Air Force Special Operations Forces

Combat Control Team (CCT)

Combat Control Teams (CCT) (AFSC 1C2X1) are ground combat forces assigned to Special Tactics Squadrons (STS) within the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). The mission of a Combat Controller is to deploy by the most feasible means available into combat and non-permissive environments. Combat Controllers are Special Tactics Operators who establish assault zones, while simultaneously providing: Air Traffic Control, Fire support, and Command and Control Communications in the joint arena. Additionally, Combat Controllers expertly employ all-terrain vehicles, amphibious vehicles, weapons and demolitions. Functions include assault zone assessment and establishment; air traffic control; command and control communications; special operations terminal attack control; and removal of obstacles with demolitions. The CCTs provide a unique capability and deploy with joint air and ground forces in the execution of Direct Action, Counter-Terrorism, Foreign Internal Defense, Humanitarian assistance, Special Reconnaissance, Austere Airfield, and Combat Search and Rescue operations.


Combat Control Teams (CCTs) originated during the airborne campaign of World War II. Major parachute assaults fell well short of expectations, resulting in some cases with personnel being air dropped as much as 30 miles from their intended target areas. The shortcomings of these operations identified the need for effective guidance and control of air transported combat forces. Thus, a small parachute scout company of Army pathfinders was organized and trained. Their mission was to precede the main assault force to an objective area and, through the use of high powered lights, flares and smoke pots, provide visual guidance and critical weather information to inbound aircraft.

In 1943, pathfinders were first employed during the airborne reinforcement of allied troops in Italy. Later, pathfinders from the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions played an integral role in the Normandy invasion.

After the establishment of the U.S. Air Force as a separate service on 18 September 1947, organizational changes resulted in tactical airlift and aerial port squadrons assuming responsibility for support of the U.S. Army ground forces. Air Force pathfinder teams, later called combat control teams, were activated in January of 1953 to provide navigational aids and air traffic control for the growing airlift forces. They were incorporated into aerial port squadrons and remained there until 1977, when they were assigned to the Director of Operations. In 1984 combat control was restructured into a system of squadrons and detachments reporting directly to numbered Air Forces and in 1991 they were placed under the control of host wing commanders.


Combat Controllers and Pararescuemen must be capable of deploying by the most advantageous means into their mission areas. For this reason, a variety of deployment techniques are used by both specialties. The level of training you receive in certain deployment methods will be dependent upon the unit you are assigned. However, most of these deployment capabilities will be taught during initial training

Parachute operations (Jumpmaster directed spotting for accuracy)Operation Iraqi Freedom

  • Static line (low altitude)
  • With combat equipment
  • With SCUBA equipment
  • Into forested areas
  • Into vast bodies of water

High Altitude Low Opening (military free fall)

  • With combat equipment
  • With oxygen

High Altitude High Opening (cross country canopy flight)

  • With combat equipment
  • With oxygen

Waterborne Infiltration’s

  • SCUBA/Draegger
  • Submarine lock-outs
  • Aircraft boat drops
  • Rubber Raiding Craft operations
  • Scout (surface) swimming

Mountain Operations

  • Rock/ice climbing
  • Rappelling
  • High angle evacuations

Helicopter Operations

  • Rappelling
  • Fast rope
  • Rope Ladder
  • Hoist operations (PJs)
  • Gunner/scanner (PJs)

Overland Movement

  • Motorcycles
  • All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs)
  • Motor vehicle
  • Team navigation

Arctic Operationscct1

  • Cross country skiing
  • Downhill skiing
  • Skijoring
  • Snowmobiles
  • Snowshoes
  • Akhio

