Special Tactics Airmen from the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron filled in to conduct interoperability training with the 14th Weapons Squadron assigned to the U.S. Air Force Weapons School detachment at Hurlburt Field, Florida for a Special Operations Force Exercise on April 22, 2020.

Three CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft approach a landing zone for a team of Air Force Special Tactics operators to infiltrate a simulated target during operability training with the 14th Weapons Squadron at Eglin Range, Florida, April 22, 2020. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rose Gudex


The exercise was part of the 14th WPS’ demanding five and a half month syllabus exposing students to a wide range of joint special operations and combat air force capabilities. Being able to move forward with the training allowed the iteration of Weapons School students to stay on track with their training timeline.

The SOFEX also provided a unique opportunity for local Special Tactics Airmen to conduct multifaceted training with a volume of aviation assets otherwise not easily replicated outside of a larger exercise.

The units not only trained on the necessary skill sets needed to conduct a wide-range of special operations missions, increase lethality and maintain joint warfighting capabilities, but they were also tested on their ability to plan complex missions amidst COVID-19 preventative measures.

U.S. Air Force Special Tactics Squadron operators infiltrate a target from CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft during training to improve readiness and interoperability between special operations assets. Special Tactics Squadrons are the U.S. Special Operations Command’s tactical air and ground integration force, and the U.S. Air Force’s premiere special operations ground force. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rose Gudex


In addition to reducing in-person mission planning, Special Tactics Squadrons have implemented several techniques to maintain readiness while keeping health of operators at the forefront, including sanitizing equipment, using face coverings when needed, conducting internal evaluations on prioritization of missions, staffing smaller training groups and taking advantage of local training opportunities.

USAF STS operators spread out on a berm to provide security at the landing zone and observe the approach to their target objective. Special Tactics Squadron operators combine the core skills of special operations ground forces with the tactical integration of air power. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rose Gudex


Story by 1st Lt. Alejandra Fontalvo, 24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs