Combat Aviation Advisors Don New Headgear

Raksasa Kotor

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Hastily thrown together article, but it hits the high points. For background, Combat Aviation Advisors have quietly been conducting aviation FID since 1994. Since I know the question will be asked, one of the key differences between CAA's and other Air Force aviation advisors is that the units (6 & 711 SOS) are specifically tasked with aviation FID on a permanent basis and their personnel are assessed, selected and trained for that mission.

Air Force unveils new berets for combat advisers

Air Force unveils new berets for combat advisers
By: Kyle Rempfer   2 days ago1.4K
Combat aviation advisers stabilize a victim during an exercise on the Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., range. Airmen in this community will soon be able to wear a unique beret, as approved by Air Force leaders. (Tech. Sgt. Jasmin Taylor/Air Force)
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify the rules for wearing these new berets, which are authorized by Air Force Special Operations Command. The change is not an Air Force-wide policy change.

Air Force Special Operations Command will unveil a newly approved beret for members of its Combat Aviation Advisor community during a ceremony Saturday at Duke Field, Florida.

Airmen in the more than a dozen career fields included in the community will be able to don a brown beret for the first time during the ceremony, which will be officiated by Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command.

However, CAAs will only be able to wear the berets while assigned to AFSOC, because the change is not an Air Force-wide policy change. Instead, it is an AFSOC major command functional uniform authorization, said Lt. Col. Peter Hughes, spokesman for AFSOC.

“This level of authorization comes from Gen. Webb, as a three-star commander of a major command. He can authorize it for in-garrison, home station wear, based on specific requirements that are met in order to be a Combat Aviation Advisor,” Hughes told Air Force Times.

In essence, CAAs will not be “authorized to wear the berets the same way PJs, CCTs, TACPs, SERE instructors, or even AF security forces airmen do, because all of those are authorized for wear as part of the uniform under Air Force Instruction 36-2903,” Hughes said in an email.

If a CAA is stationed at Hurlburt Field, Florida, they can wear the new beret there, but “if they’re at the Pentagon, or say they’re at Maxwell [AFB], at the Air War College, they’re not authorized to wear it,” Hughes added.

Combat Aviation Advisors are responsible for “integrating with ground-based Special Operations Force advisers to conduct special operations activities by, with, and through foreign aviation forces,” according to the Air Force.

The specialized advisers are equipped to deploy to hostile and friendly regions to train allied nations’ aviation units in tactics, techniques and procedures. CAAs have existed in their current form since the early 1990s, but demand by allies abroad has always outpaced supply.

Over the past several years, the need for these advisers among U.S. allies has exploded, according to an April 2016 press release. Because of this, the CAA presence finally grew to meet the mission across the globe.

In order to apply for the CAA position, airmen must be an expert in their field, prove language proficiency on the defense language aptitude battery, have excellent physical fitness scores, and have a personality that matches the demands of advising different cultures.

“We need people who are charismatic and can help further relationships with our partner nations,” said Master Sgt. Todd Chandler, 6th Special Operations Squadron operations superintendent. “The training is rigorous and challenging. It makes you think outside the box.”

If chosen, a candidate undergoes a 12- to 18-month training program, specifically designed to create advisers who are “foreign language proficient, regionally-oriented, politically astute, and culturally aware aviation experts,” according to Air Force Special Operations Command.

Training is broken down into four phases: tactical field craft, adviser trade craft, culture and language training, and AFSC training specific to each adviser’s career field.

Airmen in 18 AFSCs are eligible to apply for CAA training. They include special operations pilot, combat systems officer, Air Liaison Officer, intelligence analyst, security forces and general medical officer.

“There are approximately 250 Active Duty and Reserve members in the CAA community,” said Lt. Col. James Wilson, Chief of Public Affairs at the 919th Special Operations Wing, in an email to Air Force Times.

President John F. Kennedy awarded the Green Beret to U.S. Army Special Forces before it was officially authorized. The CAA community similarly presented their beret prototype to President Donald Trump on July 18, 2017
 

Raksasa Kotor

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Another article (photos and video at link):

Combat aviation advisors get new headgear

DUKE FIELD — Six months after presenting a prototype to President Donald Trump, Air Force combat aviation advisors now are authorized to wear special headgear when on duty with the Air Force Special Operations Command, including locally at Duke Field and Hurlburt Field.

Some of the nearly 250 airmen now working as combat aviation advisors donned the new brown berets identifying them as advisors during a Saturday ceremony at Duke Field. Airmen in nearly 20 Air Force jobs, from special operations pilot to intelligence analyst to general medical officer, can apply to the 12- to 18-month combat aviation advisor training program. Advisors can be deployed to both hostile and friendly regions to train allied nations’ aviation units in tactics, techniques and procedures. Combat aviation advisors have been part of the Air Force for two decades, and are in high demand among U.S. allies.

