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Combat Aviation Advisors (CAAs) are Air Commandos that serve in Operational Aviation Detachments responsible for integrating with surface SOF advisors to conduct special operations activities by/with/through foreign aviation forces in permissive, hostile, and denied territories to deny, degrade, or defeat a threat. They are tasked to carry out Foreign Internal Defense (FID), Security Force Assistance (SFA), and Unconventional Warfare (UW) tasks on behalf of USSOCOM. Advisors use their tactical and operational knowledge to accomplish these strategic tasks through engagements centered on SOF mobility, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR), adaptive strike, and surface integration functions. CAAs assess, train, advise, assist, and accompany foreign aviation forces in airpower employment, sustainment, and force integration. They enable friendly, partner, and allied forces employ and sustain their own combat-oriented airpower resources and, when necessary, integrate those resources into joint and combined (multi-national) operations from small bilateral events to large scale contingency operations addressing major regional conflict.
CAAs are trained in a wide range of specialized skills that they use to carry out their mission. Ultimately combat aviation advisors exist to facilitate the availability, reliability, and interoperability of participating foreign aviation resources that support joint and combined operations. This is done primarily through hands-on, adaptive advisory missions designed to demonstrate the practical application of air resource management.
CAAs are required to complete a demanding four phased 12-18 month training program designed to produce foreign language proficient, regionally-oriented, politically astute, and culturally aware aviation experts. Graduates of the course are willing and able to operate autonomously environments apart from a traditional base support structure, and in concert with other US and international SOF surface partners.
Phase I - Advanced Tactical Fieldcraft (ICSOF, IFID & ACC)
• Advanced Tactical Weapons
• Small Unit Tactics (SUT)
• Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC)
• Tactical Force Protection (TFP)
• Small Unit Tactics – Urban (SUT-U)
• Antiterrorism Dynamic & Defensive Driving (DDD)
Phase II - Advisor Tradecraft
• Advanced Special Operations Training
• Mission Planning
• Raven Claw
Phase III - Culture & Language Training
• CAT I &II - 80 days
• CAT III - 120 days
• CAT IV - 160 days
Phase IV - AFSC Specific Training
• Aircrew flight training
• CAA - Job Qualification Standard (JQS) Training
The CAAMQC curriculum primes CAAs in tactical field-craft, advisor tradecraft within each respective Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) and culture & language training through the USAFSOS Language and Culture Center located on Hurlburt Field, Florida; CAAs representing 18 separate AFSCs test and maintain proficiency in languages such as: Russian, Polish, German, Arabic, Spanish, French, Tagalog, Thai, and Portuguese-Brazilian.
The 6 SOS was originally constituted as the 6th Fighter Squadron (Commando) on Sept. 22, 1944 as part of the 1st Air Commando Group. The squadron flew the P-47D Thunderbolt and operated out of Asansol, Fenny and Cox's Bazaar, India. In May 1945, the unit converted to the P-51 Mustang and returned home for deactivation in November 1945.
The unit was reconstituted at Hurlburt Field, Florida, on 27 April 1962, and assigned to the 1st Air Commando Group, flying the B/RB-26, U-10, T-28, and by early 1963, the A-1E (call sign HOBO). The unit's mission was to train in counterinsurgency (COIN) and unconventional warfare, and demonstrate those tactics both within the US and abroad. Squadron personnel served as advisors to Vietnamese Air Force personnel at Bien Hoa. During the same period, at Howard Air Force Base, Panama, they trained Central and South American airmen in COIN tactics, techniques, and procedures.
All aircraft were reassigned in July 1963, except the T-28, and many personnel were transferred to form the cadres for new special operations units. By March 1964, the squadron increased manning sufficiently to deploy to Udorn Air Base, Thailand, to train air and ground crews in COIN operations.
The unit moved with the 1st Air Commando Wing to England Air Force Base, Louisiana, in January 1966, and continued the same type of operations as previously performed at Hurlburt Field (to include the return of the A-1E aircraft). By December 1967, the last of the T-28s were transferred, and the unit started receiving A-1G, H, and J aircraft.
The unit deployed to Pleiku Air Base, Vietnam, in February 1968, and was reassigned to the 14th Air Commando Wing. The unit was reassigned to the 633d Special Operations Wing on July 15, 1968, and redesignated the 6th Special Operations Squadron. The unit flew combat missions, including air support for ground forces, air cover for transports, day and night interdiction, combat search and rescue support, armed reconnaissance, and forward air control. The unit was deactivated on Nov. 15, 1969.
The unit was reactivated again on Jan. 6, 1970 at England Air Force Base, Louisiana, with the mission of replacement training of US Air Force pilots in A-37B aircraft. The unit was redesignated as the 6th Special Operations Training Squadron on Aug. 31 1972. The unit was assigned to the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida, on July 31, 1973 and reassigned to the 23d Tactical Fighter Wing on Jan. 1, 1974. The squadron was deactivated Sept. 15, 1974.
The Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986, which created the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), identified foreign internal defense (FID) as one of the principal activities of special operations forces. Subsequently, in 1990, the Commander, USSOCOM validated and strongly supported the establishment of a dedicated Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) aviation-FID organization.
In the spring of 1991, a FID office was created in the Plans, Programs, and Acquisition Management Directorate of Headquarters AFSOC, and an aviation-FID concept of operations study was published. In July 1992, the organization conducted a "proof-of-concept" deployment to Ecuador with the US Army 7th Special Forces Group. The success of the deployment led to a Commander, USSOCOM request for an early unit stand-up. In August 1993, the organization became Detachment 7, Special Operations Combat Operations Staff.
