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New USAF Special Warfare Symbol

This is the symbol for the new Air Force Special Warfare careerfield (Enlisted is 1Z and Officer is 19). It’s surrounded by the latest versions of the enlisted beret badges, including the new Special Reconnaissance AFSC, which replaces Special Operations Weather Team*.

The SR AFSC has already transitioned to 1Z with Pararescue and Combat Control to follow suit later this year. Along with a new AFSC, they are said to get new job titles as well. TACP and Air Liaison Officers will remain as is, at least for now. Special Tactics Officers and Combat Rescue Officers are supposed to become Special Warfare Officers.

The three new 1Z shredouts as well as STOs and CROs currently wear different colored berets. The plan is transition all to a completely new shade of Grey; Gunmetal. Once again, TACP/ALO will remain in Black berets. That is supposed to change this Fall concurrent with the amalgamation of active duty Pararescue Squadrons into Air Force Special Operations Command. Along with the current Special Tactics Squadrons they are supposed to transition into Special Warfare Squadrons. However, the beret transition is at the direction of the current AF Chief of Staff, General Goldfien. Many at the unit level feel that their heritage is being stripped away and don’t want to make the change, hoping the next CSAF won’t enact the change once he’s in place late this Summer.

As for this new symbol, don’t expect it to be used officially for anything. Guardian Angel used the globe wings for years as a morale symbol. Even so, do notice anything odd about it?

*Never fear, rumor has it Army SOF will soon once again have actual weather support as required by the Key West agreement thanks to Air Combat Command, which is standing up a Flight of Weather Parachutists, just like the old days. Rumor was bad. ACC has no intention of supporting Army SOF. Any support will come from AFSOC weather, remotely.

26 Responses to “New USAF Special Warfare Symbol”

  1. Chuck says:

    So scarlet, maroon, grey berets are going away and being replaced by gunmetal gray berets with distinctive devices for each AFSC?

    And all rescue squadrons are going to be called Special Warfare Squadrons, making them indistinguishable from the old STSs that will also be called SWSs?

    I remember the old days of AFSOC owning RQSs before ACC took them over. Sounds like it’s basically returning to that construct with the new designation as window dressing.

    • Rob M says:

      Know your history. Rescue was under MAC, then AMC, then ACC, then AFSOC. Then it went back to ACC during the contract messup of trying to get Chinooks to replace the Pavelow helicopter and hiding it under the guise of replacing the Pavehawk.

      Change is going to happen. Can’t tell you how many times during my career I went from being under different commands and squadrons. Let’s when rescue went from AAR to RQS because some fix wings wanted to be called AAR. Thank God they didn’t get the Green Giant to.

  2. Loopy says:

    Please, can we stop with the new beret colors?

    • Anibal P says:

      But why? Beret colors are fine, it helps distinguish the roles and builds esprit de corps
      Just because the Army is anal about differentiation and moral building doesn’t mean AF has to do it also

  3. Stefan S. says:

    AF with berets was a me too moment.

    • Rob Skinner says:

      The AF has been wearing berets for decades, maybe since the army air corps.

    • Dan says:

      Pararescue has been wearing the beret since 1966, only four years after SF became authorized to wear the green beret.

    • John says:

      AF has had berets since vietnam. Theyve had them longer than the infantry.

    • DSM says:

      Pararescue started out with a blue beret and jump wings as a flash at the unit levels in Vietnam. It was never officially authorized beyond that to my knowledge. Then in the post-Vietnam slump of the 70s the Director, Security Police, BGen Sadler if memory serves, wanted to raise the morale of his SPs and got the dark blue beret authorized. The Combat Security Police units had worn a similar blue beret but lighter in color, you see, but the darker shade better matched the service uniforms. So, tradition for the PJs was erased and they took on the maroon beret shortly after. An instance where being a smaller career field with no officer corps at the time doesn’t help. It’s an abbreviated, paraphrased history and from my now rotten memory. I was an SP/SF and had to rein in the young troops eating up the notion they were some sort of commando. Nope, too many missile field cops smoking dope on duty in the 70s so they wanted everyone to feel special.

      It’s a hat only worn in garrison. I understand the intent but a lot of brave airmen have fought and died under those colors and this is an instance of the constantly reinventing itself Air Force needing to stop and let well enough alone. A PJ doesn’t know everything CCT knows or what SOWTs do and so on. They’re different and unique for a reason.

      • Ton E says:

        Well said DSM the gunmetal berets make as much sense as the “new” Army Greens.

        • SSD says:

          There’s a method to this madness. They are creating something new, bringing three different careerfields together into a single identity. SW is their vision of the future.

      • John says:

        Pararescue never wore a beret color other than maroon. CCT, TACP, Combat Weather Teams and a bunch of others wore te blue during the Vietnam era as unit authorized headgear. CCT, TACP. Combat Weather Teams were duty assignments lacking a specified specialty code or specialty code shred.

        The maroon beret with Pararescue beret crest (device) badge was approve for all awarded the Pararescue Specialty 5-digit 3, 5, 7, and 9 Skill level code effective 1 June 1996.

        Although Air Force Tactical Air Control Parties (TACP) were existing since 1947 and Air Force Combat Control Teams were established in 1953 these were no specific specialty codes for these duty assignments until many decades later. The enlisted TACP (actually) Radio Operator Maintainer Driver (ROMAD) Specialty wasn’t established until 1977. CCT didn’t become an enlisted Air Traffic Controller Specialty Shred until July 1971 and didn’t become a specific Specialty Code until effective October 1981.

