In the nearly sixteen years since the Air Force created the Combat Rescue Officer specialty (13DXA), its members have led over 12,000 combat-rescue missions across the globe, in addition to heading up rescue efforts that have helped more than 5,000 non-military personnel escape life-threatening conditions brought about by natural and manmade disasters.

As one of three officer and four enlisted AFSC specialties that fall under the classification of Battlefield Airmen, Combat Rescue Officers (CROs) are responsible for the command and control of all Personnel Recovery (PR) operations, from the development and execution of Operations Plans, conducting and evaluation Personnel Recovery programs and policies, and management of coordination of Personnel Recovery operations. But they also are direct combatants, serving as leaders in PR operations involving land, air, and maritime assets, and consequently their operational training requirements are as rigorous as those for the most demanding enlisted specialties.

Before earning qualification as an entry-level CRO, candidates must complete nine courses that cover the gamut of foundational skills and knowledge. Following a nine-week indoctrination course held at Lackland Air Force Base (this course is also attended by Pararescue specialists), they will complete courses in Basic and Military Free-fall (MFF) Parachutist skills, Combat Diving, Underwater Egress, and SERE Training (including Basic Survival), as well CRO-specific courses (entry-level CRO and CRO Development). Other courses CROs will take early in their careers Introduction to Personnel Recovery and the Joint Aerospace Command and Control Course.
At advanced levels, CROs are qualified experts in a breathtaking number of fields:
 Advanced Weapons and Small Unit Tactics, Technical Rescue Operations, Small Boat and Watercraft, Combat Dive and Subsurface Search and Recovery operations, static-line and MFF tactical operations, and more.

Just as with the enlisted training program, a high percentage of CRO candidates drop out of training before being deployed to their first assignment. Those that do persevere become part of the Air Force’s Guardian Angel weapon system and are totally committed to ensuring, as their motto says, “That Others May Live…To Return With Honor.”
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