twenty fourth Particular Techniques Squadron: Spear of the Sky

The twenty fourth Particular Techniques Squadron is an Air Pressure and JSOC particular mission unit accountable for offering air help for particular operations.

When America’s most elite particular operations forces require advance coordination of air belongings, direct fireplace missions through shut air help (CAS), the restoration of downed personnel in enemy territory, or superior battlefield medical care, there may be one unit they flip to the twenty fourth Particular Techniques Squadron (twenty fourth STS). Also called Process Pressure White, the twenty fourth STS is an elite group of airmen with the only real function of supporting and enabling different particular mission items (SMUs) throughout the Joint Particular Operations Command (JSOC).

Emblem of the twenty fourth Particular Techniques Squadron. (Supply)

Although not as effectively generally known as their Army or Navy counterparts, the twenty fourth STS serves an integral position not solely as an unbiased particular operations group but in addition as a help group. The Particular Techniques Squadron can be noticeably older than different particular forces teams. Their origin dates again to World Conflict 2, previous to the US’s adoption of a widespread particular operations doctrine.

1. Historical past of the twenty fourth Particular Techniques Squadron

The formation of the twenty fourth STS dates again to WWII when the squadron initially glided by the title twenty fourth Air Corps Interceptor Management Squadron. (Supply) The squadron on the time labored primarily in direction of the coordination and command of interceptor squadrons.

Like many particular operations teams, they went by totally different names since their inception, such because the twenty fourth Pursuit Group and the San Francisco Air Protection Wing. (Supply) The twenty fourth’s task to Pacific coastal defence close to the top of WWII earned it these names amongst many. All through these assignments, the twenty fourth centered on the coordination of air belongings throughout totally different bases and theatres.

This preliminary mission would start to form the up to date operate of the twenty fourth Particular Techniques Squadron, tying its experience in plane utilization with the trendy doctrine of extremely adaptable particular operations forces.

2. Doctrine

The trendy twenty fourth STS is, like different SMUs, assigned to its function due to its distinctive and extremely efficient talent set. For the twenty fourth, this particular skillset is the coordination and implementation of airpower, a core part of contemporary US army doctrine. Air dominance and management over any space of operation has lengthy been a main idea in American air doctrine, courting again to WWII. “Proudly owning the skies” is a crucial facet of manoeuvre warfare. To this present day, give attention to each world attain and energy for its air forces stays a necessary a part of US army air doctrine (Supply).

The first function of the twenty fourth STS is to assist additional this doctrine and be sure that US airpower is absolutely utilized alongside ground-based particular operations forces.  Nevertheless, in contrast to their comrades in Delta Pressure and DEVGRU, the twenty fourth STS will not be solely a direct combat-oriented crew. It carries with it a lot of functions, together with airfield reconnaissance, evaluation and management, personnel restoration and triage, joint terminal assault management, and even humanitarian efforts (Supply). The twenty fourth’s command over air belongings within the area makes it greater than a tactical powerhouse for JSOC, it serves as an all-around specialised strategic help. Inside every of their specializations, there’s a vary of expertise and purposes that come into play.

Men fast roping out of a helicopter.
twenty fourth Particular Operations Wing conducts fast-rope coaching as a part of coaching train Emerald Warrior 16. Photograph by Senior Airman Trevor McBride Picture through DVIDS (Supply)

3. Organisation

Whereas different JSOC  forces are separated into particular power buildings, the group of the twenty fourth is much less inflexible. For essentially the most half, the particular operations airmen of the twenty fourth are hooked up to different SMUs inside JSOC. Somewhat than working in groups of Airforce personnel, twenty fourth STS operators will work independently as enablers for operational components from items like DEVGRU and Delta Pressure. Members of the twenty fourth STS will likely be hooked up to a unit and deployed alongside them. Nevertheless, the twenty fourth STS has an extremely excessive uptempo attributable to its specialised expertise and broad operational capabilities. Throughout Operation Gothic Serpent aka Black Hawk Down, the twenty fourth STS had solely 11 operators deployed (Supply)

3.1. Pressure Organisation:

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The precise composition of the twenty fourth Particular Techniques Squadron could be tough to discern. They exist throughout the twenty fourth Particular Operations Wing and subsequently throughout the 724th Particular Techniques Group. The nomenclature of the Airforce’s particular operations power construction could be fairly tough to navigate, possible by design. Just like how SEAL Workforce 6’s title was initially meant to confuse Soviet intelligence. The twenty fourth additionally exists alongside a collection of different particular techniques squadrons, all of that are composed of particular operations airmen. Nevertheless, solely the twenty fourth STS serves to enhance and allow the assorted particular mission items inside JSOC.