“As the Special Operations Command commander, I can tell you what I expect to see when I see a brown beret,” Lt. Gen. Brad Webb said Saturday as he addressed a group of advisors and other guests. “I expect to see a cultural expert — one that has a complete understanding of a host nation’s customs, culture and way of life. I expect to see a joint warfare expert — an expert in our way of warfare, and an expert in understanding the host nation’s and the partner nations’ way of warfare.”

Prior to Saturday, combat aviation advisors were not differentiated from other Air Force personnel. The advisors still are not authorized to wear the headgear when they are not deployed or not at their duty station with the Air Force Special Operations Command.

An Air Force-wide policy on the wearing of the new berets is pending, according to Lt. Col. James Wilson, chief of public affairs at the 919th Special Operations Wing at Duke Field.

To apply for combat aviation advisor training, airmen must be an expert in their field, prove language proficiency, have excellent physical fitness scores and have a personality that matches the demands of advising different cultures, according to an Air Force Times story on the new brown berets.

“We need people who are charismatic and can help further relationships with our partner nations,” Master Sgt. Todd Chandler of the 6th Special Operations Squadron told Air Force Times. “The training is rigorous and challenging. It makes you think outside the box.”
 

Johca

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http://www.afsoc.af.mil/Portals/86/Users/135/15/1415/CAALeaflet.pdf?ver=2017-06-19-133423-923

In March 1994, the first major aviation-FID deployment was conducted in Ecuador, and in April 1994, the organization was renamed the 6th Special Operations Flight and realigned under the 16th Operations Group of the 16th Special Operations Wing.

The unit was reactivated again on Jan. 6, 1970 at England Air Force Base, Louisiana, with the mission of replacement training of US Air Force pilots in A-37B aircraft. The unit was redesignated as the 6th Special Operations Training Squadron on Aug. 31 1972. The unit was assigned to the 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, Florida, on July 31, 1973 and reassigned to the 23d Tactical Fighter Wing on Jan. 1, 1974. The squadron was deactivated Sept. 15, 1974.

In August 1993, the organization became Detachment 7, Special Operations Combat Operations Staff.

The unit was upgraded to squadron status in October 1994 to reflect its growth in mission and personnel. The squadron received its first two aircraft, UH-1N Hueys, on Oct. 11, 1996, and marked its first flight in 27 years on Dec. 20, 1996. Advisors are tactically qualified in a variety of aircraft, including the Russian An-2, An-26, and An-32 transport aircraft, the Russian Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters, the Spanish CASA 212 Transport, the Jordanian CASA AC-235 Gunship, the Chinese Y-12 Transport, the French AS-332 Super Puma, the Canadian DHC-6 Twin Otter, the Basler BT-67, all models of the US Huey helicopter, the Tunisian MX-7 Maule, the Thai PC-6 Peacemaker, the Cessna C-208, the Afghan PC-12, the Polish M-28 Sky-truck, the Jordanian BPA-802, the Jordanian Longsword-AT-802, and several USAF C-130 variants.
 

Johca

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The only aspect of the approval I'm calling BS on is AFSOC public Affair's homage assertion of "President John F. Kennedy awarded the Green Beret to the U.S. Army Special Forces before it was officially authorized. The Combat Aviation Advisors community had the honor of presenting the first brown beret prototype to the current Command in Chief, President Donald J. Trump, thus paying homage to the tradition of this distinctive headgear."

Other than the Army Special Forces beret approval, it was not a prior to approval, during approval, or after approval practice of doing homage for any other Air Force Beret uniform. It's kind of insulting considering the Brown beret is an in garrison duty wear uniform item. From the press release picture the SF assigned are required to wear the brown beret. I wonder if the TACP and SERE assigned to the unit are being forced to wear the brown beret too? Most interesting if so.
 

Raksasa Kotor

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TACP and SERE performing CAA duties wear the brown beret and can place their respective metal beret device on the cloth flash.

The prototype beret being presented to the President was a target of opportunity. The unit commander was notified that he had a few hours to get a CAA FGO to a meeting with POTUS to discuss FID activities in Afghanistan alongside members of Special Forces. The commander gave the prototype beret and a note referencing JFK's role in securing the green beret for Special Forces to the FGO, who then presented the note and beret to the President at the end of the meeting. AFSOC approval came after the fact; AF approval is pending.
 

Johca

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The homage assertion of being a tradition is the focus, not the opportunity. No AF AFSC sought presidential political involvement in getting its beret approved.

That TACP, SERE and Security Forces performing CAA duties "will" (not clear in the info response) wear the brown beret and can place their respective metal beret device on the cloth flash is their choice to be happy with or not.

I do have a good chuckle on the color choice of brown being described as signifying "fertile soil". " The color signifies fertile soil and reminds the wearer daily to look for potential where others see barrenness."
 
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