evasion, Resistance, & Escape Skills and Underwater Egress Training
- Fairchild AFB, WA
- 17 days
- Special Tactics Officer Airfield Operations Course
- Pope AFB, NC
- 79 days
- Special Tactics Officer Course
- Pope AFB, NC
- 60 days
- Special Tactics Advanced Skills Training
- Hurlburt Field AFB, FL,
- ~6 months
The STO Application says that candidates who are selected from A&S will PCS to Lackland AFB. Will those candidates remain stationed at Lackland throughout the entire pipeline, or only until AST?
STO students will PCS to Lackland AFB for their Initial Skills Training portion of their pipeline. Students will attend the pipeline courses that are not located on Lackland AFB in TDY status. Upon completion of Initial Skills Training, students will PCS to Hurlburt Field, FL to conduct the Advanced Skills Training portion of their pipeline.
If I am selected at A&S, will I immediately begin the training pipeline?
Upon Selection at SW A&S, candidates will return to their current duty station until their PCS orders to the 350th SWTS at Lackland AFB are generated. Students will not begin the training pipeline nor be scheduled to attend training until they are fully in-processed to the 350th SWTS. For ROTC and USAFA cadets, orders will be generated through the AFPC Accessions office for PCS after commissioning. For AF cross-flow officers, the AFPC 19Z Assignments Manager will coordinate your PCS orders. For OTS candidates, the AFRS Line Officer Accessions will coordinate your attendance at OTS as a TDY en-route to your PCS to Lackland AFB. For IST officers, orders will be coordinated through AFPC after your IST into the USAF is approved.
On the Airforce website it shows about a year of training. Is there any time off between those training courses or is it once you complete one training you move to the next one immediately? Am I able to take leave during training?
Since the course scheduling depends on a multitude of factors, such as BMT graduation dates, sister service course availability, and varying course lengths in the training pipeline, there is typically a time gap between courses where students will return to their primary duty station. While there is typically an opportunity for students to visit family and friends around the holiday season, taking leave during training is generally discouraged. Special circumstances, such as emergency leave, are dealt with on a case-by-case basis with the member’s command team.
I currently have an UFT/UPRT ADSC, or non-LAF initial ADSC (JAG, Medical, etc). Can I still apply for cross-flow into an AFSPECWAR career?
AFSPECWAR cannot guarantee your release from your current AFSC if you have not fulfilled your ADSC. Check with your Career Field Manager or AFPC Assignments Officer for eligibility before applying.
The application says I need a Special Warfare Airman medical clearance. What is that? How do I complete it? How long does it take?
The Special Warfare Airman (SWA) medical clearance is specific to the officer 19Z career fields and enlisted 1Z career fields, and is used to annotate the member is medically able to perform AFSPECWAR duties. The SWA medical clearance should be performed at an Air Force Medical Treatment Facility in the Flight Medicine Clinic, similar to the IFC-I/II/III. USAFA cadets can complete the SWA physical at USAFA; all others should schedule an appointment at the Flight Medicine Clinic at the nearest Air Force Medical Treatment Facility. The SWA takes a minimum of 30 days from the date of completion to be certified. Depending on any necessary follow up appointments or waivers, the process can take several months to complete. Details on the SWA clearance can be found in DAFMAN 48-123 and the Medical Standards Directory.
A&S – Assessment and Selection
ADSC – Active Duty Service Commitment
AFI – Air Force Instruction
AFPC – Air Force Personnel Center
AFRS – Air Force Recruiting Service
AFSPECWAR – Air Force Special Warfare
AST – Advanced Skills Training
CRO - Combat Rescue Officer
IFC – Initial Flying Class
IST – Initial Skills Training
OTS – Officer Training School
PCS – Permanent Change of Station
STO – Special Tactics Officer
SWA – Special Warfare Airmen
TACPO – Tactical Air Control Party Officer
TDY – Temporary Duty