There are two main operational jobs throughout the twenty fourth Particular Techniques Squadron: Pararescue Jumpers (PJs) and Fight Management Groups (CCTs).

3.1.1. Pararescue Jumpers: That Others Could Reside

Donning a maroon beret, PJs aka Inexperienced Toes can fulfil quite a lot of roles inside Airforce particular operations. As specialists in downed personnel restoration, they conduct each fight and humanitarian missions primarily relying on which squadron they’re assigned to. Nevertheless, throughout the twenty fourth STS, they primarily fill the position of a fight medic with a extremely various talent set.

Maroon beret with a PJ flash.
The maroon beret worn by PJs. (Supply)

Medics are sometimes briefly provide, even in standard items. A medical emergency or a household disaster can imply {that a} crew of operators now not have a medic. Alternatively, particular mission items would possibly wish to bolster their medical capabilities with an additional hand or with a medic who has a extra various talent set than what they’ve integral to them. 

PJs prepare quite a lot of medical expertise not widespread for standard or particular operations medics. They’re educated to make use of extraction gadgets like hydraulic extrication rescue instruments aka the “jaws of life” and round saws. PJs prepare in high-angle and aquatic rescue within the occasion that somebody is injured in water or extraordinarily tough terrain. Moreover, they’ll present casualty care far past what even essentially the most superior particular operations medics can.

PJs climbing a ladder from the water into a helicopter.
PJs from the twenty third Particular Techniques Squadron boarding a Black Hawk through a ladder. (Supply PJ Pipeline
  • Primary Coaching – 8 Weeks
  • Particular Warfare Prep Course – 8 Weeks
  • Particular Warfare Evaluation and Choice – 4 Weeks
  • Particular Warfare Pre-Dive Course – 4 Weeks
  • Particular Warfare Fight Dive Course – 5 Weeks
  • Airborne Faculty – 5 Weeks
  • Army Free-Fall Course – 4 Weeks
  • Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape Coaching – 3 Weeks
  • Pararescue EMT-Primary Course – 7 Weeks
  • Pararescue EMT-Paramedic Course – 30 Weeks
  • Pararescue Apprentice Course – 22 Weeks

The pipeline to even turning into a PJ is a protracted and gruelling one. From begin to end it takes slightly below two years for a brand new recruit to finish the pipeline and that’s assuming they don’t maintain any harm or fail any of the programs. It’s not publicly obtainable information what the necessities are for a PJ to have the ability to be assigned to the twenty fourth STS. It might be luck however it’s greater than possible a mixture of expertise and an extra pipeline that’s shorter but much more tough than their preliminary one.

3.1.2. Fight Controllers: First There

Fight controllers make up the majority of particular warfare airmen throughout the twenty fourth STS. CCTs serve a function that isn’t integral to any particular mission unit. Fight controllers have many roles, they’re FAA-certified air visitors controllers which means that they’ll talk and coordinate with pleasant plane within the battle house offering clearance to land, loiter, and move by. Moreover, they’re Joint Terminal Assault Management (JTAC) certified, permitting them to name in fireplace missions and air strikes from the bottom belongings and air belongings that they’re controlling.

Scarlet beret with CCT flash.
Scarlet beret worn by CCTs. (Supply)

CCTs assigned to the twenty fourth STS could be hooked up to any of the opposite particular mission items inside JSOC. They’re most frequently seen alongside DEVGRU and Delta Pressure. Nevertheless, CCTs have been recognized to serve alongside the Regimental Reconnaissance Firm and certain help the opposite, much less kinetic components of JSOC as wanted.

