Today marks the founding date for Air Force Special Operations Command, (AFSOC) which was stood up as a major command of the Air Force, and a subordinate to Special Operations Command (SOCOM), on May 22nd, 1990.
AFSOC capabilities include a variety of different communities. Combat Controllers, who are highly skilled operators that offer air traffic control, fire support, and other communications needed in the difficult environments often seen in special operations. Pararescue Jumpers (PJS) offer a rapid search and rescue/medical capability, able to recover personnel in the most extreme circumstances. Special Operations Weather Technicians can gather environmental data and intelligence crucial to maintaining air operations.
In addition to these ground elements, AFSOC flys a variety of special operations aircraft with unique capabilities. The legendary AC-130 gunship series remains in service, with the AC-130U Spooky II and AC-130W Stinger II the newest variants to enter active use. The tilt-rotor CV-22B Osprey provide a unique platform for inserting special operations troops in places inaccessible to traditional helicopters or fixed-wing transports. And the newest version of the Pave Hawk combat rescue helicopter, the HH-60W, is set to eneter service in the next few years.
While not the most well known special operations community, AFSOC's role in getting troops to the battlefield and their vital capability to direct the overmatch firepower of the Air Force is undeniable.
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