The Perfect Soldier: Special Operations, Commandos, and the Future of Us Warfare by James F. Dunnigan

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Super Sidekicks For SEALS
by James Dunnigan
September 13, 2009

Special operations teams (mainly Delta Force, SEAL and Special Forces ODAs) operating independently usually have an air force combat controller along. These airmen are not only trained to call in air strikes, but also act as air controllers (orchestrate the movements of all aircraft in the vicinity to avoid collisions). In addition, the air controllers are trained to meet the physical and tactical requirements of operating with special operations troops.

This is particularly demanding for those air controllers who work with SEAL teams. This requires 21 months of training. First, the air controller applicants must survive the two week selection course. They then spend 15 weeks at the Air Traffic Control School, where they qualify as air traffic controllers. Then they spend three weeks in jump (airborne) school, followed by three weeks in air force survival school (how to get by in a wilderness and avoid capture). Finally, they get 13 weeks of Air Combat Control school. If they pass all that, they can serve as air controllers for all special operations units except SEALs. For that they need another 12 months of training. This begins with five weeks of physical conditioning (Pre-Scuba school), followed by the six week Combat Diver school. After that comes more parachute training (the four week freefall school). Then they go on to 12 weeks of SEAL Core Skills, followed by eight weeks of Mission Qualifications. If they survive all that, they are qualified to accompany SEAL teams on missions, and call in air strikes for the SEALs.

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