|24th Special Tactics Squadron|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Type||Special Mission Unit|
|Part of|| United States Special Operations Command |
Joint Special Operations Command
Air Force Special Operations Command
24th Special Operations Wing
724th Special Tactics Group
|Garrison/HQ||Pope Field, North Carolina|
|Engagements|| Operation Just Cause |
Somali Civil War
|Decorations|| Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device |
Gallant Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
|24th Special Tactics Squadron emblem (approved 22 June 1990)|
The 24th Special Tactics Squadron is one of the Special Tactics units of the United States Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). It is the U.S. Air Force component to Joint Special Operations Command.It is garrisoned at Pope Field, North Carolina.
The 24th STS provides special operations airmen for the Joint Special Operations Command, including Pararescuemen, Combat Controllers, Special Reconnaissance, and Tactical Air Control Party personnel. They are the Air Force's Tier 1 unit, and 24th STS members are provided as enablers to the Army's 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (a.k.a. Delta Force) and the Navy's Special Warfare Development Group, or DEVGRU (a.k.a. SEAL Team 6) due to their specific skill sets. As such, 24th STS members are also trained in conducting classified and clandestine operations such as direct action, counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency, hostage rescue, and special reconnaissance.
The first predecessor of the squadron was activated at Hamilton Field in October 1941 to be the director unit for the 24th Pursuit Group, which was formed simultaneously at Clark Field, Philippines as the headquarters for pursuit squadrons of the Philippine Department Air Force. After completing training, the squadron sailed on the USAT President Garfield on 6 December 1941. However, due to the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbor and Clark Field, the President Garfield returned to port on 10 December and the squadron returned to Hamilton Field.
Although nominally assigned to the 24th Group from January through October 1942, the squadron served with air defense forces on the Pacific coast until it was disbanded on 31 March 1944 when the Army Air Forces converted its units in the US from a rigid table of organization units to more flexible base units. Accordingly, its personnel and equipment were transferred to the 411th AAF Base Unit (Fighter Wing) at Berkeley, California.
The 24th Special Tactics Squadron participated in the United States invasion of Panama in 1989.The 24th STS deployed 11 personnel including the unit commander, Lt. Col. Jim Oeser, as part of JSOC's Task Force Ranger during Operation Restore Hope in 1993. Due to their actions during the Battle of Mogadishu multiple decorations were awarded to the airmen. Pararescueman (PJ) TSgt Tim Wilkinson received the Air Force Cross and fellow PJ MSgt Scott Fales received the Silver Star, both for providing lifesaving medical care to wounded soldiers. Combat Controller (CCT) SSgt. Jeffrey W. Bray also received the Silver Star for coordinating helicopter attack runs throughout the night around their positions.
From 15 to 20 September 2000 the 24th STS with the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron took part in the annual Canadian military exercise, Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX). This was the first time Special Tactics units took part in SAREX.
In recent years the squadron has been heavily involved in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan where the unit was part of the JSOC groupings Task Force 121, Task Force 6-26 and Task Force 145.In 2003 members of the unit were involved in two combat jumps in the initial phases of the Iraq War alongside the 3rd Ranger Battalion. The first combat jump was on 24 March 2003 near the Syrian border in the Iraqi town of Al Qaim where they secured a small desert landing strip to allow follow-on coalition forces into the area. The second combat jump was two days later near Haditha, Iraq, where they secured the Haditha Dam.
On 8 April 2003 Combat Controller Scott Sather, a member of the 24th STS,became the first airman killed in combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom near Tikrit, Iraq. He was attached to a small team from the 75th Ranger Regimental Reconnaissance Detachment (RRD). The RRD team and Sather were operating alongside Delta Force, under Lieutenant Colonel Pete Blaber, west of Baghdad. They were tasked with deceiving the Iraqi army into believing the main U.S. invasion was coming from the west in order to prevent Saddam Hussein from escaping into Syria. Sather Air Base was named after him.
The 24th STS was a part of JSOC's Task Force 145 which was a provisional grouping specifically charged with hunting down high-value al-Qaeda and Iraqi leadership including Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in June 2006.
The squadron lost three members – PJs John Brown and Daniel Zerbe and CCT Andrew Harvell – in 2011 when the Chinook in which they were flying was shot down in Afghanistan.To honor the three 24th STS members who died in the 2011 Chinook shootdown, 18 members of AFSOC marched 800 miles from Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio Texas to Hurlburt Field, Florida in their memory.
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device||18 December 1989 – 16 January 1990||Operation Just Cause|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device||16 August – 7 November 1993||Battle of Mogadishu|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device||1 September 2001 – 31 August 2003|
|Air Force Gallant Unit Citation||1 January 2006 – 31 December 2007|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||8 November 1993 – 31 July 1995|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 August 1995 – 31 July 1997|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||5 August 1997 – 31 July 1999|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award||1 September 1999 – 31 August 2001|
United States Special Operations Forces (SOF) are the special forces of the United States Department of Defense's United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) within the United States Armed Forces, used for special operations.
Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), headquartered at Hurlburt Field, Florida, is the special operations component of the United States Air Force. An Air Force major command (MAJCOM), AFSOC is also the U.S. Air Force component command to United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), a unified combatant command located at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. AFSOC provides all Air Force Special Operations Forces (SOF) for worldwide deployment and assignment to regional unified combatant commands.
The Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) is a joint component command of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and is charged to study special operations requirements and techniques to ensure interoperability and equipment standardization; to plan and conduct special operations exercises and training; to develop joint special operations tactics; and to execute special operations missions worldwide. It was established in 1980 on recommendation of Colonel Charlie Beckwith, in the aftermath of the failure of Operation Eagle Claw. It is located at Pope Field.
Special Reconnaissance (SR)—formerly Special Operations Weather Technician or Team (SOWT)—is conducted by trained Air Force personnel assigned to Special Tactics Squadrons of the United States Air Force Special Operations Command who operate deep behind enemy lines to conduct covert direction of air and missile attacks, place remotely monitored sensors, and support other special operation units. Like other special operations units, SR units may also carry out direct action (DA) and unconventional warfare (UW), including guerrilla operations. As SOWT they were tactical observer/forecasters with ground combat capabilities and fell under the Air Force Special Tactics within the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). The mission of a Special Operations Weather Team Specialist was to deploy by the most feasible means available into combat and non-permissive environments to collect and interpret meteorological data and provide air and ground forces commanders with timely, accurate intelligence. They collect data, assist mission planning, generate accurate and mission-tailored target and route forecasts in support of global special operations, conduct special weather reconnaissance and train foreign national forces. SOWTs provided vital intelligence and deployed with joint air and ground forces in support of direct action, counter-terrorism, foreign internal defense, humanitarian assistance, special reconnaissance, austere airfield, and combat search and rescue.
The term Tier One Special Mission Unit or Special Missions Unit (SMU) is a term sometimes used, particularly in the United States, to describe some highly secretive military Special Operations Forces. Special mission units have been involved in high-profile military operations, such as the killing of Osama Bin Laden.
The 18th Flight Test Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Florida performs field tests of aircraft for Air Force Special Operations Command The squadron evaluates aircraft, equipment and tactics in realistic battlespace environments to provide decision makers accurate, timely and complete assessments of mission capability. From concept development to system fielding, the unit's mission improves the survivability and combat capability of special operations forces worldwide.
United States Air Force Combat Control Teams, singular Combat Controller (CCT), are American special operations forces who specialize in all aspects of air-ground communication, including air traffic control, fire support, and command, control, and communications in covert, forward, or austere environments.
The 23rd Special Tactics Squadron is an active ground unit, within the 24th Special Operations Wing United States Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). It is garrisoned at Hurlburt Field, Florida. The 23rd STS was previously designated the 1723rd Special Tactics Squadron prior to 1992.
The United States Air Force Special Operations Training Center (AFSOTC) was located at Hurlburt Field, Florida. It worked under the supervision of the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC); Its primary function was to train the Air Force's Special Operations Personnel before being assigned to their respective units. The Mission Statement/Vision was, "Transforming Airmen into Air Commandos who possess the specialized skills and warrior ethos to fight and win anytime, anywhere." The AFSOTC was replaced February 11, 2013 by the Air Force Special Operations Air Warfare Center.
A United States Air Force Tactical Air Control Party, commonly abbreviated TACP, refers to an individual or team of United States Air Force Special Warfare Airmen with AFSC 1Z3X1, who are aligned with conventional, Special Operation Forces, and Tier 1 combat maneuver units to provide precision terminal attack guidance of U.S. and coalition fixed- and rotary-wing close air support aircraft, artillery, and naval gunfire; establish and maintain command and control (C2) communications; and advise ground commanders on the best use of air power.
The 720th Special Tactics Group is one of the special operations ground components of the 24th Special Operations Wing, assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) of the United States Air Force. The group is headquartered at Hurlburt Field, Florida. The group is composed of geographically separated squadrons in five separate states; Florida, Georgia, New Mexico, North Carolina and Washington.
The 21st Special Tactics Squadron is one of the special tactics units of the United States Air Force Special Operations Command. It is garrisoned at Pope Field, North Carolina.
A United States Air Force Special Tactics Officer is a United States Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) officer who manages the training and equipping of U.S. Air Force ground special operations. Special Tactics Officers deploy as team leaders or mission commanders in combat, seizing and controlling airstrips, combat search and rescue, guiding airstrikes and fire support using air assets for special operations and tactical weather observations and forecasting. Special Tactics Officers are not Pararescuemen, Combat Controllers, or Special Reconnaissance, but they lead the Special Tactics Squadrons and Groups and thoroughly understand how to conduct, manage, and provide these special operations missions to both conventional and joint special operations missions needed within Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM).
The 724th Special Tactics Group is one of the special operations ground components of the 24th Special Operations Wing, assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). The Group is headquartered at Pope Field, North Carolina. The Group is composed of four squadrons, also located on Pope Field.
The 17th Special Tactics Squadron is one of the ten Special Tactics Squadrons of United States Air Force Special Operations Command. It is garrisoned at Fort Benning, Georgia.
The United States Special Operations Command is the unified combatant command charged with overseeing the various special operations component commands of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force of the United States Armed Forces. The command is part of the Department of Defense and is the only unified combatant command created by an Act of Congress. USSOCOM is headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.
The 22nd Special Tactics Squadron is a Special Tactics unit of the United States Air Force Special Operations Command, based at Joint Base Lewis–McChord.
The 320th Special Tactics Squadron is a Special Tactics unit of the United States Air Force Special Operations Command, based at Kadena Air Base.
Scott Alan Howell is a lieutenant general in the United States Air Force, who currently serves as the 15th commander of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He previously served as the vice commander United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) in Washington, D.C., where he planned, coordinated, and executed USSOCOM initiatives with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Joint Staff, military services, and other government agencies.
This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/ .
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