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JGLO: Bringing "joint" flavor to Hurlburt Field

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Amy Cooper
  • 1st SOW Public Affairs
Calling in an AC-130 for fire support ain't like ordering a pizza - but it delivers.

Army Green Berets, Navy SEALs and Marine Corps Special Operations Forces come to Hurlburt Field to train with these fire-breathing machines.

The 1st Special Operations Support Squadron's Joint Ground Liaison coordinates realistic, unique and specialized training for SOF simulating the combat environment.

The unit, the only one of its kind, conducts 11 classes a year each for Army Special Forces and Navy SEALs. Two more classes were recently added to accommodate the new U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command.

The men making up the JGLO office is a picture-perfect example of "joint." The office consists of four Soldiers, one SEAL and one AC-130 gunner, all of whom are senior NCOs with 20 or more years of service.

"Until Special Operations Forces see the AC-130 in theater, they don't know what it's like to work with the aircraft," said Chief Warrant Officer Todd Sowerby, JGLO detachment commander. "(After the course) even the most junior guys can gain confidence knowing the gunships can escort them and provide accurate ground fire."

Most importantly, the Soldiers, Sailors and Marines get experience working with the AC-130 here and are prepared when they deploy. Most of the units who attend the course will deploy within 60-90 days of completion. For those units, the training is especially valuable.

"When they get into the (sand) box, they're prepared. It's a huge experience for them," said a Special Forces Soldier who completed the training here Feb. 2 and will be deploying soon.

The unit has also begun incorporating special tactics Airmen at Hurlburt Field into the training. Recently, a combat controller trained with a visiting SEAL team.
This type of "cross-pollination" between the different services helps to further the understanding of what each specialty brings to the fight, Chief Sowerby said.

While working with the AC-130 is the bread and butter of the program, the unit takes advantage of all the other training opportunities available here with Air Force Special Operations Command aircraft. Hurlburt's proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and the Eglin Range complex also offers water and marksmanship training opportunities.

"The training is tailored to meet the special teams," said Sergeant Victor Ayala, JGLO NCO-in-charge. "Some teams get more jumps while others get more dives."

Even though the unit already trains more than 600 students a year, it is always looking to expand to train even more people.

"It's hard to tell a unit no, especially when they're going into theater soon," Chief Sowerby said.