In Special Warfare Milestone, Female Enlisted Airman to Enter Combat Controller Training

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A Combat Control School student radios to a simulated aircraft.
A Combat Control School student radios to a simulated aircraft during a tactics field training exercise at Camp Mackall, N.C., Aug. 3, 2016. (U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Ryan Conroy)

The first female enlisted airman soon will enter training to become a combat controller, a milestone for the Air Force's efforts to add women to its elite special warfare ranks.

In an email Thursday, Air Education and Training Command spokeswoman Marilyn Holliday said that the unidentified airman is one of two enlisted women now in the special warfare training pipeline. This airman recently completed the assessment and selection course, Holliday said, and will soon begin formal combat controller training.

The second enlisted airman will start the assessment and selection course in May, Holliday added.

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Air Force Times was first to report that the female airman will enter combat controller training.

This is the furthest an enlisted woman has ever made it in the process to become a combat controller, Holliday said.

She explained that this airman -- like all those seeking to enter a special warfare career field -- will face the same standards used to evaluate male candidates.

Last summer, a female enlisted trainee began the Tactical Air Control Party Apprentice Course. AETC said in December; at that time, she was still in the program.

However, AETC said Thursday that the trainee has since left the program and reclassified into another Air Force specialty.

The first female airman to enter the combat controller training pipeline did so in October 2019, though she ultimately did not make it to the formal training stage.

Combat controllers are highly trained airmen who often deploy with units into combat. They can call in airstrikes, conduct air traffic control; command and control; and other operations under fire, as well as establish assault zones or airfields. They are also certified FAA air traffic controllers.

-- Stephen Losey can be reached at stephen.losey@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StephenLosey.

Related: Two Women Are Currently Attempting Special Warfare Training, Air Force Says

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