SOCOM commander visits Hurlburt, praises Air Commandos

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- The Soldier leading special operations troops in the Global War on Terrorism visited Hurlburt Field Tuesday to speak to Joint Special Operations University students and receive briefings on current and future issues in Air Force Special Operations Command.

But Army Gen. Doug Brown, U.S. Special Operations Command commander, didn't depart the base without first offering words of praise to Air Commandos.

"AFSOC is key to the Global War on Terrorism," said General Brown.
The growth of AFSOC outlined in this year's Quadrennial Defense Review was an "acknowledgement of the skills and unique talents these forces bring to the battlefield," said the general.

"In all the components that belong to SOCOM…the one making the most dramatic transformation to make sure they have the skills necessary on the battlefield for the future of the Global War on Terrorism is the Air Force Special Operations Command."

Much of that transition has taken place right here.

"The growth at Hurlburt Field is just phenomenal, as it should be," said the general. "This is a special operations base that's a gem."
As General Brown pointed out, there are not many special operations bases. On most bases, SOF units are tenants. Hurlburt Field, however, is an exception.

"The Air Force does a great, great job supporting AFSOC with these facilities. The growth of Hurlburt has been very, very impressive," he said.
General Brown, who has been at SOCOM's helm just short of three years, spoke of the importance of training partner countries' to defend their own borders - a mission the growing 6th Special Operations Squadron has been doing successfully for years.
"(6th SOS Airmen) have to be specially selected," he said "It's a very exciting but very demanding mission. Quite frankly, we're very, very proud of the work they've done."

The Army's 7th Special Forces Group's move to the Emerald Coast from Fort Bragg, N.C., is critical for special operations forces' team concept, said General Brown.

"We don't have to force jointness; we're born joint. This is just another example of jointness," he said "There's already a great relationship between Air Force Special Operations Command and the 7th Special Forces Group, and it'll even get better down here."

Such relationship was shown on the opening days of Operation Enduring Freedom when combat controllers worked side-by-side with other SOF.

"They were key," said General Brown of the CCTs. "It's a privilege to even have the opportunity to mention that these guys went in with the Special Forces teams on the ground."

The general said morale is high across SOCOM, but he added that "a debt of gratitude" is due to the families making the sacrifice on the home front.

"We can never take the eye off the ball to realize that (families) are contributing," he said. "They are taking care of not only the home front issues but supporting their guys as we continue on a pretty heavy ops tempo."
SOCOM's operations tempo and work in Southwest Asia isn't expected to slow down anytime soon.

"SOF brings to the battlefield the unique type of skills that are necessary to this type of war," he said. "We're going to be engaged for a while."