Working knowledge of special operations brings Airman fresh insight

USAF Special Operations School disc

USAF Special Operations School disc

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Recently I took the Introduction to Special Operations Course offered by the United States Air Force Special Operations School at Hurlburt Field, Fla. I've been stationed here for over a year and half and have learned more from the week-long course than in all my time here.

Originally, I signed up for ISOC for the college credit it offered me and a nice break from the monotony of my job. I expected it to just be another boring class. But to my surprise, the class was actually very engaging and I really enjoyed it.

Eventually I found myself eager to go to class every day. The lectures were informative, but more than that, they were entertaining. Afterwards the course left me energized to get back to the mission because of the special operations forces truths I learned there.

The course explained the Air Force Special Operations Command and covered Army, Marine and Navy special operations. I was surprised at how much AFSOC supports all branches' special operations.

The class also taught me more about the five SOF truths. The first, "humans are more important than hardware." Even though aircraft may be worth millions of dollars, a flesh and blood human with the training to maintain and operate it is worth more.

The second truth, "quality is better than quantity." We give fewer people more training to give them the ability to do more jobs than the average Airman.

The third truth is very similar to the last truth, "special operations forces cannot be mass produced." Not only is quality better than quantity it also takes time for a special operations forces member to be built.

The fourth truth has been learned from mistakes made in the past, "competent special operations forces cannot be created after emergencies occur", a strong and prepared special operations force cannot be assembled after the fact.

The last truth applies to every Airman in AFSOC. "Most special operations require non special operations forces assistance." What you do every day to support the mission is vital and important to completing AFSOC missions.

These truths are really helpful for me in understanding why we do the things we do and the way we do them. These truths can also help make important career decisions. Let's say you're a fuels Airman about to repair the inside of a C-130 fuel tank but you don't want to wear the required constrictive respirator. Think back to the first SOF truth: humans are more important than hardware. Although the aircraft needs to be repaired now, if you get hurt, the mission fails.

Before I took this class my perspective of Air Force Special Operations was vague--mostly drawing from information gathered from the news and television. After the completing the class, the AFSOC mission is much more clear to me and I can see how every job is important to the mission. By the end of the course, rather than wanting a break from work, I was ready to get back to supporting the mission in my job.