Cadets prepare for special warfare pre-commissioning screening

  • Published
  • By Randy Roughton
  • Strategic Communications
The U.S. Air Force Academy Special Warfare Club prepares cadets for the challenging Air Force Special Warfare career field pre-commissioning screening.

Preparing cadets for an Air Force Specialty Code
“Our club is very important as it is designed to prepare cadets for an actual Air Force Specialty Code that is undermanned and involves high-risk events,” said Col. John Graver, Special Warfare Club lead officer in charge. “Because of the skills we teach them, such as water and land fitness, small-unit tactics, training event planning, risk management, troop leading procedures and interviews, these cadets not only prepare for our Air Force Specialty Code but also may assist other squadron training.”

The Academy and Air Force ROTC have historically struggled to fill the 58 annual commissioning slots, impacting unit manning and readiness, said Graver.

Beginning the marathon
Last year, Cadet 1st Class Cole Heeg joined the club but took on a supervisory role as a cadet in charge this year.

“The farthest the club can get you is the first step of a marathon,” Heeg said. “But this club can hopefully instill skills that will set people up for long-term success in the pipeline and in the career field. Through the club and the rest of their Academy experiences, they will hopefully be whole person-developed officers who will have the moral integrity, interpersonal skills, physical fitness and problem-solving abilities to lead Airmen through the pipeline and be consummate professionals after graduation.”

Phase I is an application process; Phase II involves a fitness test, land, water and leadership events and interviews. The club prepares cadets for Phase II.

Heeg was approved during the Phase II screening last year. He continues to help other cadet club members in his supervisory role as he makes the next step in the marathon in a potential Special Warfare career.

Formalized cadet special warfare training program

The club’s formalized, objective-based program with qualified oversight provides opportunities for cadets aspiring to become special warfare officers. The program offers more than 30 lesson plans which are available to the 145 ROTC detachments.

“[Academy] cadets can always be very proud that the [Special Warfare Club] program was the origin for a formalized program,” Graver added.

Special Warfare Air Force Specialty Code
Air Force Special Warfare is the service’s premier offensive ground combat force, integrating airpower with the Joint Force to conduct global access, precision strike and personnel recovery missions.

Airmen specialize in air, ground, space, and cyber integration to achieve all-domain dominance in hostile or politically sensitive environments. The Special Warfare Air Force Specialty Code consists of special tactics officers, tactical air control party officers and combat rescue officers. These are the Air Force’s only career fields that require a rigorous, week-long mentally and physically demanding pre-commissioning screening called Phase II, Graver said. Special Warfare career hopefuls must attend Phase II during their junior or senior year and be competitively selected by the hiring board. Once selected, candidates begin the rigorous pipeline immediately following commissioning.

The Special Warfare Club is now open to part-time or full-time participation, Graver continued. This allows intercollegiate athletes or cadets with other extra-curricular activities to participate.

For more photos of the Special Warfare Club’s Mini-Phase II event, see Flickr.