AFSOC Priority #4: Modernize and Sustain the Force

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. --

Editor's note: This is the fourth in a series of articles focusing on each of the four AFSOC priorities.

Air Commandos, I am extremely proud of your achievements as we continue to fight in complex and dangerous areas around the world. Air Force Special Operations Command has been in constant combat for 14 years and I want to make sure you are provided the equipment you need to succeed in the future. In a fiscally-constrained environment, we are doing our best to get you the most capable platforms to accomplish your mission. Our fourth and final priority – modernize and sustain the force – ensures we are ready to answer the nation’s call…anytime, anyplace.

We are tackling this objective in several ways. First, we are optimizing our existing force structure. This means finding the best way to use the capabilities we have by looking at the right mix of aircraft, equipment and people needed to get the tough job done. We are also looking at total force mix options utilizing the Guard and Reserve components to meet the increasing demands on our force.

Second, we are working to preserve and enhance our core combat capability and capacity. It is challenging to upgrade our already proven aircraft while engaged in combat operations in multiple theaters, while not creating an unacceptable gap in our combat capabilities. We want to provide you the most modern and most capable equipment possible. My staff is working diligently to make sure you have what you need, while also spending our limited budget carefully. We have realigned resources within the AFSOC enterprise to maintain our legacy AC/MC-130s while we develop and transition to the new AC/MC-130Js. What that means for the wing- and squadron-level is that you are going to see some of your legacy airplanes longer as we slowly transition to the newer models. We need to take care of what we have because the AFSOC mission is too critical to fail.

We must also look to the future to identify and prioritize next-generation AFSOC capabilities to keep us at the tip of the spear. We are fielding new systems every day, and not just for our aircraft. Our Special Tactics Airmen are getting the latest technologies as well. They’re going from 150 pounds on their backs to half that weight and increased capabilities with new digital gear. Over the last couple of budget cycles we have increased Special Tactics funding by 37 percent. We continue to support rebuilding and modernization of ST equipment packages, which was exhausted after more than a decade of combat. We will ensure that we maintain the technical advantage over our adversaries as we continue to engage the enemy.

The fourth AFSOC priority, to modernize and sustain the force, along with the previous three I have explained – provide combat ready forces, creating an environment for our Airmen and families to thrive, and transform training to optimize human performance – were established to help you, the heart and soul of AFSOC, to succeed. I have no doubt that together we will continue to take the fight to the enemy like no other command.

Thank you for all that you do. It is truly an honor to serve alongside the best Airmen in the Air Force.