Ask Stew: How Air Force Special Warfare Recruits Tactical Athletes

A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter hoists a tactical air control party airman during a training exercise in New Jersey on Nov. 18, 2016. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Matt Hecht)
A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter hoists a tactical air control party airman during a training exercise in New Jersey on Nov. 18, 2016. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Matt Hecht)

Air Force Special Warfare builds some of the toughest warriors on the planet through technologically advanced processes, aggressive recruiting, and world-class trainers and facilities. Yet, finding top-notch athletes who can succeed in Air Force Special Warfare is no simple task.

Air Force Special Warfare has launched a recruiting fitness challenge on the GMTM athlete exposure platform. The Air Force Special Warfare Workout Challenge allows Air Force recruiters to engage with athletes from various sports who may be considering jobs in special operations once their playing days are over.

Here is an email from a young athlete who is looking for his next adventure after an NCAA Division I athletic career.

Stew, I am a longtime follower and reader. As of a few months ago, I am now a former [Division I] lacrosse player and thinking of joining the military this next year. I am leaning toward Navy or Air Force Special Warfare, but I am working on my swimming and general water skills before I talk to a recruiter. Any recommendations on programming or programs that might be an option for meeting like-minded people? Thanks - Tank

This is a great question. Many virtual and in-person training programs are available, as are official military-sponsored programs.

GMTM ("Gametime") is a virtual athlete exposure and engagement platform. allows organizations to discover and connect with athletes and most recently has partnered with Air Force Special Warfare to help AFSW recruiters connect with potential prospects across the country.

This website is incredible for regular athletes as well as military tactical athletes and recruits. Check out the Operator Test Challenge on the GMTM portal:

  • Ruck three miles
  • Shuttle run: 5-10-5 (pro agility)
  • Deadlift: three reps at max weight
  • Pull-ups max
  • Sprint 100 yards with two three-kilogram kettlebells
  • Run 1.5 miles

The Special Warfare Operator Fitness Test is given during Special Warfare Prep training and is used as a measurement tool for establishing a baseline of fitness performance. If you are considering this profession, you should be doing activities such as these in preparation for some of the toughest, most competitive selection processes and training you can endure.

The operator test and the AFSW Physical Ability and Stamina Test (PAST) are designed around the four career paths of Special Warfare: special reconnaissance, tactical air control party (TACP), combat control (CCT) and pararescue (PJ).

As you will see, there is significant swimming involved in whatever route you take, so learn the different requirements between Navy and Air Force testing as well as swim, water confidence and dive training.

GMTM allows you to share your scores and interact with others on the portal to get ideas for training and group workouts.

Soon, the Air Force Special Warfare PAST test will be available as a competitive event on the platform. You can receive real-time feedback from recruiters and AFSW mentors if you want to communicate with the personnel who hold the keys to the community you seek.

Podcast with GMTM Co-Founder Connor Dietz (Air Force Officer) About AFSW and GMTM link

Related Air Force Special Warfare articles:

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. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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