Air Force's Special Team Readies for War

The Army has its Special Forces, the Navy its SEALs. They're the elite, highly-trained troops who carry out some of the most dangerous and secret missions of war.

But what about the Air Force?

The Air Force's Special Tactics squad flies so far below the military's regular radar, some in its own service don't even know it exists.

"Not a whole lot of people know about us and in a way it's kind of nice because it enables us to do things that people aren't really aware of," said Tech Sgt. Calvin Markham, a special tactics operator.

Military law allows only men into this stealthy group of front-line combat fighters, who are sworn to do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission. There are only about 800 operators and support staff in the elite group worldwide.

The men train bruised and battered, but they are ready for just about any military event.

At the year-old advanced skills training school at Florida's Hurl-Burt Field, trainees jump out of airplanes, during the day and night, onto land and into water — and always at the enemy's front door.

"This isn't an easy career field, it's not for everybody," said a first lieutenant who wanted to be identified as "Jake."

When America's war on terror began, special tactics operators that trained first as air traffic controllers called in daisy cutter bombs on the bad guys. They also extracted good guys from danger hot spots.

"It's hard to really anticipate what the future is going to hold," said Lt. Col. William Sherman, director of operations for the 720th Special Tactics Group. "That's why you need people that are trained to the utmost to be able to adapt to those changes."

Less than 1 percent of all recruits actually make it through special tactics training. So far, only two classes have completed this course and when the next group graduates, they will be combat-ready, and could be headed to straight to America's war on terror.