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support down to the individual – e.g. C Company, 1/1 SFG with MAJ So-and-so commanding — because of the habitual working relationship they’ve forged with the members of those units. The greatest result of this relationship is trust in each other’s skills and knowledge which encour- ages a greater willingness to go the extra mile for the joint team to succeed. In truth, the joint-minded nature of SOF goes

beyond the DoD, and increasingly includes other agencies within the US government. As Admiral Olson, the USSOCOM Commander, recently stressed, today’s special operators must embody the 3-D Warrior concept – that is, to be proficient not only in defense, but in development and diplo- macy as well. These skills require a solid working knowledge of the “interagency.” For instance, the Haiti earthquake relief operation was officially run by USAID and the hit on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan was officially run by the CIA. It is entirely appropriate for civil- ian agencies to direct operations in their fields of expertise. However, no other organization can provide the rapid, decisive, and – when necessary – lethal elements that SOF delivers at a moment’s notice. It’s therefore critical for special operators to fully understand their dynamic operating envi- ronment and all the players involved. Again, building on experience in the field,

AFSOTC draws Air Commandos back to the classroom to deepen their awareness with inter- mediate-level USAFSOS courses on topics such as regionally tailored theater engagement, air command and control, and insurgent warfare. More than the average Airman, Air Commandos realize the potentially strategic impact of every tactical action. With this depth of operational context, Air Commandos display a savvy flexibil- ity to adjust between defense, development, and diplomacy as the mission dictates. Whether in a high-stakes direct action or the patient, strategic indirect approach, the no-fail attitude and joint interconnections go hand in hand. Clearly, making an Air Commando takes

more than handing someone an AFSOC patch. In fact, training, indoctrination, and education alone are not sufficient to build the proper mind set of success in special ops. It takes months, if not years of building on that foundation with operational experience as part of the joint SOF team, along with cycling back through the training center at the right times to expand one’s spiral of exper- tise. When you wake up feeling the unquenchable desire to take on a new mission, no matter the cost, you’ve become an Air Commando! 

1The SOF Truths:

1. Humans are more important than hardware 2. Quality is better than quantity

3. Special Operations Forces cannot be mass produced 4. Competent Special Operations Forces cannot be created after emergencies occur

5. Most Special Operations require non-SOF assistance 2HQ AFSOC/A1


AFSOC’s 13 Critical Attributes: Integrity, Self-Motivation, Intelli- gence, Self-Discipline, Perseverance, Adaptability, Maturity, Judg- ment, Selflessness, Leadership, Skilled, Physical Fitness, and Fam- ily Strength 4

While these conversations were too numerous to list individually,

I must give particular credit to two PME theses: Lt Col Mike Jack- son, “AFSOF, Integration, and Joint Warfighting: Closing the Training Loop to Force Multiply and Succeed,” Joint Advanced Warfighting School, 4 Apr 2008; and Lt Col Mark “Buck” Haberichter, “How to Make An Air Commando,” Air War College, 16 Feb 2011

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