DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. —
The 68th Rescue Squadron hosted a CRO (Combat Rescue Officer) Check Course at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base October 15-20, 2023.
The CRO screening program, known as ‘CRO Phase II’, is part of a multi-phase training process that screens cadets who wish to become CROs for the US Air Force.
“We select the traits that will make successful leaders in Air Force rescue missions,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Timothy Smith, Executive Lead for CRO Phase II. “We have a pre-selection to try to select people who have the attributes and can meet rigorous standards.”
After the applications were accepted, the cadets started CRO training. The application process was open to airmen and civilians who met specific criteria, which included a completed bachelor’s degree.
“Becoming a combat rescue officer is open to anyone with a college degree,” Smith said. “We are not interested in the past (work history). We are not interested in your Air Force specialty code. We don’t care if you are already in the army or a civilian.”
Phase II CRO was a six-day evaluation that tested a candidate’s desired traits including: physical fitness, mental strength and leadership.
“We put the candidates through rigorous physical training throughout the week,” Smith said. “We also look for mental strength and the ability to remain calm in pressure situations.”
Candidates’ leadership skills are tested during leadership reaction courses. Through these events, staff evaluated their problem-solving abilities, moral courage, and ability to make difficult decisions.
“We have ethical dilemmas where they explain their thought process for difficult, ethical problems,” Smith said. “We have interviews to find out their balance, how well behaved they are and how well they can answer difficult questions.”
At the end of Phase II, performance data is used to determine which cadets are eligible to continue the training process without a certain number of cadets having to be selected or rejected.
“I think it’s important that we’re not tied to setting quotas,” Smith said. “What we care about is performance and likelihood of success in combat situations, and we’re focused on selecting candidates with the attributes that lead us to that goal.”
Cadets who completed the CRO Phase II training program worked toward a commission in the U.S. Air Force and began turning in two to three years of training. Qualified participants were to continue training at the Special Warfare Training Wing at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.