919th SOW adapts to AFSOC’s new warfighting model

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Dylan Gentile
  • 919th Special Operations Wing

For more than 20 years after the attacks of September 11th, the U.S. defense structure was geared towards counterterrorism operations and fighting an asymmetric threat. The training and deployment model was designed for counterinsurgency and supporting a long-term presence at defined and established locations. Today, Citizen Air Commandos prepare for a different battlefield defined by competition between rising powers that threaten global peace and stability.

The Air Force is adapting to stay relevant and ready to fight in this new world order. As a result, Airmen assigned to the 919th SOW can expect noticeable changes in how the unit trains and deploys in the future based on the new Air Force Special Operations Forces Force Generation model and larger Force Generation Model for the Air Force.

Force generation is how the Air Force trains and employs Airmen at home as well as in a deployed environment. AFSOC has developed the model to deploy the functionality of a whole unit and establish operational air bases while maintaining a small footprint.

“There's no enduring location where Special Operations Forces are going to go and just wait anymore,” said Lt. Col. Chris Gesch, 919th SOW Chief of Wing Plans and Programs. “The intent is to organize and employ so that we can be a little bit more agile and effective in smaller numbers.”

To do this, the new model calls for Special Operations Task Groups, Special Operations Task Units, Mission Sustainment Teams, and a heavy emphasis on multifunctional Airmen. SOTG’s perform Command and Control of SOF air assets. SOTU’s are subordinate to the SOTG and provide aviation, maintenance and operational functions. MSTs provide all mission support functions needed by the SOTUs and SOTG such as establishing shelter and providing sustenance. Instead of deploying individual Airmen to supplement existing servicemembers from throughout the Department of Defense at an overseas location, SOTG’s and SOTU’s will be deployed together from home units as a total force.

Airmen will train together as a team and participate in certification exercises, where evaluators will judge the readiness of the teams to perform the deployed mission. These certification exercises are integral to the new two-year battle-rhythm that prepares Airmen for six-month deployments at its end and helps ensure everyone can do their part to protect each other and the mission regardless of the location.

“Our job as a command is to protect our teammates,” said Lt. Col. Matt Novotney, AFSOFORGEN Project Lead. “The last 19 years for AFSOC Airmen has been defined by a heavy, often last minute, deployment tempo, and it’s time to give predictability to our Airmen’s lives.”

The new battle-rhythm in AFSOC works in four phases; individual, unit, joint-collective, and commit and deploy. The commit phase is when units are either deployed, fully operational, or responding to an emergent crisis. The individual phase is focused on reintegration back home, recovery, and reconstitution. The unite phase is training-heavy with ample exercises and working with partners across the force. Finally, the joint-collective phase is when theater-specific training occurs, indicating the unit is at maximum readiness and prepared to deploy.

“This is how we're going to present forces to the warfighter and put special operations forces at locations around the globe,” said Gesch. “Units will get tasked, train Airmen for the mission, and verify that they’re ready to go do it.”

To maintain the small footprint, Airmen in the new force generation model will train to perform a number of tasks across related career fields. This combined scaleable force can provide a strategic depth in support of a full spectrum of conflicts.

The 919th SOW will provide its first SOTG under the new operational model by the end of fiscal year 2023. As the wing adapts with the rest of the force to provide fully capable Citizen Air Commandos any time, any place, AFSOFORGEN will help leverage our lethality against new adversaries.

“Creating this cycle will facilitate camaraderie and true integration among SOF personnel,” said Novotney. “This will be one of those situations where it’ll be hard, change is hard, but as we develop new habits and ask for new things, we’re going to be a stronger command for it.”