5 of the biggest changes to come to the U.S. military

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United States Aviation plans to double the number of combat aviation advisers it sends to train partners special operations missions at a time when the Department of Defense footprint in austere environments is under scrutiny.

Under the leadership of National Defense Strategy, the Air Force Special Operations Command is preparing to expand each of its teams, developing a planned total of 352 force integration advisers over the next few years, said officials. responsible. The CAA mission, under Special Operations Command, currently has about half of them.


“It’s really a second line of effort for [Defense] secretary [Jim] Mattis, ”said Lt. Col. Steve Hreczkosij, deputy director of Air Advisor operations at AFSOC.

Military.com spoke with combat aviation advisers during a trip to the base in May 2018, accompanying Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson.

“This is AFSOC’s foreign internal defense force,” Hreczkosij said, referring to the US mission to provide support to other governments battling internal threats such as terrorists, lawlessness or civilians. drug-related activities.

The goal is to keep five consulting sites open year round globally by fiscal 2023, Hreczkosij said.

“It could mean five countries, it could mean five main lines of effort… but that’s our resource strategy goal to influence five places,” he said.

An elite unit

The expansion comes at a time when the US military is operating in smaller teams in remote parts of the world such as Africa and Southeast Asia. But this decision does not necessarily indicate work plans in other countries and the idea is not to make the force permanent.

Yet officials know it takes time to train partners and allies, such as the Afghan National Security Forces, which use A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft as well as Pilatus PC-12NG aircraft converted into intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms.

Four A-29 Super Tucanos arrive at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan, Jan. 15, 2016.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Sgt. Nathan Lipscomb)

While the Air Combat Command and Air Mobility Command work with partner nations alike, Combat Aviation Advisors are the U.S. military’s most advanced team to train foreign partners facing challenges. difficult scenarios, said Lt. Col. Cheree Kochen, assigned to irregular warfare plans. division at the Air Force Special Operations Warfare Center.

This is why their mission is different from the basic Afghan training and Lebanese pilots learn how to fly the A-29 Super Tucano at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, Kochen said.

“This is advanced flight – flying with night vision goggles, parachuting, infiltration and exfiltration,” as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, she said.

“We are allowed to board the planes of partner countries and fly on their missions,” Hreczkosij said. “We integrate, we integrate. We live in their squadron building. Our approach is a sustainable and integrated approach to ensure that they truly integrate this technique, mission or equipment into the way they do business.

The air commando unit also sets the agenda for how host nation troops should learn and equip based on U.S. and host nation objectives.

“We also provide assistance to the security forces, which is kind of the catch-all for mil-to-mil partnerships,” Hreczkosij said. “We provide that last tactical mile.”

The support relates to “SOF mobility, ISR advice and armed reconnaissance. We are certainly not dropping bombs, ”he said, adding:“ this is not an attack mission. It’s more of a “target of opportunity” then you can see it. “

Why not entrepreneurs?

Not all partnerships are the same. NATO special operations forces and those in more austere environments vary in training, skill level and mission, officials said.

The countries with which the CAA troops deal regularly are Afghanistan, Cameroon, Uganda, Kenya, Mauritania, Mali, Tunisia, Chad and the Philippines.

“We don’t care what type of aircraft our partners fly,” Hreczkosij said.

The unit is however looking to acquire more C-208s, dubbed AC-208 when equipped with Hellfire Missiles, here in Hurlburt to train on and / or fly as a trainer plane to countries eager to build their own strength.

5 of the biggest changes to come to the U.S. military
AGM-114N Hellfire Missile

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Weston A. Mohr)

The unit routinely uses ISR PC-6, C-208 and PC-12NG aircraft; C-145 / M-28, BT-67 and C-308 mobility aircraft; and the armed reconnaissance aircraft AT-802, AC-235 and AC-208.

Kochen said an upcoming project includes operations in Nepal, in which advisers bring in C-145 Skytrucks withdrawn from nearby Duke Field in Florida and provide maintenance training to members before flight operations begin.

It is not uncommon for contractors to play a role in basic pilot training for host nation troops in the United States or overseas, she said.

But the use of subcontractors lacks “the integrated part. This is why we are trying to partner with a ground SOF unit so that we can link the two together. Entrepreneurs don’t necessarily have these relationships with the SOF soil that we do, ”Kochen said.

Hreczkosij agreed. “Entrepreneurs are not in the current struggle, so they are not getting the current [tactics, techniques, and procedures] with other forces on the ground, and they do not always have the confidence of the partner nation, ”he said. “If I’m sitting across from, say, an aviator in sub-Saharan Africa… and we both wear a uniform, we have a common understanding.”

Without naming the region, Kochen spoke of a case in which entrepreneurs were overly optimistic about their training, sometimes anticipating that foreign interns could learn more quickly on a plane than they actually could. This has led to a few crashes in recent years because “the country was doing tactics which were a bit dangerous for them for their skill level,” she said.

Hreczkosij added: “There is a place for entrepreneurs. It’s just not in this place.

Standing alone

AFSOC’s 6th Special Operations Squadron, along with the 711th Reserve Special Operations Squadron at Duke Field, is the Air Force’s only combat aviation advisor mission.

There are 16 Air Force specialty codes within the mission, including Instructors, Pilots, Maintainers, and Tactical Air Control Group Airmen, among others. Team members can speak over a dozen different languages.

While the work dates back to World War II, the true genesis of the unit dates back to Vietnam, Hreczkosij said, when the 4,400th Combat Crew Training Squadron was sent to Southeast Asia to train the forces. Vietnamese and Cambodian aircraft to take advantage of older aircraft in counterinsurgency and military assistance during the war.

5 of the biggest changes to come to the U.S. military
B-26B over Vietnam.

It was not until the 1990s that the Air Force again began to use air commandos as a foreign internal defense force for operations around the world.

Both Hreczkosij and Kochen were part of the 6th SOS before moving to the Air Force Special Operations Warfare Center headquarters and have been on the mission for over a decade.

Kochen said CAAs want to work with as many countries as possible, but are giving up the job due to demand.

“We have a long list and we can only do a third of what we are asked to do,” she said.

The Housedeployment The rate, however, is on par with the Air Force’s current deployment schedule, Hreczkosij said, adding that the units are not overloaded at the moment.

Kochen reiterated that their work doesn’t go far before the foreign partner has to step in and take over. “There’s no point in sending guys” to a country they’ve been working with for a while, like Afghanistan, because “our guys would just get in their way,” he said. she said, referring to the formation of the Afghan Special Mission. on ISR PC-12NG operations.

“Thirty months later here they make 15 sorties per day and night, providing combat effect to the largest organic Afghan air force,” Hreczkosij said of the Afghan ISR unit.

“They are able to write their guys checks without us being around,” Kochen said. “We give them an ability that we can just leave and hope they can just wage their own wars.

“That’s the point. That we don’t have to send American forces there. The goal is to put in place a unit capable of supporting and continuing to accomplish the same mission, ”she said.

This article was originally published on Military.com. Follow @ Military.com on Twitter.



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