Schwartz Discusses Past, Present of Special Ops

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2011 — The Unit­ed States has the world’s most com­pe­tent and most capa­ble spe­cial oper­a­tions forces thanks to the self­less ded­i­ca­tion of count­less U.S. spe­cial oper­a­tions pro­fes­sion­als over the years, the Air Force chief of staff said here this week.

National Defense Industrial Association's 22nd Annual Special Operations and Low-intensity Conflict Symposium in Washington, D.C.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Nor­ton A. Schwartz dis­cuss­es spe­cial oper­a­tions forces dur­ing the Nation­al Defense Indus­tri­al Association’s 22nd Annu­al Spe­cial Oper­a­tions and Low-inten­si­ty Con­flict Sym­po­sium in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., Feb. 9, 2011.
Cour­tesy pho­to
Click to enlarge

Gen. Nor­ton A. Schwartz dis­cussed the past and present of spe­cial oper­a­tions forces Feb. 9 at the Nation­al Defense Indus­tri­al Association’s 22nd Annu­al Spe­cial Oper­a­tions and Low-inten­si­ty Con­flict Symposium. 

The event’s theme was “Defense, Diplo­ma­cy and Devel­op­ment: Trans­lat­ing Pol­i­cy into Oper­a­tional Capa­bil­i­ty.” Schwartz addressed his audi­ence from expe­ri­ence, hav­ing joined the ranks of spe­cial oper­a­tions forces in 1980. 

In the past, spe­cial oper­a­tions per­son­nel some­times had to oper­ate in ways quite dif­fer­ent­ly from how they and Air Force units gen­er­al­ly oper­ate today, Schwartz said. 

“For instance, in the 1980s, C‑130 assault land­ings and low-lev­el oper­a­tions using night-vision gog­gles required spe­cial­ly qual­i­fied [spe­cial oper­a­tions] air­crews who, as a mat­ter of rou­tine, would duct-tape ‘chem-sticks’ to their instru­ment pan­els and tape over warn­ing lights to allow safe oper­a­tions on night-vision gog­gles,” Schwartz said. 

Today, he said, near­ly every Air Force air­frame is con­fig­ured, and most air­crew mem­bers are qual­i­fied, for night-vision gog­gle operations. 

By 1996, spe­cial oper­a­tions had evolved from clock-to-map-to-ground nav­i­ga­tion to using mov­ing maps and GPS-based pre­ci­sion nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems, he said. 

Not long before that, Schwartz said, he had spo­ken with great pride at his brigadier gen­er­al pro­mo­tion cer­e­mo­ny about his spe­cial oper­a­tions team­mates and their oper­a­tional achievements. 

“Con­sid­er­ing how far we’d come since I’d first joined this band of broth­ers, I declared my belief that we had entered a ‘gold­en age’ of spe­cial oper­a­tions,” Schwartz said. 

Through­out the 1990s, mis­sion sets from peace­keep­ing and non­com­bat evac­u­a­tions oper­a­tions to coun­tert­er­ror­ism and inte­grat­ed major com­bat oper­a­tions all ben­e­fit­ted immense­ly from the pro­gres­sive­ly bet­ter orga­nized, trained, and equipped spe­cial oper­a­tions team.” 

Those mis­sions, he said, and the fur­ther devel­op­ment of spe­cial oper­a­tions forces helped to pre­pare the pow­er­ful U.S. response to the Sept. 11, 2001, ter­ror­ist attacks on the Unit­ed States. 

“After 9/11, the [spe­cial oper­a­tions] team was also able to launch itself on a tra­jec­to­ry of fur­ther devel­op­ment that, I believe, ensured the exten­sion of the gold­en age … through to the present and well into the future,” Schwartz said. 

The nature of the con­flicts that lat­er ensued in Afghanistan and Iraq helped spe­cial oper­a­tions evolve into a force that was able to meet the need for time­ly and accu­rate intel­li­gence in order to pur­sue an elu­sive and embed­ded adver­sary, the gen­er­al said. These devel­op­ments are seen in the efforts of Air Force Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Com­mand joint ter­mi­nal attack con­trollers, who today bol­ster the crit­i­cal inter­face between SOF ground forces and the deci­sive effects that air pow­er can pro­vide, he added. 

“That pio­neer­ing group of air­men has evolved into a cul­tur­al­ly attuned, elite force of lethal war­riors, for­ti­fied with an abil­i­ty to con­cen­trate fire­pow­er on the ground with air­pow­er effects when­ev­er and wher­ev­er need­ed,” the gen­er­al said. 

As a result of all these efforts and accom­plish­ments, “our nation has in its ser­vice today the world’s most com­pe­tent, and cer­tain­ly the most capa­ble, spe­cial oper­a­tions force any­where,” Schwartz said. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →