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AFSOC Critical Attributes: a renewed perspective

  • Published
  • By Col. London Richard
  • Air Force Special Operations Command Surgeon General's Office
As an Air Commando, you've undoubtedly seen the Air Force Special Operations Command Critical Attributes posters. A few years ago following a series of on- and off-duty incidents, approximately 200 AFSOC personnel identified the qualities that distinguish an AFSOC Airman from those simply considered "average." The analysis identified the features that peers and leaders respect in a leader, warrior, and critical member of the Air Commando team. Those qualities are the foundation of AFSOC's 13 Critical Attributes of Success.

The Critical Attributes are not necessarily unique to success within our major command, nor are they relevant only to our operators. One of the fundamental special operations "truths" is that "most special operations require non-SOF assistance." Thus, the attributes apply to all personnel within AFSOC, both operators and enablers. When we embrace these critical attributes in ourselves - and others - our command is stronger, and our vital missions succeed.

These attributes define the expectations and requirements for individual success within AFSOC according to our most respected and seasoned warriors. They are even more important in our profession - because special operations mission teams are smaller than conventional forces and so much is at stake given the nature of our missions. Our command comprises less than one percent of less than one percent of those able/willing to serve in the United States military. Consequently, our small size increases the significance and responsibility of each person. Every member of the AFSOC team is a critical resource, and the loss (or reduced capability) of even one individual has a greater impact on the team, our effectiveness and the probability of mission success.

The "special" in special operations does not mean our people have more innate value as human beings, nor should they necessarily be accorded any greater respect than other military servicemembers. However, "special" does describe the nature of our unique missions, capability and commitments. The most elite of this "special" group are those who epitomize the 13 Critical Attributes. These individuals are the truly world-class professionals, those called to a higher standard of leadership and performance. Our members cannot be and are not "average." They seek excellence and actively strive to be a significant part of something bigger than themselves - an integral part of a small, extremely skilled and highly-capable cadre of experts who accomplish some of our nation's most difficult tasks - with precision, effectiveness and pride. The posters are only printed images, but they reflect those most special 13 Critical Attributes of Success.

Editor's note: Retired Col. Carroll Green contributed to this article.