Air Commandos and Denied Airspace

While Air Force Special Operations Command commandos don’t knock down integrated air defenses, these silent professionals do depend on air, cyber, and space superiority to conduct operations in the “enemy seams,” said Lt. Gen. Donald Wurster, AFSOC commander. “In general we don’t care so much about how much noise we make going out, just what we make going in,” he told the crowd at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium and Technology Exposition in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday. AFSOC is about halfway through its CV-22 acquisition and the platform is altering how special operators are able to do their jobs since it can penetrate farther and faster than previous vertical-lift assets. However, CV-22s cannot insert small teams deep into territory where integrated air defenses exist, said Wurster, highlighting a requirement which will need scrutiny in the future. A next-generation concept could be explored in small numbers, he said, adding that there are inherent challenges to moving fast, landing, and taking off with low visibility. “But for the 85 percent of the places we need to go, we’ve got a good fleet in place to do that,” Wurster said.