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AFSOC commander visits 352nd SOG Air Commandos

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Stacia Zachary
  • 352nd Special Operations Group Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold, commander of the Air Force Special Operations Command, visited the Air Commandos of the 352nd Special Operations Group Oct. 27 and 28, 2014, on RAF Mildenhall, England.

As the new AFSOC commander, Heithold is taking the time to visit all bases which house and conduct special operations. Not new to the mission, the general is all in and ready to help his command continue to achieve excellence.

"We're going to shoot more, fly more, train harder than anyone in the Air Force," Heithold said. "We're going to train - not just train, but highly train - and we're going to be ready all the time."

The 352nd SOG is a powerhouse in the European theater and a vital asset to AFSOC.

"Your span of control is vast now," Heithold said. "You're providing combat capabilities to (U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa Command) and I would argue (U.S. Central Command). You are a respected and sought-after asset."

With Heithold at the helm, the U.S. Special Operations Command's vision succinctly captures its focus: To provide Air Commandos who are highly trained, capable and ready to conduct special operations - anytime, anyplace.

"When people think U.S. Special Operations, they think of our Special Tactics Airmen. They are the best because they train to be the best regularly," Heithold said. "When it comes time to dial up the most trained person, I want to know that person is an Air Commando - and I want everyone else to know they're getting the best."

In order to provide the most specialized and highly-trained Air Commando, training must be focused on the individual.

"Air Commandos are habitually trained -along with all the other components that factor in - so you're getting the very best individual out there," the general said. "We are elite. We are special and that doesn't just apply to the planes we fly. We are defined by our people. It's about you, not the machine."

For the Air Commandos to succeed at being elite there are some key factors which will foster this mindset, first of which is providing top-notch leadership.

"We're going to erase toxic leadership from our command," Heithold stated. "Any variables that create a toxic environment, we will erase it."

With effective leadership at the helm, a renewed emphasis will be placed on the current training regimen.

"Next we're going to transform the way we train," the general said. "What will that training look like? It'll be in a synthetic environment. For Special Tactics, they'll step into a room, close the door and they'll be in war - it'll be that real. We're going to push for all Air Commandos to have this type of training. It prepares our people for what's ahead in a very realistic fashion with results that prove it's second only to first-hand experience."

Another item which the AFSOC commander is actively focusing on is modernizing the force. The African proverb, "go faster alone, go farther together," captures how Heithold wants AFSOC to move forward.

"We're going to make sure we have the right tools do the mission," he said. "But, we're going to do it right, not fast; be decisive in what we do and make sure it's the right decision for us."

The tenure of the current world situation provides the foundation for how AFSOC will proceed in addressing challenges that require the unique capabilities Air Commandos have.

"The global struggle against violent extremism is a struggle we will continue to face for a long time. Special operations will be on the front end of that," Heithold said. "This will mean a big impact with a small footprint. Who does that better than us?"

U.S. service members serve at a time when ever-present and increasing demands are placed upon them. Their generation has been at war longer than any other in U.S. history and their dedication to the profession of arms is something to be honored.

"I want to take a moment to say thank you to the one percent: you. You provide that blanket of freedom for the 99 percent of America. It takes great moral fortitude to step up and accept that burden and I thank you for that commitment."

As Heithold continues to visit AFSOC assets throughout the Air Force, he vows to follow through on his promises for unparalleled training and a modernized force.

"There's a saying, 'You don't care about what I know until you know how much I care,'" Heithold said. "I do deeply care and I am going to prove it to you."