John Chapman standing near mud walls with a SEAL recce rifle.
Medal of Honor recipient Grasp Sergeant John Chapman, KIA whereas serving as a CCT with DEVGRU. (Supply) CCT Pipeline
  • Primary Coaching – 8 Weeks
  • Particular Warfare Prep Course – 8 Weeks
  • Particular Warfare Evaluation and Choice – 4 Weeks
  • Particular Warfare Pre-Dive Course – 4 Weeks
  • Particular Warfare Fight Dive Course – 5 Weeks
  • Airborne Faculty – 5 Weeks
  • Army Free-Fall Course – 4 Weeks
  • Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape Coaching – 3 Weeks
  • Air Site visitors Management – 11 Weeks
  • Fight Management Apprentice Course – 8 Weeks
  • Particular Techniques Coaching – 24 Weeks

4. Techniques, Methods, and Procedures (TTP)

4.1. Airfield Reconnaissance, Evaluation and Management

Regardless of the US’s frequent use of plane carriers for air energy projection, the US nonetheless operationally depends on usable airfields. These turn out to be particularly necessary for speedy troop mobilization and humanitarian efforts, involving bigger cargo and transport planes. Finding, controlling and even establishing such airfields is among the duties of the twenty fourth. Numerous airmen, officers, and floor operators safe and preserve a safe presence round these airfields. (Supply) Their covert operational nature permits them to quietly set up a presence earlier than extra largescale forces arrive.

4.2. Personnel Restoration and Triage

Among the many many expert members of the twenty fourth Particular Techniques Squadron, there exists a lot of medical and rescue specialists. Because the twenty fourth is able to delivering forces shortly, their skill to recuperate and exfiltrate makes them an distinctive rescue power. Along with triage and extraction

4.3. Joint Terminal Assault Management/Fireplace Assist

JTACs help serve the crucial position of being the guiding hand for shut air help for floor forces. (Supply) Via their work, JSOC is ready to extra successfully administer its coordinated fight efforts. Members of the twenty fourth should handle incoming data from their fellow troopers, and develop fireplace options through allied air forces.

JTACS calling in air support in the desert.
JTAC members working alongside an A-10 Thunderbolt. Picture through Mike Killian Images (Supply)

4.4. Direct Fight Assist

The twenty fourth’s capabilities are constructed for specialised help and operations alongside different forces. On the similar time, they’re simply as able to direct fight motion. Their personnel at occasions connect to forces that have energetic fight, making them required to help in restricted fight. twenty fourth Particular Techniques Squadron members have participated in direct fight in practically all their deployments, demonstrating their variability. (Supply).

5. twenty fourth Particular Techniques Squadron Gear and Weaponry

The twenty fourth Particular Techniques Squadron makes use of quite a lot of weapons, gear and programs to realize its aims. Their weapons could also be much less various than different arsenals, however they nonetheless serve a necessary position. Their communications and radio gear are the perfect of the perfect, permitting them to quickly and precisely coordinate aerial operations. 

24th Special Tactics Squadron operator adjusting his goggles.
twenty fourth Particular Techniques Squadron operator with full package and tactical gear. Picture through (Supply)

5.1. Weapons

When a fight controller of the twenty fourth wants to have interaction in direct fight, they want the required firearms. Weapons that many US particular operations forces use are sometimes utilized by the twenty fourth as effectively. 

The M4 and its variants are utilized by quite a lot of AFSOC groups. The twenty fourth maintains this weapon as a normal assault rifle for his or her tactical groups. Usually, operators from the twenty fourth STS will use the identical weapons because the items they’re embedded with. For instance, CCTs assigned to DEVGRU will use HK 416s with a purpose to assist mix with the unit. Protruding in a fight zone makes you look necessary and searching necessary is an efficient method to get killed. Moreover, CCTs working alongside Delta Pressure have been seen utilizing the Low Visibility Assault Weapon (LVAW) (Supply).

24 STS CCT with an HK 416 in full kit.
twenty fourth STS operator with an HK 416. Picture retrieved through DEVTSIX. (Supply)

Different weapons serve the needs of the twenty fourth reminiscent of long-range weapons. These embrace DMRs such because the MK-20 Mod 0 (an accurized model of the Mk 17 aka the Scar H), SR 25s/M110s, and a lot of totally different precision rifles.

5.2. Gear

For assaulters in items like DEVGRU and Delta Pressure, their main weapon is their carbines. Nevertheless, for the CCTs embedded inside these items their most necessary weapon is their radios. Radios function the first type of communication between members of the twenty fourth on the bottom and the air forces they coordinate with. They primarily use two totally different radio varieties, the smaller handheld PRC-152, and the bigger extra cumbersome PRC-117G (Supply).

