Air Force Special Operations Command

Air Force Special Operations Command

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= Air Force Special Operations Command

caption= Air Force Special Operations Command emblem
dates= May 22, 1990
country= United States
branch= United States Air Force
type= Special Operations
command_structure= United States Special Operations Command
garrison= Hurlburt Field, Florida
nickname= AFSOC
commander1=Lieutenant General Donald C. Wurster

Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) was established 22 May, 1990, with headquarters at Hurlburt Field, Florida. AFSOC is a United States Air Force (USAF) major command and is the Air Force component (AFSOF) to the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), a unified command located at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

The commander of AFSOC is Lieutenant General Donald C. Wurster. Major General Kurt A. Cichowski is Vice Commander, and Chief Master Sergeant Michael P. Gilbert is the Command Chief Master Sergeant, Air Force Special Operations Command.AFSOC provides AF Special Operations Forces (SOF) for worldwide deployment and assignment to regional unified commands.

The command's SOF are composed of highly trained, rapidly deployable Airmen who are equipped with specialized aircraft. These forces conduct global special operations missions ranging from precision application of firepower, to infiltration, aviation foreign internal defense, exfiltration, resupply and refueling of SOF operational elements.The command's special tactics squadrons combine combat controllers, special operations weathermen, pararescuemen, and combat rescue officers to form versatile SOF teams. AFSOC's unique capabilities include airborne radio and television broadcast for psychological operations, as well as combat aviation advisors to provide other governments military expertise for their internal development.


On May 22, 1990, General Larry D. Welch, Air Force Chief of Staff, redesignated 23rd Air Force as Air Force Special Operations Command. This new major command consisted of three wings: the 1st, 39th and 353rd Special Operations Wings as well as the 1720th Special Tactics Group (STG), the U.S. Air Force Special Operations School, and the Special Missions Operational Test and Evaluation Center.

Currently, after major redesignations and reorganizations, AFSOC direct reporting units include the 16th SOW, the 352rd Special Operations Group, the 353rd Special Operations Group, the 720th Special Tactics Group (STG), the USAF Special Operations School and the 18th Flight Test Squadron (FLTS). During the early 1990's a major reorganization occurred within AFSOC. The 1720th STG became the 720th STG in March 1992; the transfer of ownership of Hurlburt Field from Air Mobility Command (AMC, and formerly MAC) to AFSOC in October 1992, followed by the merger of the 834th Air Base Wing (ABW) into the 1st SOW which assumed host unit responsibilities. A year later the 1st SOW became the 16th SOW in a move to preserve Air Force heritage.

Meanwhile, the Special Missions Operational Test and Evaluation Center (SMOTEC), which filled the unique role of exploring new heavy lift frontiers in special operations capabilities, while pursuing better equipment and tactics development, was also reorganized. In April 1994, the Air Force, in an effort to standardize these types of organizations, redesignated SMOTEC as the 18th Flight Test Squadron.

Gulf War

From early August 1990 to late February 1991, AFSOC participated in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, the protection of Saudi Arabia and liberation of Kuwait. Special tactics personnel operated throughout the theater on multiple combat control and combat rescue missions.Special operations forces performed direct action missions, combat search and rescue, infiltration, exfiltration, air base ground defense, air interdiction, special reconnaissance, close air support, psychological operations, and helicopter air refuelings. Pave Low crews led the helicopter assault on radars to blind Iraq at the onset of hostilities, and they also accomplished the deepest rescue for which they received the Mackay Trophy.

Combat Talons dropped the largest conventional bombs of the war and, along with Combat Shadows, dropped the most psy-war leaflets. The AC-130s provided valuable fire support and armed reconnaissance, but they also suffered the single greatest combat loss of coalition air forces with the shooting down of Spirit 03. All fourteen crew members aboard were lost.

Post-Gulf War

In December 1992, AFSOC special tactics and intelligence personnel supported Operation Restore Hope in Somalia. In late 1994, AFSOC units spearheaded Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti, and in 1995 Operation Delibrate Force in the Balkans.

Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)

The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, and the Pentagon, Washington D.C., on September 11, 2001 pushed the United States special operations forces to the forefront of the war against terrorism. By the end of September 2001, AFSOC deployed forces to southwest Asia for Operation Enduring Freedom to help destroy the al Qaeda terrorist organization and remove the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. AFSOC airpower delivered special tactics forces to the battle ground and they in turn focused U.S. airpower and allowed Afghanistan's Northern Alliance ground forces to dispatch the Taliban and al Qaeda from Afghanistan. AFSOC personnel also deployed to the Philippines to help aid that country's efforts against terrorism.

Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)

In March 2003, AFSOC again deployed forces to southwest Asia this time in support of what would become Operation Iraqi Freedom- the removal of Saddam Hussein and his Baathist regime. The command's personnel and aircraft teamed with SOF and conventional forces to quickly bring down Saddam Hussein's government by May 2003. AFSOC forces have continued to conduct operations since then, in support of the new Iraqi government against insurgents and terrorists.


* Twenty-Third Air Force (AFSOF), Hurlburt Field, Florida
* 1st Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt Field, Florida
* 27th Special Operations Wing, Cannon AFB, New Mexico
* 352d Special Operations Group
* 353d Special Operations Group
* 623rd Air and Space Operations Center, Hurlburt Field, Florida
* 720th Special Tactics Group, Hurlburt Field, Florida
* USAF Special Operations School
* 18th Flight Test Squadron

Air National Guard units

* 193d Special Operations Wing, Pennsylvania Air National Guard
* 123d Special Tactics Squadron, Kentucky Air National Guard
* 125th Special Tactics Squadron, Oregon Air National Guard
* 209th Civil Engineer Squadron, Mississippi
* 280th Combat Communications Squadron, Alabama
* 107th Weather Flight
* 146th Weather Flight
* 181st Weather Flight

Air Force Reserve units

* 919th Special Operations Wing

Personnel and Resources

AFSOC has approximately 12,900 active-duty, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard and civilian personnel. The command's active duty and reserve component flying units operate fixed-wing, rotary-wing, unmanned, and tiltrotor aircraft, including the CV-22, AC-130H/U, C-130, EC-130, MC-130E/H/P/W, MH-53J/M, UH-1N/H, CN-235-100, An-26, U-28A, CASA 212,MQ-1A/B Predator, and Mi-17. [ [ USAF Special Operations Command] Official Site.]


ee also

*United States Special Operations Command
*Combat Control Team
*CV-22 Osprey
* Air Resupply And Communications Service


External links

* [ Air Force Special Operations Command Home Page] - Official AFSOC Public Site
* [ Air Force Link] - Official Web Site of the United States Air Force

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