Out of the Blue NATO SOF Air Wing
Jett, Andrew M.
Sepp, Kalev I.
Greenshields, Brian H.
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There is a critical shortfall in dedicated special operations aviation support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organizations (NATO) special operations forces (SOF). One way this shortfall can be addressed is through the procurement and sustainment of an organic NATO SOF Air Wing. In 2006, NATOs Heads of State and Governments endorsed the NATO Special Operations Forces Transformation Initiative, creating what would eventually become the NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ). NSHQ coordinates, trains, and employs NATOs special operations forces. These forces have proven invaluable in fighting asymmetric threats due to their light, lean, and agile construct, and their versatile projection of high-impact tactics, techniques, and procedures that create strategic effects. The research in this study examines NSHQs requirement for an organic Air Wing and proposes the optimal mix of aviation platforms to support NATO SOF. This optimal mix contains rotary-wing and fixed-wing aviation platforms, as well as intelligence, surveillance, targeting, and reconnaissance aircraft. This research also examines NSHQs training and readiness organizational structure, and proposes changes based on the development of an organic Air Wing. Dedicated special operations aviation support to NATO special operations forces will greatly enhance the capabilities and mission success of NATO SOF in addressing emerging security challenges.
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