6TH SPECIAL OPERATIONS SQUADRON
The 6th Special Operations Squadron (6th SOS) is a combat aviation advisory squadron that is unit equipped with C-145A aircraft. Its primary mission is to assess, train, advise and assist foreign aviation forces in airpower employment, sustainment and force integration. Squadron advisors help friendly and allied forces employ and sustain their own airpower resources and, when necessary, integrate those resources into joint and combined (multi-national) operations. The squadron was reactivated in 1994 to serve the combatant commanders' advisory needs throughout the range of military operations--from small military-to-military contact events and contingency operations to major regional conflict.
In addition to performing combat aviation advisory functions, the 6th SOS utilizes the C-145A to accomplish global special operations taskings as an Air Force component member of United States Special Operations Command. Crews execute missions in support of joint special operations forces while directly supporting theater special operations commanders by conducting night vision infiltration, exfiltration, resupply and other combat taskings on unimproved runways.
Squadron advisors possess specialized capabilities for foreign internal defense (helping friends and allies apply airpower while countering the internal threats of subversion, lawlessness and insurgency), unconventional warfare (providing battlefield flexibility through non-standard air platforms supporting special operations surface forces) and coalition support (integrating foreign airpower into the theater-campaign, promoting safety and interoperability, facilitating airspace deconfliction, and upgrading host-nation aviation capabilities).
A principal mission objective in all operating arenas is facilitating the availability, reliability, safety and interoperability of participating foreign aviation resources supporting joint and combined operations. Mission execution is approached primarily through hands-on, adaptive training and advisory support geared to practical airpower applications. The squadron can also function in a direct-execution role. These airpower training and advisory capabilities are extremely relevant in current Overseas Contingency Operations, particularly in cases when US forces have to fight as coalition partners or when allied forces have to carry the tactical initiative with US training and advisory assistance.
The squadron executes its mission through theater-oriented, Operational Aviation Detachments "A" and "B" (OAD-A/OAD-B). The OAD-A functions as the tactical training/advisory team. The OAD-B provides command, control, and communications (C3), logistics, administrative and medical support to multiple OAD-A teams deployed in the field. Deploying teams are tailored in both size and capability to meet specific mission requirements.
Personnel assigned to the 6th SOS are all required to complete a demanding training and education curriculum intended to produce foreign language proficient, regionally-oriented, politically astute, and culturally aware aviation advisory experts. The curriculum provides extensive indoctrination in advanced field-craft skills (including force protection and personal survival), instructional skills, risk management, and safety. Squadron advisors speak a variety of languages, including Russian, Polish, German, Korean, Arabic, Spanish, French, Dari, Urdu and Thai.
Squadron training and advisory capabilities in the employment arena include airpower applications, tactical employment and mission planning. Tactical flying activities include close air support, ISR, and airlift/aerial delivery (infiltration, exfiltration, resupply, and air drop).
Squadron advisory teams also assist theater combatant commanders and subordinate commands in operational-level planning and joint, combined force integration in fixed wing operations. Assistance to the theater combatant commands includes assessments of foreign aviation capabilities, liaison with foreign aviation forces and assistance in theater air campaign planning for combined operations. The squadron also performs safety and interoperability assessments of foreign aviation capabilities prior to initiating joint, combined operations and exercises. Once the foreign aviation unit has achieved satisfactory levels of proficiency and safety, the 6th SOS, in its coalition support role, can serve as a force multiplier by fielding advisory teams to draw foreign units into joint and combined operations.
The 6th SOS was originally constituted as the 6th Fighter Squadron (Commando) on Sept. 22, 1944 as part of the 1st Air Commando Group. The squadron flew the P-47D Thunderbolt and operated out of Asansol, Fenny and Cox's Bazaar, India. In May 1945, the unit converted to the P-51 Mustang and returned home for deactivation in November 1945.
