6th SOS performs unique mission worldwide
By Ms Jamie Haig, 16th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 11, 2006
HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- (This is part one of a four part series on the 6th Special Operations Squadron)
The 6th Special Operations Squadron's mission is to assess, train, advise and assist foreign aviation forces in airpower employment, sustainment and force integration.
That's what the fact sheet says.
"We support the National Security Policy by helping foreign friends and allies to defend their own countries and to function as viable coalition partners," said Jerome Klingaman, 6th SOS director of strategy and plans, "The U.S. can't win the Global War on Terrorism and insurgency alone. It's a global phenomenon - and requires global buy-in and commitment by our allies."
It's the 6th SOS's job to help foreign military organizations to defend themselves.
"It starts with America's strategic interests and how we achieve them by enabling foreign forces," said Mr. Klingaman. "That's why we assess, train, advise and assist. Enabling foreign forces is the key."
The 6th SOS is designed just for that purpose - to solve the enablement problems in airpower. Not just airplane or helicopter issues, but its airpower as a whole. They help the foreign aviation units to perform the mission set efficiently, effectively and safely.
"A nation can't do a sortie if it can't maintain the aircraft, doesn't have logistics or even a base defense," said Mr. Klingaman. "We just don't train them up and be done with them."
The Philippines is one of the 6th SOS's frequent customers.
After Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. transferred several UH-1H helicopters to the Philip-pine air force. The Philippine air force could fly them, but not tactically.
Over several years and numerous trips, the crews from the 6th SOS trained the Filipino crews starting with visual flight rules to night-vision tactical insertion and extraction for combat operations and casualty evacuations.
The 6th SOS trains the trainer.
"We reach the ground truth on foreign nation capabilities," said Mr. Klingaman. "We determine what they can and cannot do."
The squadron accomplishes its mission through operational aviation detachments that cover training, advising, command and control and communications. When the OAD is sent to a location, they split up to do their jobs.
The fliers go to the host nation pilots and review training records, qualifications, standards and evaluations.
Maintainers look over the aircraft's records, depot overhauls, all the forms and paperwork that involve the aircraft. Then they view the aircraft and determine its air worthiness.
When the maintainers give the thumbs-up to the fliers, the assessment with the host nation begins.
The team writes up an assessment report that goes to the U.S. authorities in Air Force Special Operations Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, the theater special operations command and the U.S. embassy. The report may include recommendations to obtain equipment before continuing training.
In order to do this job, the 6th SOS squadron has unique equipment.
Two UH-1N helicopters are assigned to the 6th SOS, and a Russian AN-26 Antonov, MI-8 helicopter and C-47 are on lease to the unit. The 6th SOS also flies C-130 "slicks" that belong to the 16th Special Operations Wing. These aircraft are used for training here and don't deploy with the squadron.
The squadron's goal is to work with foreign aviation forces to facilitate their availability, reliability and safety and increase their potential to interoperate with the U.S. military forces.
"We're not trying to create a mirror image of the U.S. Air Force," said Mr. Klingaman. "We work with them within the context of their financial and technological limitations."
Training is theoretical. Advising is real world situation specific.
At present, there are more than 100 U.S. Air Force officers and Airmen who are in training with the 6th SOS and the USAF Special Operations School, to function as embedded advisors with the Iraqi Air Force.
They will go through a small part of the normal six-month training in one month.
Becoming culturally and politically astute are necessary requirements in order for these Airmen to be able to advise and assist the Iraqi Air Force correctly.
Assess, train, advise and assist. It's what the 6th SOS does everyday.
The 6th Special Operations Squadron is shown with several of the squadron's unique aircraft. The 6th SOS assesses trains, advises and assists foreign nation aviation forces worldwide.