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U.S. Air Force Combat Rescue Officer
USAF Combat Rescue Officer Flash.png
Combat Rescue Officer Flash
Active March 1946–present
Country United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Special Operations Force
Role Combat search and rescue
Part of United States Special Operations Command Insignia.svg United States Special Operations Command
Shield of the United States Air Force Special Operations Command.svg Air Force Special Operations Command or ACC Shield.svg Air Combat Command (Unit dependent)
Nickname(s) Maroon Berets, CROs, PJs, Rescue Rangers
Motto(s) That Others May Live
Maroon beret with Pararescue Flash USAF Pararescue Beret.jpg

A Combat Rescue Officer during a mass casualty exercise at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti

Combat Rescue Officer (CRO) is a career field in the United States Air Force. Its Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) is 13DXA and it was created to strengthen USAF personnel recovery capabilities. The CRO specialty includes direct combatant command and control of Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) operations. They plan, manage and execute the six tasks of CSAR: prepare, report, locate, support, recover, and reintegrate isolated personnel and materiel. CROs conduct strategic, operational and tactical level planning, provide battle staff expertise, manage theater personnel recovery operations and conduct combat operations.


CROs manage day-to-day activities to organize, train and equip assigned personnel to conduct CSAR operations. They deploy as a direct combatant commander of operations. CROs provide subject matter expertise to command battle staffs and theater command and control structure.

CRO duties and responsibilities include planning missions and leading CSAR assets, pararescue and SERE operations, including aerospace interface in the recovery objective area. Supporting joint and combined forces engaged in conventional and special operations air, ground, and/or maritime personnel recovery operations. Advising on readiness of forces based on force status reports, inspections, training exercise and evaluation results. Developing plans and coordinating activities to report, locate and support isolated personnel or materiel. Planning and conducting missions to recover personnel and material, coordinating evacuation of isolated personnel to friendly control. Developing plans and executing the debriefing and reintegration of recovered personnel. Ensuring CSAR activities are organized, and teams/units are trained and equipped to perform the full military spectrum of CSAR and Coalition/Joint PR. Inspecting and evaluating CSAR activities, functions, and personnel.

Training and selection process

The selection process is broken into two phases. Phase I requires an in depth application that summarizes the professional history and qualifications of the individual applying. Heavy consideration is given to prior military service, academic achievement, and leadership abilities. A board of field grade officers review the applications and select the group that will go on to Phase II of selection.

Phase II takes place at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. This phase includes three mile running sessions, 1,500 meter swims, and rucksack marches up to six miles. The goal of Phase II is to place the candidates under extreme fatigue and constant stress to see how they think and act under circumstances that are similar to the real world battlefront. Many young officers going into Phase II drop out or are eliminated, leaving a fraction of the original class.[1]

CRO training consists of the following:

The mission of the Indoctrination Course is to select and train future PJs and CROs. At this school, participants undergo extensive physical conditioning with swimming, running, functional weight training and calisthenics. This course helps prepare students for the rigors of training and the demands of these lifestyles. Other training includes water confidence training, obstacle courses, rucksack marches, diving physics, dive tables, metric manipulations, medical terminology, dive terminology, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and Pararescue history. Graduation of this course is the "ticket to ride the pipeline" and begin learning the special skills that make PJs highly regarded special operators.

Students learn the basic parachuting skills required to infiltrate an objective area by static line airdrop. This course includes ground operations week, tower week, and "jump week" when participants make five parachute jumps. Personnel who complete this training are awarded the basic parachutist rating and are allowed to wear the Parachutist Badge.

U.S. Air Force Pararescuemen from the 82nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, walk their Zodiac to the beach after jumping out of an MH-53 Pave Low helicopter.

The course is divided into four blocks of instruction: (1) Diving Theory, (2) Infiltration/Exfiltration Methods, (3) Open Circuit Diving Operations, and (4) Closed Circuit Diving Operations. The primary focus of AFCDC is to develop Pararescuemen/Combat Rescue Officers and Combat Controller/Special Tactics Officers into competent, capable and safe combat divers/swimmers. The course provides commanders with divers/swimmers capable of undertaking personnel recovery and special operations waterborne missions. AFCDC provides diver training through classroom instruction, extensive physical training, surface and sub-surface water confidence pool exercises, pool familiarization dives, day/night tactical open water surface/sub-surface infiltration swims, open/closed circuit diving procedures and underwater search and recovery procedures. The session culminates with a waterborne field training exercise.

This course teaches how to safely escape from an aircraft that has landed in the water. Instruction includes principles, procedures and techniques necessary to escape a sinking aircraft.

This course teaches basic survival techniques for remote areas using minimal equipment. This includes instruction of principles, procedures, equipment and techniques that help individuals to survive, regardless of climatic conditions or unfriendly environments, and return home.

This course instructs free fall parachuting (HALO) using a high performance parafoil. The course provides wind tunnel training, in-air instruction focusing on student stability, aerial maneuvers, air sense and parachute opening procedures. Each student receives a minimum of 30 free fall jumps including two day and two night jumps with supplemental oxygen, rucksack and load-bearing equipment.

This course teaches advanced SERE skills associated with the tactical PR planning for report, locate, support, recovery and reintegration tasks of the personnel recovery mission. Additionally, this course provides the CRO with knowledge in SERE programs to include emergency parachuting, post egress procedures, life support equipment, land navigation, evasion and assisted evasion, global environments, resistance to exploitation, prisoner of war communications, escape from captivity, physiology and psychology of survival and the development and employment of the SERE specialists during personnel recovery operations. Additionally DoD ran survival courses (High Risk Survival and Hostage Survival) are taught during this time.

This course teaches how to manage trauma patients prior to evacuation and provide emergency medical treatment. Phase I is four weeks of emergency medical technician basic (EMT-B) training. Providing medical care is not the primary role of the CRO as this is the function of the enlisted Pararescue personnel.

Initial qualification course to instruct and certify basic competency in use of maps and charts; command and control principles and procedures; combat search and rescue principles and procedures; flight characteristics of aircraft; communications, weapons handling, signaling devices, and tactical communications procedures; personal protection and sustenance; rough terrain movement and mountain or adverse terrain recoveries and technical rescue, survival techniques; small unit tactics and field leadership; employment techniques to include fast rope, rope ladder, hoist, and rappelling; overland movement to include mounted and dismounted; amphibious operations to include scuba infiltration; and parachuting operations to include static-line and military free-fall parachuting procedures. CRO candidates graduate as non-rated officer aircrew on HH-60 and HC-130 aircraft. Application includes academics, practical training, testing, and evaluation in academics and field environments, flying training, and flight aircraft.

  • Introduction to Personnel Recovery (PR 101), Fort Belvoir, Virginia (3 days)

PR 101 is conducted by the Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA) and is an introduction to the DoD Personnel Recovery system.

  • Joint Aerospace Command and Control Course, Hurlburt Field, Florida (3 weeks)

Teaches the application of joint air operations. [5][6]

See also


External links

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