The unit was reconstituted at Hurlburt Field, Florida, on 27 April 1962, and assigned to the 1st Air Commando Group, flying the B/RB-26, U-10, T-28, and by early 1963, the A-1E (call sign HOBO). The unit's mission was to train in counterinsurgency (COIN) and unconventional warfare, and demonstrate those tactics both within the US and abroad. Squadron personnel served as advisors to Vietnamese Air Force personnel at Bien Hoa. During the same period, at Howard Air Force Base, Panama, they trained Central and South American airmen in COIN tactics, techniques, and procedures.
All aircraft were reassigned in July 1963, except the T-28, and many personnel were transferred to form the cadres for new special operations units. By March 1964, the squadron increased manning sufficiently to deploy to Udorn Air Base, Thailand, to train air and ground crews in COIN operations.
The unit moved with the 1st Air Commando Wing to England Air Force Base, Louisiana, in January 1966, and continued the same type of operations as previously performed at Hurlburt Field (to include the return of the A-1E aircraft). By December 1967, the last of the T-28s were transferred, and the unit started receiving A-1G, H, and J aircraft.
The unit deployed to Pleiku Air Base, Vietnam, in February 1968, and was reassigned to the 14th Air Commando Wing. The unit was reassigned to the 633d Special Operations Wing on July 15, 1968, and redesignated the 6th Special Operations Squadron. The unit flew combat missions, including air support for ground forces, air cover for transports, day and night interdiction, combat search and rescue support, armed reconnaissance, and forward air control. The unit was deactivated on Nov. 15, 1969.
The unit was reactivated again on Jan. 6, 1970 at England Air Force Base, Louisiana, with the mission of replacement training of US Air Force pilots in A-37B aircraft. The unit was redesignated as the 6th Special Operations Training Squadron on Aug. 31 1972. The unit was assigned to the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida, on July 31, 1973 and reassigned to the 23d Tactical Fighter Wing on Jan. 1, 1974. The squadron was deactivated Sept. 15, 1974.
The Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, which created the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), identified foreign internal defense (FID) as one of the principal activities of special operations forces. Subsequently, in 1990, the Commander, USSOCOM validated and strongly supported the establishment of a dedicated Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) aviation-FID organization.
In the spring of 1991, a FID office was created in the Plans, Programs, and Acquisition Management Directorate of Headquarters AFSOC, and an aviation-FID concept of operations study was published. In July 1992, the organization conducted a "proof-of-concept" deployment to Ecuador with the US Army 7th Special Forces Group. The success of the deployment led to a Commander, USSOCOM request for an early unit stand-up. In August 1993, the organization became Detachment 7, Special Operations Combat Operations Staff.
In March 1994, the first major aviation-FID deployment was conducted in Ecuador, and in April 1994, the organization was renamed the 6th Special Operations Flight and realigned under the 16th Operations Group of the 16th Special Operations Wing, and the unit was upgraded to squadron status in October 1994 to reflect its growth in mission and personnel. The squadron received its first two aircraft, UH-1N Hueys, on Oct. 11, 1996, and marked its first flight in 27 years on Dec. 20, 1996. Over the years, members of the 6th SOS have taught foreign militaries in a variety of aircraft to include the Russian Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters, the Spanish CASA 212 transport, the Cessna 208, the Beech King Air 350, the French AS-332 Super Puma, the Canadian DHC-6 Twin Otter, the Basler BT-67, all models of the US Huey helicopter and several USAF C-130 variants.
Squadron personnel are currently operating in Europe, Central Asia, Africa, the Middle East, the Pacific, Central America and South America. During 2009, 2010, and 2011 squadron OADs deployed to Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Jordan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Korea, Thailand, Poland, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Mali, the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Constituted 6th Fighter Squadron, Commando, on 22 Sep 1944. Activated on 30 Sep 1944. Inactivated on 3 Nov 1945. Disbanded on 8 Oct 1948. Reconstituted, and activated, on 18 Apr 1962. Organized on 27 Apr 1962. Redesignated: 6th Air Commando Squadron, Fighter, on 15 Jun 1966; 6th Special Operations Squadron on 15 Jul 1968. Inactivated on 15 Nov 1969. Activated on 8 Jan 1970. Redesignated 6th Special Operations Training Squadron on 31 Aug 1972. Inactivated on 15 Sep 1974. Redesignated 6th Special Operations Flight on 25 Mar 1994. Activated on 1 Apr 1994. Redesignated 6th Special Operations Squadron on 1 Oct 1994.
