Publisher: Norm Brozenick
Editor: Paul Harmon
Managing Editor: Rick Newton
Senior Editor: Scott McIntosh
Contributing Editor: Ron Dains
Contributing Editor: Matt Durham
Contributing Editor: Joel Higley
Contributing Editor: Mike Russell
Layout Editor/Graphics: Jeanette Elliott
Advertising: Melissa Gross
What Is an Air Commando?
My first exposure to what I would come to know as an Air Commando came in 1986, when an eight-ship of Pave Low helicopters landed at my base — Hill AFB, Utah, where I was a 2LT — for an exercise. I had no idea what all those “things” hanging off the airframe were, nor did I know what these special operators did. And, these SOF Airmen weren’t very forthcoming when I asked about them. I learned nothing. But…it did pique my curiosity, and frankly, the experience absolutely convinced me beyond the shadow of a doubt that I HAD to be part of them. A year and half later, I was.
Of course, it took me years of developing my craft, tactically as a Pave Low pilot, and seasoning operationally and strategically as a senior leader in our Air Force before I appreciated the “bigger picture” of what an Air Commando is and why we are so vital to SOF, our Air Force, and our nation. We, Airmen, tend to gravitate to our machines and the various sub-cultures of our squadrons as rallying points. There’s certainly nothing wrong with this. It actually makes us a viable force on the battlefield. Still, as far as Air Commandos are concerned, there is another perspective we ought to acknowledge.
An Air Commando is a leader. She is unabashed with her perspective on mission contribution, always keeping in mind that her tactical mission will have strategic consequences. An Air Commando is a unifier. The air contribution to special operations missions…more than any other element in SOF, will require fusing disparate joint contributions together to ensure seamless synchronicity. Because SOF and Airpower (not to mention Space and Cyber) are inevitably thrust together, the Air Commando is routinely the key cog to success (and is often unheralded). Finally, an Air Commando is a quiet professional. He has a keen connection to the mission and has competence in spades. But, he is a humble warrior. Former Secretary of the Air Force, Dr Heather Wilson, coined the term “humble competence” when describing Air Commandos not long ago…I love this!
So, congratulations and thank you, ACA, for 50 years of stellar support to Air Commandos past, present, and future. What follows in the pages of this edition of the ACA journal will most certainly celebrate our past and simultaneously pave the path for Air Commandos to follow. For, while we stand on the shoulders of giants such as Phil Cochran, John Alison, Dick Cole, Heinie Aderholt, and on, and on…Air Commandos of tomorrow will marvel at, and take note of, the legendary exploits of TODAY’s Air Commandos. Because, Air Commandos, at our essence, are warrior patriots who continue to fundamentally shape our national security successes and further the blessings of liberty we hold so dear.