The evolving role of the Air Force’s special tactics units, particularly the new special reconnaissance (SR) career field, as the military shifts focus to potential conflicts with near-peer adversaries like China and Russia. This shift involves adapting tactics and training to operate in more challenging environments and under heightened risk, a significant change from the past two decades of counterterrorism operations.
- Shift in Military Focus: The US military is preparing for conflicts with near-peer adversaries, necessitating a shift in tactics and training for special tactics units like the SR and combat controllers (CCTs).
- Evolution of Special Tactics Roles: Combat controllers, historically serving as joint terminal attack controllers in counterterrorism, are now focusing more on establishing airfields in hostile environments, reflecting a broader change in operational focus.
- Challenges in Near-Peer Conflicts: The new operational environment may limit close support from aircraft due to enemy air defenses, requiring SR Airmen to perform remote reconnaissance and guide airstrikes from a distance.
- Adaptation of Pararescue Missions: Pararescuemen (PJs) are training for scenarios where medical evacuation is more challenging, preparing to provide extended care in contested environments with limited resources.
- Risk Tolerance and Mission Planning: The article emphasizes the need for special operations forces to reassess and reframe their approach to risk and mission planning in anticipation of future conflicts with major powers.