New personnel, aircraft may be coming to Duke, Hurlburt Field
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Additional personnel and aircraft could be coming to Duke Field and Hurlburt Field as the result of two basing decisions signed recently by Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett.
Barrett signed documents identifying Eglin Air Force Base’s Duke Field, current headquarters of the Air Force’s 492nd Special Operations Wing (492nd SOW) and the Air Force Reserve’s 919th Special Operations Wing (919th SOW), as the preferred location to expand the 6th Special Operations Squadron, a combat aviation advisory unit.
Combat aviation advisors work exclusively within the 492nd SOW and 919th SOW. Broadly, they have a variety of specialized skills and they work to integrate air resources with ground resources for special operations with partner military forces.
The 6th SOS, part of the 492nd SOW, is the only active-duty unit within the U.S. armed forces whose primary mission is to execute fixed-wing combat aviation advisory operations, as opposed to helicopter-oriented missions, across the globe.
In one of her recent basing decisions, Barrett designated Duke Field as the preferred location to expand the 6th SOS’s foreign internal defense mission.
Before being finalized, basing decisions require assessments of any potential adverse environmental effects. If the 6th SOS is expanded at Duke Field, 123 additional personnel —45 officers and 78 enlisted airmen — would be assigned to the installation, according to a recent announcement from the office of Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., whose district includes Duke Field and Hurlburt Field.
In addition to the new personnel, the expansion of the 6th SOS at Duke Field would bring five new light aircraft to the installation, all with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.
Those aircraft would, according to Gaetz’s announcement, "allow the unit to better assess, train, advise and assist foreign aviation forces ... ."
In her second recent local basing decision, Barrett identified Hurlburt Field as the preferred location for three to five A-29 Super Tucano light-attack aircraft for use in supporting the 6th Special Operations Squadron and the 711th Special Operations Squadron, which is part of the 919th Special Operations Wing.
Hurlburt Field already was in line to receive three Super Tucanos "to develop an instructor pilot program for the Combat Aviation Advisory mission ... to meet increased partner nation requests for light attack assistance," according to previous announcements from various Air Force sources.
In his press release on the basing decisions, issued late last week, Gaetz said, "I applaud Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett for taking this major step towards growing the military mission in Florida’s First District. These decisions position our district to contribute even further to the readiness of the Air Force and will also bring hundreds of military personnel and family members to our community. ... I am confident these expanded mission proposals will soon come to fruition and thrive at Duke and Hurlburt Field."