Combat Rescue Officers (CROs) are stationed strategically all across the globe, ready to help whenever needed. Operationally, CROs may operate under Air Force Special Operations Command’s (AFSOC) Special Tactics Squadrons (STS) or under Air Combat Command’s (ACC) Rescue Squadrons (RQS).
STS CRO’s: CROs stationed at an STS will likely deploy in smaller teams, often times with Combat Control counterparts or as individuals assigned to other assets. CROs will often attach to other service’s special operations teams that require medical and/or technical rescue expertise. CROs do not have a large presence on STS teams and are much more likely to spend most, if not all of their career at RQS units.
RQS CRO’s: CROs stationed at an RQS will likely deploy and lead a Guardian Angel (GA) team, assigned with multiple other PJs and SERE specialists. These GA teams are generally assigned to conduct traditional Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) operations. These teams have also conducted Medical & Casualty Evacuation (MEDEVAC/CASEVAC) during OEF & OIF.
ANG/ARC CRO’s: In addition to their federal Title 10 mission, Air National Guard units also perform state missions within their area. While Active Duty and Reserve teams may periodically complete civil (peace time) SAR missions, the Guard teams are known for amassing a lot of experience in this field. Most notably, the Alaska team averages one civil SAR mission per week- rescuing lost hikers, boaters, etc among the myriad of challenges in the state. The California team is most known for their daring overwater missions far out in the Pacific Ocean, rescuing ill mariners when no one else can.
There are Full Time and Part Time CRO positions at Guard and Reserve units. If someone wishes to be a CRO initially at a Reserve or Guard unit, they must join the Air Force in that respective service (ie not active duty) and have already established a relationship with that unit. If an Airman wishes to change from Active Duty to a Reserve or Air National Guard team, they can do so at the end of their enlistment with coordination from that Guard/Reserve team.
ACTIVE DUTY LOCATIONS
Assignment Locations in Rescue Squadrons:
o Moody AFB, (Valdosta) GA (38th Rescue Squadron)
o Nellis AFB (Las Vegas) NV (58th Rescue Squadron)
o Davis-Monthan AFB, (Tucson) AZ (48th Rescue Squadron)
o Aviano Air Base, Italy (57th Rescue Squadron)
o Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, JP (31st Rescue Squadron)
Assignment Locations in Special Tactics Squadrons:
o Cannon AFB, (Clovis) NM (26th Special Tactics Squadron)
o Hurlburt Field, (Ft. Walton Beach) FL (23rd Special Tactics Squadron)
o Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, JP (320th Special Tactics Squadron)
o Mildenhall AB, England (321st Special Tactics Squadron)
o Pope AFB, (Fayetteville) NC (24th Special Tactics Squadron)
Air National Guard Assignment Locations:
o Elmendorf AFB, (Anchorage) AK (212th Rescue Squadron)
o Gabreski Air Field, (Long Island) NY (103rd Rescue Squadron)
o Moffett Field (Santa Clara) CA (131 Rescue Squadron)
o Louisville Intl Airport KY (123rd Special Tactics Squadron)
o Portland Intl Airport OR (125th Special Tactics Squadron)
Air Force Reserve Assignment Locations:
o Portland Intl Airport OR (304th Rescue Squadron)
o Davis-Monthan AFB, (Tucson) AZ (306th Rescue Squadron)
o Patrick AFB, (Cocoa Beach) FL (308th Rescue Squadron)
Non-Deployable Support Units:
o Lackland AFB, (San Antonio) TX (Battlefield Airman Training Group)
o Kirtland AFB, (Albuquerque) NM (351st Battlefield Airman Training Squadron)
o Davis-Monthan AFB, (Tucson) AZ (68 Rescue Squadron Field Training Unit)
o Naval Support Activity Panama City, FL (Air Force Dive School)
o Nellis AFB (Las Vegas), NV (88 Test and Evaluation Squadron)