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Air commandos to deploy longer to train foreign services

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FB: New deployments for air commandos. Air Force Special Operations Command is changing how they train the air forces of other countries.

The airmen charged with teaching foreign air forces will deploy for months at a time – instead of weeks – under a new Air Force Special Operations Command training scenario.

Air Force Special Operations Command is changing how they train foreign services, meaning longer deployments and new rotations for airmen tasked with teaching.

The longer deployments are to ensure command traditionally would do "episodic" training, meaning airmen would deploy to another country for weeks at a time to provide quick teaching to foreign air forces. The command is moving toward a more sustained timeline, meaning training deployments could be months at a time to make sure that the foreign airmen really understand what they are taught and that the Air Force has can make sure they made a difference, said Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, said Tuesday at an Air Force Association event.

The change will also mean that the command trains with fewer countries every year.

The shorter training "(The previous way) was cool, you got to go to a lot of places, but were we really making a difference?" Heithold said today at an Air Force Association speech in Arlington, Virginia.

The command is now looking at ways that their airmen could be in four places simultaneously for longer training deployments, with a focus now is on "persistent engagement." The airmen would rotate through if necessary to make sure the foreign troops are trained to the right level and can handle their mission, he said.

This will mean that the command will have to train with fewer countries every year. There is a constant demand for U.S. airmen across the world to help train and stand up air forces. Going forward, the command will be lucky to meet "half the demand signal," Heithold said.

Under current budget restrictions, the command will not be able to buy additional aircraft or bring in substantially more airmen to tackle the mission, he said.

Another challenge for the airmen tasked with training other air forces is the specific aircraft that are in use. The Air Force can't afford to buy all the aircraft models its trainers they could encounter across the globe for pilots to train in. Instead, the command will keep five C-145s for training pilots to fly and stay current and look at leasing other aircraft that it might need for training missions, Heithold said.

The AFSOC mission of training foreign services is the job of the 6th Special Operations Squadron at Duke Field, Florida. The service has about 100 airmen across 37 Air Force specialty codes. Airmen in the squadron must be able to show they can learn foreign languages, and they face increased counterterrorism and insurgency warfare training before they can be a part of the squadron, according to an Air Force release on the unit. The unit helped Afghan Air Force pilots train on their helicopters, and hasve recently deployed to countries across Africa.

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