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Air Force Pararescue and Combat Control Technician (CCT)

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"That Other's May Live" - AF PJ's & "First There" - AF CCTs
AF Special Tactics

Ever thought about getting little more out of your Air Force career? Or have you ever thought about risking your life to save another? Or going behind enemy lines before anyone else to set on a drop zone / air field and help call in fire support to troops who need it?  These are just some of  the missions of the Air Force Special Tactics- the PJs or para-jumpers and CCT or Combat Control Technician. The PJs are responsible for providing emergency and life-saving services to airmen, soldiers and civilians in both peacetime and combat environments. When a plane goes down in the jungle or ocean, it is the PJs who are there to find and save the pilots and crew. Pararescuemen truly live up to their motto, "That Others May Live."   The CCTs are FAA certified air traffic controllers and responsible for conducting all types of missions behind enemy lines while setting air fields, calling in fire support while working jointly with Army SF, Navy SEALs, etc.   The CCT motto is "First There" as they prep the air fields and drop zones for other troops to follow.  


The PAST - Physical Ability and Stamina Test To become a PJ or CCT you must male, a proficient swimmer, meet physical standards of at least 100 points on the Physical Ability and Stamina Test (PAST). This job is open to only enlisted troops. Here are the specifics minimums to becoming a PJ and Combat Control tech but the numbers in the parenthesis are recommended scores from Spec Ops trainers:  

2 x 25 m sub surface swim no time limit

500 m swim 10:07 or less   (sub 9 min)

30 min rest

1.5 mile run 9:47 or less     (sub 9 min)

10 min rest

10 pull ups min                  (20+)

2 min rest

58 sit ups min                   (100+) 2 min rest

54 push ups min                (100+)    

CCT PAST   - 2 x 25 meter underwater (Pass/Fail, 3 min between each) with 10 min rest  - 500 meter swim (freestyle, breaststroke, sidestroke), max time 11 min 42 sec with 30 min rest - 1.5 mile run, max time 10 min 10 sec with 10 min rest - Pull ups in 1 min, 8 x minimum reps with 3 min rest - Sit ups in 2 min, 48 x minimum reps with 3 min rest - Push ups in 2 min, 48 x minimum reps with 3 min rest  

Iron Man Standards:

2  x 25 m sub surface

500 m swim 9:30

1.5 mile run 9:30

13 pull ups

65 sit ups

65 push ups

Once again - these are the minimum scores for the PAST - to be accepted into any Special Force it takes a higher score to be competitive. I would recommend being able to the numbers in parenthesis next to the minimum scores. Once in the PJ Candidate Course, you will be challenged physically for ten weeks in Lackland AFB, Texas. The first phase is known as Team Training and is 8 weeks long. It consists of extensive physical training with swimming, running, weight training, calisthenics and obstacle courses. Educational training such as medical and diving terminology, CPR, weapons qualifications, and dive physics are also part of the Candidate Course.

After the Candidate Course there are two different professions with two different pipelines (but similar) to follow depending on if you want to be a PJ or CCT. Here is the PJ and CCT pipeline of training:

US Army Airborne School - 3 weeks

US Army Combat Divers School - 4 weeks

US Navy Underwater Egress Training - 1 day

US Air Force Basic Survival School - 2.5 weeks

US Army Free-fall Parachutist School - 5 weeks

PJ Pipeline Different Schools

Special Operations Combat Medic Course - 22 weeks

Pararescue Recovery Specialist Course - 20 weeks

CCT Pipeline Different Schools Combat Control Orientation Course, Lackland AFB, Texas -10 days Combat Control Operator Course - 15.5 weeks

Combat Control School - 12 weeks  

For more info see the Official AF Site:  AFPJ  and CCT  

Training is extremely challenging both physically and mentally, but if you graduate and wear the maroon beret (PJ) or the scarlet beret (CCT), you will be one of the most highly trained combat medics / Air controllers in the world, able to handle the most stressful situations with ease. Hats off to those who risk their lives to be the "First There" so "That Others May Live."  

With any download you buy you get over 40 hours of training personally designed for future students of the group AND access to Stew Smith (the author) for any answers to your training questions!!

Download the E-book NOW with the Air Force PJ / CCT Workout 

This is a preparatory workout that will prepare you for the challenges of the swimming, running, PT of PJ training as well as the physical training of CCT to include PT, running, ruck marching,etc..

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Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at

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