5.2.1. PRC-152

For the sake of mobility, lots of the fight controllers and communications officers will carry with them a PRC-152. This radio employs the Soldier Radio Waveform (SRW) and options ad-hoc, self-healing and adaptive networking capabilities (Supply). This helps troopers and operators preserve communication capabilities whereas on the transfer. 

Front and profile view of a PRC 152.
PRC 152 with out antenna hooked up. (Supply)

5.2.2. PRC-117G

The 152s bigger brother, the 117G, serves the aim of being the bigger job power radio for not solely particular forces but in addition normal US, and NATO forces. Whereas not as transportable, it options integration with SATCOM, shortwave and longwave communications and a lot of simultaneous transmission capabilities (Supply). These options are key to the twenty fourth STS, as fixed communication with a number of teams is considered one of their core competencies. 

Marines using a radio in the desert with trucks in the background.
U. S. Marine Corps Radio Operators utilizing the PRC-117. Photograph by CWO3 Benn Barr, 1st Marine Division Fight Digicam (Supply)

5.3 Autos

The twenty fourth makes use of quite a lot of automobiles, each in direct and oblique methods, within the area. As a result of they use such quite a lot of plane of their deployments, it’s exhausting to cowl the breadth of all of the automobiles they make the most of. Nevertheless, extra notable transport plane utilized by the twenty fourth embrace the Blackhawk, Pave Hawk and the MD-530G. The A-10 Thunderbolt is among the most typical US fixed-wing plane for shut air help missions.

5.3.1. The Hawks of the twenty fourth

The Black Hawk is often utilized by the twenty fourth and the groups it’s embedded with. (Supply) As a Multi-Mission helicopter, its robust and customizable design permits it to serve a myriad of roles. This completely matches the adaptable necessities of the twenty fourth STS. Its spinoff model, the Pave Hawk, serves the twenty fourth much more immediately.

Although in fewer numbers than the Black Hawk, the HH-60G Pave Hawk options upgraded communications, a navigation suite, and built-in communications and world positioning. (Supply) It’s used as the first rescue and personnel restoration for the Air Pressure. The twenty fourth is often the rescue power for any particular operations evacuation, and the Pave Hawk serves as a superb devoted rescue and help plane for PJs.

Pave hawk hovering over pine trees.
Sikorsky HH-60G Pave Hawk transport Air Pressure personnel. Picture through DVIDS by Airman 1st Class Eugene Oliver. (Supply)

The MD-530G, a lightweight scout helicopter, is utilized by Air Pressure particular operation forces in addition to the twenty fourth STS throughout some operations. The helicopter is used as a reconnaissance scout, shut air help craft and/or mild transport. (Supply)

5.3.2. Shut Air Assist

As famous earlier than, as a result of quantity of plane that the twenty fourth STS coordinates with, it is rather tough to seize your entire breadth of all plane the group might make the most of. Nevertheless, given their look ceaselessly alongside standard US forces and throughout the areas of operation the twenty fourth has appeared in, the A-10 Thunderbolt and the AC-130 Specter Gunship are significantly noteworthy.

The A-10 serves as shut air help and depends on coordination from teams just like the twenty fourth to information their strikes. They’ll hit floor targets with a variety of ordnance, together with their signature front-mounted GAU-8/A cannon (Supply).

A10s flying in formation over fields.
Two A10s flying in formation. (Supply)

The AC-130 is the US’s most adaptable and highly effective shut air help gunship and has served alongside US particular forces excellently. Although what number of occasions the twenty fourth STS has personally coordinated with an AC-130 is unknown, it serves particular operations forces world wide and requires essentially the most superior coordination crew. Within the area, every time a detachment of the twenty fourth STS finds themselves with a Spectre above them, they would be the main type of communication and connection to it.

AC 130 spectre gunship flying towards camera.
AC-130H Spectre Gunship. (Supply)

6. Notable Operations of the twenty fourth Particular Techniques Squadron

The total breadth of the twenty fourth Particular Techniques Squadron’s operations is tough to know. There are a number of deployments the place the presence of the twenty fourth Particular Techniques Squadron has been confirmed. These most notably embrace the US Invasion of Panama, Operation Restore Hope, the Battle of Mogadishu and normal ops in the course of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

6.1. Operation Simply Trigger

The twenty fourth STS obtained a lot of commendations in the course of the invasion of Panama (Supply). Although the operations they performed in-country are usually not recognized, they possible operated embedded with assaulting items and personnel rescue.

