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Special Tactics partners with conventional forces and allies in USAFE-led Operation Rapid Forge

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Rachel Yates
  • 24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Special Tactics teams are engaged, postured and ready with credible force to assure, deter and defend in an increasingly complex security environment.

Over 400 Airmen, including two Special Tactics troops from different units, joined forces with partner nations for Operation Rapid Forge, from July 8 to July 26, across the European theater.

Operation Rapid Forge is a United States Air Forces in Europe-led mission to enhance readiness and tests the ability to function at locations other than main air bases. The mission is intended to enhance interoperability with NATO allies to improve combined capabilities.

For Air Force Special Tactics, Rapid Forge was a way to test readiness and demonstrate the capabilities and interoperability of Air Force Special Operations Command and conventional forces. The operation provided an opportunity to rehearse forward arming and refueling point (FARP) operations, being able to rapidly refuel an aircraft, showcasing the Air Force’s ability to generate additional sorties from an austere location. With F-15E Strike Eagles and F-35A Lightning II weapons systems, Special Tactics worked with old partners and the newest operational 5th-generation fighters, providing unmatched lethality, survivability, and adaptability to the warfighter.

As the sole special operations ground force component operating within the exercise, the Special Tactics troops provided command and control of Special Operations ground forces, assault zone, and close air support operations at dislocated ranges, said a Special Tactics Officer and troop commander with the 321st Special Tactics Squadron, RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom.

The 26th Special Tactics Squadron from Cannon Air Force Base, N. M., joined the 321st STS for Rapid Forge, showcasing the proactive and scalable nature Dynamic Force Employment brings to the battlefield.

“We were able to sync all of our assets and all of our ground parties across the theater, and get on a common operating picture, which allowed us to disseminate information fast and accurately,” the STO said.  

“The Dynamic Force Employment – how we employ our forces in a very agile, flexible way increases our lethality as we can respond quickly and unpredictably to any threat or crises to ensure our mission is met,” said another Special Tactics officer and troop commander with the 26th STS, Cannon AFB, N.M.

Special Tactics leads global access, precision strike, personnel recovery and battlefield surgery operations.  This was evident in the operation as the two troops integrated to operate austere airfields, lead close air support operations and fires integration – essentially being a one-stop shop, said the STO.

Participation in multinational exercises and operations enhances relationships and improves coordination with allies and partner militaries to prepare for times of crises.  Routinely conducting these operations maintains joint capability and highlights continuing contributions to develop and improve air readiness.

“Rapid Forge gave us the opportunity to come in and work with some of our partner nations on the ground—strengthening our relationships with NATO allies and preparing for tomorrow’s fight,” said the STO.