Wurster on “Phase Zero” Operations

Air Force Special Operations Command boss Lt. Gen. Donald Wurster, speaking Thursday afternoon during a panel session on Afghanistan air operations at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, related how the presence of special operations teams—small teams working with foreign militaries, in many cases flying or helping to maintain very old foreign weapons systems and aircraft—in Central Asia before the 9/11 terror attacks had aided US and coalition in gaining access to air bases in the region. He said, AFSOC teams had made connections with the foreign militaries in several places, one of which led to the use of Manas AB, Kyrgyzstan, as a major mobility hub. Proactive engagement in the theater helped make this happen, Wurster pointed out, and there are other areas of the world where such engagement is critical to getting out ahead of threats, noting that the challenges of irregular warfare often require “diverse and distributed” efforts. “It seems there are places where effectiveness is far more important that efficiency,” Wurster said of the unique challenges of “phase zero” operations.