What is the Air Force Equivalent of a Navy SEAL?

What is the Air Force Equivalent of a Navy SEAL


A branch of the United States Navy, the Navy SEALs also known as the United States Navy Sea, Air, and Land Teams are a special operations force and a vital component of the Naval Special Warfare Command. The unit was in existence since before but the force was only officially founded in January 1962. The ‘Father of Naval Special Warfare’ is Phil H. Bucklew, who was part of the first group trained. While the credit for the creation of the Navy SEALs is wrongly given to President Kennedy, it was the Chief of Naval Operations- Admiral Arleigh Burke. It was he who recommended establishing guerilla and counter-guerrilla units. Read to find what is the air force equivalent of a navy seal.

The United States Air Force’s Special Tactics force can be said to be the Air Force equivalent of the Navy’s SEAL team. It is one of the elite forces by the US Air Force. Because of their distinctive skill set, they are many times the first special ops unit deployed into emergency or disastrous situations. 

To provide the US military with special tactics capability a small group of highly skilled male personnel was brought together in the 1970s. What we know today as the Air Force Special Tactics was previously known as ‘Brand X’.
The wing has a training squadron and two operational groups. Together, the elements of the wing are in 16 locations. The airmen as per reports are deployed in more than 73 locations currently.
Airmen of the Special Tactics team are the most decorated for gallantry and heroism since the Vietnam War. They have hundreds of Bronze Stars, 11 Air Force Crosses, and 50 Silver Stars awarded to the airmen of this operation.
The combat controllers, pararescue specialists, and special operations weathermen in these teams are among the extraordinary service members of the force.

Duties and Qualification for Joining

The pararescue specialists of the Air Force Special Operations are also known as ‘para jumpers or ‘PJs’. Their chief mission is personnel recovery. They also save and rescue service members from locations that are hard to reach or are hostile.
The parajumpers have run over 12,000 successful combat rescue missions since the 9/11 attack. In addition to this, they have also rescued 5,000 civilians from natural disasters.
If the Air Force officer is selected for the transfer they should expect approximately 70 weeks of training before their first mission. They would be trained in para jumping, emergency medical treatment, and diving. 

The qualifications one needs to meet to become a pararescue specialist are:

  • The aspirant should be between the age of 17 and 39.
  • A basic training graduate
  • Should be able to get a secret security clearance
  • They should be financially responsible
  • EMT-certified
  • Have to be deemed to be physically fit to jump from an airplane and SCUBA dive
  • They should have high general ASVAB scores

The support that a combat controller of the Air Force Special Operations provides is second to none. These airmen are the most highly trained out of them all. Their duties are the same as that of a civilian air traffic controller, the only difference is they operate in foreign territories made dangerous by enemy fire or harsh and extreme weather conditions. They can infiltrate via air, land, or sea and can also control assets in the sky.
Their training involves learning to drive a snowmobile, parachute, and SCUBA dive. The completion of the technical training takes over 94 weeks. 

The qualifications for applying are: 

  • Should be between the age of 17 and 39 years.
  • Should be a basic training graduate
  • Should be physically fit to serve on airstrips, dive, and jump from airplanes.
  • Should be financially responsible
  • Possess the skills of a mechanic

Becoming an Air Force Special Operations Weatherman is a great career choice for someone interested in weather and new technology. The military meteorologists are deployed with the other units of the Special Forces from the Army and the Marine Corps. They are there to provide them with the weather reports critical to their mission.
Their training takes over 138 weeks to complete. In this time period, they learn how to report weather and environmental conditions. They also learn to use sensitive instruments and join the special forces.
The qualifications for applying are: 

  • Should be between the age of 17 and 39 years.
  • Should be a basic training graduate
  • Physically fit and able to parachute
  • Financially responsible
  • State licensed to drive
  • Qualified to bear firearms
  • Should be good with electronics

Notable Officers of the Special Tactics Force

Captain Berry Crawford who is a Special Tactics Officer was presented and awarded the Air Force Cross for his heroism during a 14-hour long battle in Afghanistan on 4th May 2010.
He was attached to an Army Special Force team together with Afghan commandos as the joint terminal attack controller. A helicopter assault was conducted by the team at night to gather intelligence from a village. They were attacked by the enemy soldiers after sunrise which wounded a few Afghan soldiers. To guide the helicopter to the landing zone for medical evacuation, Captain Crawford ran out in the open which exposed himself to enemy gunfire. After the injured were successfully evacuated, Captain along with the Special Forces team exfiltrated the area without any American casualties.
In the course of the battle, he coordinated close aerial support. He called for over 40 airstrikes from 33 separate aircraft. 
Three high-ranking commanders of the enemy and over 80 insurgents were killed during this mission. 

Mission Undertaken by the Navy SEALs

The Navy SEALs are the United States’ most go-to special forces organization. Ever since their inception, they have been a part of every major war and conflict that the USA has been involved in.
During the Vietnam War 12- men SEAL platoons went in and out of South Vietnam for their deployment. They mostly worked at night. They used helicopters and boats to conduct direct action assignments like hit-and-run raids, intelligence collection, ambushes, reconnaissance patrols, and personnel recovery.
In 1983 the then President of the United States- Ronald Reagan put into action ‘Operation Urgent Fury’. The SEAL team had to invade and overthrow the communist government in Grenada. The team destroyed the Caribbean island’s only radio tower and swam to the sea after they were attacked by enemy forces. They also rescued the Governor-General of the island, Sir Paul Scoon who was under house arrest.
SEALs became the most elite fighters and became the object of global admiration after they successfully pulled off a special ops most high profile raid resulting in the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. The manhunt that began after the 9/11 attacks concluded after 10 years on 2nd May 2011. They landed in Abbottabad in Pakistan which was found to be his hiding location. After clearing the first two floors, Bin Laden was found on the third floor where he was killed. 


The Special Forces are the first response team during any crisis or hostile event. This makes them the backbone of the military system. Their training and their missions distinguish them from any other soldier. Most of their operations are covert and their identities are mostly kept secret to safeguard their life.


  1. Which is better between the Army and the Air Force?

Ans: While both branches of the military have jobs in similar areas, it all depends on the preference of the aspirant. If the individuals want a job with more opportunities in combat they should opt for the Army. If the individuals have more interest in technology, they would like to join AirForce more. 

What is the Air Force Equivalent of a Navy SEAL?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top