        Special Operations Weather Teams were a short lived 10 to 12 person experiment during period 1964 thru to 1970 that was quickly abandoned. Yes a Weather Parachutist beret was authorized for decades but there were no training standards common to the duty assignments other than completing jump school and being assigned to a duty position requiring parachuting duties being performed. The short lived SOW (2009 thru to 2019) didn’t last operational capability need justification and verification and was reengineered into the new never previously existing Special Reconnaissance specialty.

        The badge if legitimate gives respects to the first existing Air Force Special Warfare specialty that set the benchmarks and standards for the others.

        The release of the 31 October 2019 (AFECD) is expected to officially introduce the new enlisted Special Warfare careeerfield. It will have four specialties:

        These four enlisted specialties are:

        1Z1XX Pararescue (previously 1T2X1)

        1Z2XX Combat Control (previously 1C2X1)

        1Z3XX Tactical Air Control Party (previously 1C4X1).

        1Z4X1 Special Reconnaissance (established 30 April 2019, reinvented from the 1W0X2 Special Operations Weather).

        • “Special Operations Weather Teams were a short lived 10 to 12 person experiment during period 1964 thru to 1970 that was quickly abandoned. Yes a Weather Parachutist beret was authorized for decades but there were no training standards common to the duty assignments other than completing jump school and being assigned to a duty position requiring parachuting duties being performed. The short lived SOW (2009 thru to 2019) didn’t last operational capability need justification and verification and was reengineered into the new never previously existing Special Reconnaissance specialty.”

          This is so full of incorrect information it’s completely laughable

          The US Army Air Force had parachute qualified weather forecasters and observers attached to the Office of Strategic Services during WWII, and they jumped behind enemy lines in Burma and Yugoslavia to send out critical weather intelligence data

          SOWTs operated for several years exclusively in Laos during the Vietnam War, mostly in civilian clothes with US Embassy ID, OPERATING AS FACS for the RLAF, working all the Alternate sites and training ethnic Chinese mercenaries how to take weather observations – That was no “experiment”

          SOWTs supported US Army Special Forces throughout the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, taking part in virtually ALL US Military actions worldwide, and were among the first boots on the ground in Afghanistan following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, and had multiple members who took part in combat jumps into both A’stan and Iraq.

          In addition, Weather support to conventional US Army Airborne units – Including during combat operations – has for decades been performed by conventional weather personnel who have completed specialized training to serve in that role.

          Unique training standards for all these personnel were specified in the Master JQS for their duty positions, and were far more detailed than those of conventional weather personnel. The split of personnel into AFSOC and ACC support back in the late 1990s started them down the path to more specialized training for SOWTs and eventually led to the reorganization of SOWT and establishment of the separate AFSC that formally included the incredible Special Tactics training pipeline – Something that many SOWTs had wanted for YEARS

          The US Army, sister service and Joint organizations these conventional weather paratroopers and SOWTs worked for know full well the value of their contributions, unlike the writer of the inaccurate info above, who seems content with trivializations.

          Were there problems within the specialty over the years? Hell, yes – Mostly brought about by a conventional chain of command that did not include airborne qualified personnel, SOF personnel, or even aggressive personnel. Still, through all that – The SOWTs and conventional weather paratroopers continued to perform and prove their worth. That performance and proof of their value is certainly a major part of why the powers that be in Special Warfare have entrusted them with such an important mission, as they move forward to develop Special Reconnaissance as both a capability and a career field.

          The move to Special Reconnaissance is a great one, that expands the former mission into a more robust and valuable one that should have existed all along, and is seen as a very welcome change to those of us who did the job in the past.


          P.S. Research on the internet is easy to do, and most of what I mentioned above can be found within mere minutes, if not seconds.

          • SSD says:

            Ladies and Gentleman, may I present my old friend, “High Speed” Jonny Reed.

  4. Strike-Hold says:

    The Air Force does seem to have a rather bewildering array of beret colors… See: https://soldiersystems.net/2014/12/01/decoding-air-force-berets/

    So rationalizing them to a new standard color doesn’t seem like such a bad idea to me; however, units on jump status should still wear maroon, and I don’t understand why TACP should not also transition to the Gunmetal Grey (since Black is now so much associated with the regular Army).

    As for the Army – the Black Beret should become limited to use by mechanized / armored units only; Brown should become the standard for Infantry, Combat Engineers and Artillery; MPs should use the same Blue as AF Security Forces; and Aviation units should get a Blue-Grey color beret.

  5. Kaiser says:

    Needs more daggers.

  6. Mike292 says:

    I wouldn’t say I notice anything odd however it is kinda MARSOCish. Could be my eyes though, they’re old.

  7. G3SM says:

    Doesn’t look like any angel holding that globe that I’ve ever seen before.

  8. Former_SOWT says:

    The AF continues to be stupid in my opinion, and it makes me wonder who in charge is suffering from “Hero Envy”? So they changed the name from Special Operations to Special Warfare, which sounds like the Navy. I’ve seen pictures of funerals now where guys are pounding their beret crests into the casket ala Navy SEALs, which make sme think too many movies for some. Now they’re adding SCUBA qual to the new SR career field, also extraordinarily stupid. HALO/HAHO, great! SCUBA not so much. You’re going to lose otherwise well qualified people because they can’t pass that course. We’ve seen it in CCT for years. How often has that even been employed? Almost never. I know of two times. So many other things I could say. It’s asinine and a waste!

  9. Thomas E. Matzke Jr. says:

    Actually this article is behind the times
    1Z1 Pararescue
    1Z2 Combat Control
    1Z3 TACP
    1Z4 Special Recon

    19Z…will be encompass STO, CRO, and TACPO…ALO is not a thing anymore.