It is our special privilege to introduce this ACJ issue featuring AFSOC’s Combat Aviation Advisors. Comprised of articles written by former and current “CAA,” this issue reflects the capability, credibility, and faithfulness of the quiet professionals entrusted with the aviation advisory mission. We hope it provides realistic context and increased clarity regarding CAA and their mission.
Since the stand-up of the 6th Special Operations Squadron in 1994, all officer and enlisted CAA undergo qualification training together. A team-building experience, qualification training tests core values and personal attributes like integrity, excellence, selflessness, accountability, and courage. Tactical scenarios develop skills necessary to operate with confidence while teaming with joint, interagency, and foreign counterparts. Education inspires a personal commitment to master the cultural, political, regional, and language skills required of an effective advisor. Upon graduation, most advisors are assigned to the CAA’s primary weapon system – the team!
The CAA team is a multidisciplinary weapon system deployed to accomplish the mission in a specified area of operations. Whether conducting combat advisory operations in a remote location or a strategic airpower assessment in a national capital, CAA are individually and collectively expected to know “what right looks like” and possess the courage to do the right thing. Team members are placed in positions of trust and confidence, often with placement and access to senior foreign military and civilian authorities. They are fundamentally responsible for building relationships, and transitioning them into networked partnerships that accomplish shared security objectives.
The classic tactical mission is to train, advise, and assist aviation forces of friendly governments. CAA teams are task tailored to help foreign counterparts develop, sustain, and employ specialized airpower in special operations roles within irregular warfare environments. At the operational level, CAA create and operate command and control capabilities that integrate and orient foreign aviation forces to achieve assigned objectives with special operations counterparts.
Tactical actors on a strategic stage, CAA practice the art of the long view. Although short-term advancements in foreign aviation capabilities occur, CAA understand that meaningful, lasting progress is years in the making. Success can be masked by changes in politics and policy, and is rightfully veiled by the SOF ethos of ensuring foreign counterparts get the credit. It suffices to say that when the United States achieves a security objective by, with, and through the actions of a friendly government, and those actions were made possible in part by a CAA team, then the team has accomplished its mission.
To all AFSOF advisors, past and present, thank you for developing the relationships, partnerships, and capabilities with friendly nations that quietly helped ensure our freedom. We deeply appreciate your many personal sacrifices and those of your families. And to all those who lost an advisor in training or combat, please know their spirit lives on in the current generation of Combat Aviation Advisors.
-- Norman J. Brozenick Jr.,
Maj Gen, USAF (Ret), Former AFSOC Vice Commander, CAA #127
-- Tom Phillips
CMSgt USAF (Ret), CAA #79