Buildings burning with destroyed cars on the street.
Fireplace because of fight throughout Operation Simply Trigger. (Supply)

6.2. Battle of Mogadishu

Whereas working alongside a lot of JSOC forces in the course of the US Invasion of Somalia, the twenty fourth STS served a useful position in each direct help and personnel rescue. Three members specifically, Timothy Wilkison, Scott Fales and Jefferey Bray, all assigned to the twenty fourth served extraordinarily admirably in each search and rescue and HVT seize (Supply).

Their utilization on this operation is an illustration of their devoted talent in airpower coordination. The overwhelming majority of the Battle of Mogadishu concerned the utilization of a lot of Black Hawks. Pave Hawks and MD-530Gs additionally assisted in coordination with floor forces. The twenty fourth would function the perfect of the perfect for such an operation.

6.3. Afghanistan and Iraq

There’s not an distinctive quantity recognized about all of the operations of the twenty fourth in the course of the Invasion of Iraq. There have been nonetheless some seen facets of their presence. Alongside Delta Pressure operators and different US mixed armed forces, the twenty fourth STS assisted in a lot of operations. These operations included Operation Iraqi Freedom, the place Scott Sather, a twenty fourth STS fight controller died. (Supply)

Inside Afghanistan, the twenty fourth STS performed a lot of counter-terrorism operations alongside different US forces. The twenty fourth assisted Process Pressure 145 of their mission to search out, repair, and end terrorist chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. (Supply)  The twenty fourth additionally operated immediately with DEVGRU  in addition to Delta power. Wherever both of those two particular mission items was deployed it was nearly assured that some aspect of the twenty fourth STS was alongside them.

6.3.1. John Chapman

Early within the struggle in Afghanistan a fight controller named John Chapman was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on the battle of Takur Ghar. It was the primary time actions ensuing within the Medal of Honor had been ever caught on footage.

Chapman was a CCT hooked up to DEVGRU for a mission within the mountains of Afghanistan. When the SEALs and Chapman landed they shortly got here underneath superior enemy fireplace. An operator from DEVGRU was killed and Chapman was wounded by machine gun fireplace. Chapman sustained grave accidents whereas clearing an enemy bunker. Finally, the Navy SEALs retreated attributable to sustaining important casualties, unknowingly leaving the nonetheless alive Chapman, for useless. 

Chapman ultimately regained consciousness and instantly started participating the enemy, together with in hand-to-hand fight as a number of insurgents charged the bunker. As a QRF power in a helicopter got here to rescue the SEALs and Chapman, insurgents started to shift their fireplace to the QRF. 

Recognizing this, Chapman exited the bunker and started to re-engage the insurgents. The QRFs helicopter was struck by an RPG and made a managed touchdown under the summit the place Chapman was nonetheless preventing. As members of the seventy fifth Ranger Regiment poured out of the helicopter Chapman continued to offer overlaying fireplace. Sadly, just a few of the Ranger was killed as they exited the plane. Nevertheless, his actions saved each the QRF power and the lives of the SEALs.

Picture of a painting of Rangers assaulting up a mountain with a crash Chinook in the background.
Artist rendition of the QRF assaulting up the mountain after the crash. (Supply)

6.3.2. Medal of Honor

In the end John Chapman sustained over 16 bullet and shrapnel wounds whereas on the mountain prime. His physique was recovered with only some rounds nonetheless in his magazines. Chapman continued to battle till his dying, solely stopping when an enemy’s spherical pierced his coronary heart. For his actions, Chapman was eligible for 2 Medals of Honor. Nevertheless, it might take 16 years for him to be awarded one, due largely to the Navy SEALs’ makes an attempt to dam his Medal of Honor. Awarding him the medal could be each an admission of failure and that they left a comrade to die as they retreated. Nevertheless, in 2018 he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his selfless actions on that Afghan mountain prime.

John Chapman in dress uniform.
John A. Chapman, 1985 – 2002. (Supply)

7. Way forward for the twenty fourth STS

The way forward for the twenty fourth Particular Techniques Squadron is considered one of nearly inevitable function and progress. As airpower continues to develop in its complexity with the addition of high-precision guided munitions, unmanned aerial automobiles and fifth era plane, so too will the US’s demand for devoted and extremely specialised air forces. The distinctive talent set of bridging the hole between air forces and ground-based particular operations forces will likely be more and more precious and can see the twenty fourth STS turn out to be more and more necessary.