Combat Control Prerequisites

  •     Be a volunteer
  •     Be a US Citizen
  •     Be a male (based on current Department of Defense policies)
  •     Have a general score of at least 43 on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test
  •     Have vision of best eye 20/70, worst eye 20/100; correctable to 20/20. (No Radial Keratotomy..)
  •     Have normal color vision
  •     Meet specific physical fitness standards
  •     Be a proficient swimmer
  •     Be a High School graduate or have a GED
  •     Able to obtain a SECRET security clearance
  •     Successful completion of the PAST test
  •     Minimum physical profile (PULHES) of 111111 (no problems)
  •     Pass an Initial flying class III physical qualification of aircrew, parachute, and maritime diving duty
  •     Strength aptitude standard of “K” for retention of AFSC

Combat Control Orientation Course (Enlisted)

Course Description

Introduces airmen to Combat Control history, missions, and career field specific skills. Students are required to participate in a rigorous physical fitness program that introduces them to physical exercises that are conducted during the pipeline. The course includes the following events: running, swimming, calisthenics, weight training, sports nutrition, sports medicine, M-16/M-9 weapons qualification, CPR qualification, and Combat Control related skills. Upon graduation, students attend the following pipeline courses: ATC – Air Traffic Control School 15.5 weeks, US Army Airborne Parachutist 3 weeks, US Air Force Combat Survival 2.5 weeks, US Air Force Underwater Egress Training 1 day, and Combat Control School 13 weeks (AFSC awarding course).


Combat controllers are among the most highly trained personnel in the U.S. military. They maintain air traffic control qualification skills throughout their careers; many qualify and maintain currency in joint terminal attack control procedures, in addition to other special operations skills.  Their 35-week training and unique mission skills earn them the right to wear the scarlet beret.

Combat Control Orientation Course, Lackland Air Force Base, TX:  This two-week orientation course focuses on sports physiology, nutrition, basic exercises, CCT history and fundamentals.

Combat Control Operator Course, Keesler AFB, MS: This 15 ½ -week course teaches aircraft recognition and performance, air navigation aids, weather, airport traffic control, flight assistance service, communication procedures, conventional approach control, radar procedures and air traffic rules. This is the same course that all Air Force air traffic controllers attend and is the heart of a combat controller’s job.

U.S. Army Airborne School, Fort Benning, GA: This three-week course teaches basic parachuting skills required to infiltrate an objective area by static line airdrop.

U.S. Air Force Basic Survival School, Fairchild AFB, WA: This two-and-a-half-week course teaches basic survival techniques for remote areas. Instruction includes principles, procedures, equipment and techniques, which enables individuals to survive, regardless of climatic conditions or unfriendly environments and return home.

combat-control-teamCombat Control School, Pope AFB, NC: This 13-week course provides final CCT qualifications. Training includes physical training, small unit tactics, land navigation, communications, assault zones, demolitions, fire support and field operations including parachuting. At the completion of this course, each graduate is awarded the 3-skill level (journeymen), scarlet beret and CCT flash.

Special Tactics Advanced Skills Training, Hurlburt Field, FL: Advanced Skills Training (AST) is a 12-to-15-month program for newly assigned combat controller operators. AST produces mission-ready operators for the Air Force and United States Special Operations Command. The AST schedule is broken down into four phases: water, ground, employment, and full mission profile. The course tests the trainee’s personal limits through demanding mental and physical training. Combat controllers also attend the following schools during AST:

U.S. Army Military Free Fall Parachutist School, Fort Bragg, N.C., and Yuma Proving Grounds, AZ: This course instructs trainees in free fall parachuting procedures. The five-week course provides wind tunnel training, in-air instruction focusing on student stability, aerial maneuvers, air sense, parachute opening procedures and parachute canopy control.

U.S. Air Force Combat Divers School, Panama City, FL: Trainees become combat divers, learning to use scuba and closed circuit diving equipment to covertly infiltrate denied areas. The four-week course provides training to depths of 130 feet, stressing development of maximum underwater mobility under various operating conditions.

U.S. Navy Underwater Egress Training, Pensacola Naval Air Station, FL: This course teaches how to safely escape from an aircraft that has ditched in the water. The one-day instruction includes principles, procedures and techniques necessary to get out of a sinking aircraft.

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