Special Tactics Advanced Skills Training aka AST is unique to assignment to an AFSOC or AFSOC gained (reserve component) Special Tactics Squadron. It is not applicable to Pararescue unless being assigned to an AFSOC or AFSOC gained STS.
AST is in most simplistic explanation a required formal in-residence 5-level and mission qualification upgrade course for Combat Control, Special Operation Weather, and TACP who volunteer for and get an AFSCOC assignment.
The actual required AST blocks of training do differ for each BA AFSC. The most visible difference is MFF qualification course and Combat Diver Qualification Course. Both MFF and CDQC is required for award and retention of Pararescue 3-level, 5-level, 7-level and 9-level AFSC. Combat Control has no MFF and CDQC requirement until award of and retention of 5-level, 7-level, and 9-level AFSC.
Go to Air Force Special Tactics (24 SOW)
and click on the career field badges to gain some insight into AST as it applies to each career field assigned to an AFSOC duty position. Also read the AFECD BA AFSC descriptions and specific AFSC Career Field and Education Training Plan for required task and duty qualifications for award of and retention of skill level for each AFSC, they do differ.
FYI: ST TACPs are assigned to the 17th Special Tactics Squadron at Ft. Benning, Ga., Joint Base Lewis McChord, Tacoma, Wa., Hunter Army Airfield, Savannah, Ga., and all four active duty Special Tactics Squadrons located in the continental United States.
Pararescue attend AST for the AFSOC specific mission qualification training requirements. This differs from the RQS which does the Mission Qualification (AST's Operational Readiness Phase) thru in-unit OJT means with some exceptions.
The Combat Control AST requirement description:
Special Tactics Advanced Skills Training, Hurlburt Field, Fla.- Advanced Skills Training (AST) is a 11-to-12-month program for newly assigned combat controller operators. AST produces mission-ready operators for the Air Force and United States Special Operations Command. The AST schedule is broken down into three phases: formal training, core skills, and operational readiness. The course tests the trainee's personal limits through demanding mental and physical training. Combat controllers also attend the following schools during AST: U.S. Army Military Free Fall Parachutist and U.S. Air Force Combat Divers School.
Due to ops tempo imposing resource constraints (time, manpower, and equipment that preclude desired training from being accomplished) there are new formal in-resident courses being established for Pararescue where the qualification requires the highest level of proficiencies and competency to do.
Examples:68th RQF leads their first Rescue Jumpmaster Course Guardian Angel Combat Leaders Course put into action