The Special Tactics is to the Air Force, as SEALs is to the Navy, and Special Forces and Rangers are to the Army.
Special Tactics Squadrons are organized, trained and equipped specifically for various special operations missions facilitating air operations on the battlefield. They conduct combat search and rescue missions, collect intelligence, as well as call in close air support or airstrikes against enemy combatants and are often parterned with other U.S. special operations forces overseas.
Special Tactics is comprised of Special Tactics Officers, Combat Controllers, Combat Rescue Officers, Pararescuemen, Special Operations Weather Officers and Airmen, Air Liaison Officers, Tactical Air Control Party operators, and a number of combat support Airmen which compromise 58 Air Force specialties.
These unique skills provide a full-spectrum, air-focused special operations capability to the combatant commander in order to ensure airpower success. With their unique skill sets, Special Tactics operators are often the first special operations elements deployed into crisis situations. Special Tactics Airmen often embed with Navy SEALs, Army Special Forces and Rangers to provide everything from combat air support to medical aid and personnel recovery, depending on their specialty.
Today, their mission is to provide Special Tactics Airmen for rapid global employment to enable airpower success. They are the U.S. Special Operations Command’s tactical air and ground integration force and the Air Force’s special operations ground force to enable global access, precision strike and personnel recovery operations.
24th SPECIAL TACTICS SQUADRON
The 24th Special Tactics Squadron is one of the Special Tactics units of the United States Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). It is the U.S. Air Force component to Joint Special Operations Command. The 24th STS is the same to the Special Tactics as DEVGRU/SEAL Team Six is to the SEALs and 75th Ranger Regiment and Delta Force is to the Army.
In the recent years the squadron has been heavily involved in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan where the unit was part of the JSOC HVT Task Forces: Task Force 121, Task Force 6-26 and Task Force 145.
The 24th STS was a part of JSOC’s Task Force 145 which was a provisional Task Force specifically charged with hunting down high-value al-Qaeda and Iraqi leadership targets, including the Iraqi leader of Al-Qaeda, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in June 2006.