1st Air Commando Group, 30 Sep 1944-3 Nov 1945 (attached to First Provisional Fighter Group, 7 Feb-c. 8 May 1945; 2d Air Commando Group, 23 May-20 Jun 1945). Tactical Air Command, 18 Apr 1962; 1st Air Commando Group (later, 1st Air Commando Wing), 27 Apr 1962; 14th Air Commando Wing, 29 Feb 1968; 633d Special Operations Wing, 15 Jul 1968-15 Nov 1969. 4410th Combat Crew Training Wing (later, 4410th Special Operations Training Group), 8 Jan 1970; 1st Special Operations Wing, 31 Jul 1973; 23d Tactical Fighter Wing, 1 Jan-15 Sep 1974. 16th Operations Group, 1 Apr 1994-15 November 2006. 1st Special Operations Group, 16 November 2006-.
Asansol, India, 30 Sep 1944 (detachments operated from Cox's Bazar, India, 15-21 Oct 1944, 2-8 Nov 1944; and 11-18 Jan 1945, and from Fenny, India, 1-24 Dec 1944); Hay, India, 7 Feb 1945; Asansol, India, 9 May 1945; Kalaikunda, India, 23 May 1945; Asansol, India, 22 Jun-6 Oct 1945; Camp Kilmer, NJ, 1-3 Nov 1945. Eglin Air Force Auxiliary Airfield No. 9 (Hurlburt Field), FL, 27 Apr 1962; England AFB, LA, 15 Jan 1966-17 Feb 1968; Pleiku AB, South Vietnam, 29 Feb 1968-15 Nov 1969 (detachment operated from Da Nang AB, South Vietnam, 1 Apr 1968-1 Sep 1969); England AFB, LA, 8 Jan 1970-15 Sep 1974; Hurlburt Field, FL, 1 Apr 1994-1 Apr 2013; Duke Field, FL, 1 Apr 2013 -
P-47, 1944-1945; P-51, 1945. B/RB-26 and L-28 (later, U-10), 1962-1963; T-28, 1962-1967; A-1, 1963, 1966; 1967-1969. A-37, 1970-1974; UH-1 H/N, 1996-2012; C-130E, 1996-2012; Mi-8/17, 2002-2012; DHC-6, 2010-2012; C-47, 2002-2008; AN-26, 2003-2007; C-145A 2012-present.
World War II
Vietnam Air Offensive Phase II
Vietnam Air Offensive Phase III
Vietnam Air Offensive Phase IV
Vietnam Summer-Fall 1969
Vietnam Winter-Spring 1970
Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamers
Presidential Unit Citation
1 Jun-15 Nov 69
Gallant Unit Citation
6 Oct 01-30 May 03
Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with the Combat "V" Device
1 Feb-20 Jun 68
15 Jul 68-31 May 69
1 Jun 97-31 May 99
1 Jul 03-30 Jun 05
1 Sep 06 - 30 Jun 07
Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards
Jul 63-Jun 65
15 Sep 70-31 Dec 71
1 Jun 95-31 May 97
1 Jul 99-30 Jun 01
1 Jul 01-30 Jun 03
1 Sep 04-31 Aug 06
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
1 Jan 68-15 Nov 69
Blue represents the sky, the primary theater of Air Force operations. Yellow signifies the sun and the excellence required of Air Force personnel. The disc bearing an annulet alludes to a globe and reflects the unit's round-the-clock, worldwide mission capabilities. The six-pointed star denotes the squadron's numerical designation and honors the memory of all previous "commandos." The lightning bolts reflect WW II Campaign credits. The winged dagger symbolizes the special operation mission of the unit and the dedication and skills of unit personnel.