In March 1994, the first major aviation-FID deployment was conducted in Ecuador, and in April 1994, the organization was renamed the 6th Special Operations Flight and realigned under the 16th Operations Group of the 16th Special Operations Wing.
The unit was upgraded to squadron status in October 1994 to reflect its growth in mission and personnel. The squadron received its first two aircraft, UH-1N Hueys, on Oct. 11, 1996, and marked its first flight in 27 years on Dec. 20, 1996. Advisors are tactically qualified in a variety of aircraft, including the Russian An-2, An-26, and An-32 transport aircraft, the Russian Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters, the Spanish CASA 212 Transport, the Jordanian CASA AC-235 Gunship, the Chinese Y-12 Transport, the French AS-332 Super Puma, the Canadian DHC-6 Twin Otter, the Basler BT-67, all models of the US Huey helicopter, the Tunisian MX-7 Maule, the Thai PC-6 Peacemaker, the Cessna C-208, the Afghan PC-12, the Polish M-28 Sky-truck, the Jordanian BPA-802, the Jordanian Longsword-AT-802, and several USAF C-130 variants.
Squadron personnel are currently operating in AFRICOM, CENTCOM, EUCOM, PACOM and SOUTHCOM. Between 2002 and 2019, squadron OADs deployed to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Mauritania, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, Tunisia, Yemen, Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Panama, Poland, Hungary, and Romania.
The 6 SOS stands ready to respond on short-notice wherever tasked worldwide. Commensurate with tasked commitments, the squadron continues to hone its combat aviation advisory skills and exercise bilaterally with foreign friends and allies.
Constituted 6th Fighter Squadron, Commando, on 22 Sep 1944. Activated on 30 Sep 1944. Inactivated on 3 Nov 1945. Disbanded on 8 Oct 1948. Reconstituted, and activated, on 18 Apr 1962. Organized on 27 Apr 1962. Redesignated: 6th Air Commando Squadron, Fighter, on 15 Jun 1966; 6th Special Operations Squadron on 15 Jul 1968. Inactivated on 15 Nov 1969. Activated on 8 Jan 1970. Redesignated 6th Special Operations Training Squadron on 31 Aug 1972. Inactivated on 15 Sep 1974. Redesignated 6th Special Operations Flight on 25 Mar 1994. Activated on 1 Apr 1994. Redesignated 6th Special Operations Squadron on 1 Oct 1994- Current.
1st Air Commando Group, 30 Sep 1944-3 Nov 1945 (attached to First Provisional Fighter Group, 7 Feb-c. 8 May 1945; 2d Air Commando Group, 23 May-20 Jun 1945). Tactical Air Command, 18 Apr 1962; 1st Air Commando Group (later, 1st Air Commando Wing), 27 Apr 1962; 14th Air Commando Wing, 29 Feb 1968; 633d Special Operations Wing, 15 Jul 1968-15 Nov 1969. 4410th Combat Crew Training Wing (later, 4410th Special Operations Training Group), 8 Jan 1970; 1st Special Operations Wing, 31 Jul 1973; 23d Tactical Fighter Wing, 1 Jan-15 Sep 1974. 16th Operations Group, 1 Apr 1994-15 November 2006. 1st Special Operations Group, 16 November 2006-2012. AFSOAWC 2012-2017, 492nd SOW 2017- Current.
Asansol, India, 30 Sep 1944 (detachments operated from Cox's Bazar, India, 15-21 Oct 1944, 2-8 Nov 1944; and 11-18 Jan 1945, and from Fenny, India, 1-24 Dec 1944); Hay, India, 7 Feb 1945; Asansol, India, 9 May 1945; Kalaikunda, India, 23 May 1945; Asansol, India, 22 Jun-6 Oct 1945; Camp Kilmer, NJ, 1-3 Nov 1945. Eglin Air Force Auxiliary Airfield No. 9 (Hurlburt Field), FL, 27 Apr 1962; England AFB, LA, 15 Jan 1966-17 Feb 1968; Pleiku AB, South Vietnam, 29 Feb 1968-15 Nov 1969 (detachment operated from Da Nang AB, South Vietnam, 1 Apr 1968-1 Sep 1969). England AFB, LA, 8 Jan 1970-15 Sep 1974. Hurlburt Fld, FL, 1 Apr 1994-2012. Duke Field, FL, 2012-Current.
B/RB-26 and L-28 (later, U-10), 1962-1963
A-1, 1963, 1966, 1967-1969
World War II
Vietnam Air Offensive Phase II
Vietnam Air Offensive Phase III
Vietnam Air Offensive Phase IV
Vietnam Summer-Fall 1969
Vietnam Winter-Spring 1970
Presidential Unit Citation - Vietnam
1 Jun-15 Nov 69
Gallant Unit Citation
6 Oct 01-30 May 03
Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with the Combat "V" Device
1 Feb-20 Jun 68
15 Jul 68-31 May 69
1 Jun 97-31 May 99
1 Jul 03-30 Jun 05
Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards
Jul 63-Jun 65
15 Sep 70-31 Dec 71
1 Jun 95-31 May 97
1 Jul 99-30 Jun 01
1 Jul 01-30 Jun 03
1 Sep 04-31 Aug 06
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm
1 Jan 68-15 Nov 69
6 SOS Emblem Significance
Blue represents the sky, the primary theater of Air Force operations. Yellow signifies the sun and the excellence required of Air Force personnel. The disc bearing an annulet alludes to a globe and reflects the unit's round-the-clock, worldwide mission capabilities. The six-pointed star denotes the squadron's numerical designation and honors the memory of all previous "commandos." The lightning bolts refelect WW II Campaign credits. The winged dagger symbolizes the special operation mission of the unit and the dedication and skills of unit personnel.
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