RELEASE NUMBER: 130605-01
DATE POSTED: JUNE 5, 2013
USASOC activates flight detachment
By Maj. Emily Potter
USASOAC Public Affairs
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (June 5, 2013) – The U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command (USASOAC) hosted an activation ceremony for the U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) Flight Company (UFC) (provisional) May 29th, at Simmons Army Airfield.
The activation will allow for much needed growth, increasing the size of the former flight detachment by both personnel and airframes, enabling them to provide more support to USASOC.
As the aviation staff proponent of USASOC, USASOAC is responsible for manning, training and equipping the UFC. But as USASOAC Commanding General Brig. Gen. Clayton M. Hutmacher reiterated during the ceremony, "support for this company is universal across USASOC. Especially in this time of tough budgets, all the tribes agreed that this was a necessary requirement."
The UFC provides responsive fixed and rotary wing training support to USASOC, as well as key planner transport in support of contingency plans. Their aircraft inventory includes UH-60L Blackhawk helicopters, and CASA-212, UV-20 Porter, and C-12C fixed wing airframes.
Dave Beishline, who has been at the unit since his retirement from active duty in 1996, describes the UFC as a hybrid organization with a unique combination of equipment and missions.
"We do a little bit of everything. We have a great job taking care of USASOC personnel, and it is very fulfilling to support the command, "he said. "No other aviation unit in the Army flies the variety of missions we do."
The UFC has increased in capacity throughout the years. Current operations include supporting training requirements for the Special Warfare Center and School, averaging more than 29,000 static line paratrooper and military free fall parachutist jumps a year and conducting fixed wing support for all USASOC units in the eastern and central regions of the U.S.
The activation of the UFC will include the ability "to reach out to SOF organizations away from Fort Bragg that we can't currently support," according to UFC commander Chief Warrant Officer 5 Thomas Travis.
One example is increased support of USASOC's Military Free Fall School at Yuma Proving Grounds, AZ. Other current operations include flying the command parachute team, the Black Daggers, and Operation Toy Drop during SOF week, which according to Travis "supported 2,200 jumpers in four days from just two CASAs holding 10 jumpers each."
Retired Lt. Col. Pat O'Hara, USASOAC Deputy Chief of Staff, has been involved with the formation of the UFC for more than seven years, and still co-pilots the CASA-212 to assist with the mission load.
"The growth of personnel and aircraft will be a game changer for the unit to answer the air requirements in USASOC," he said.
This includes the new requirement to have all Green Berets qualified as free fall parachutists. This could be accomplished with replacing the aging CASA-212s with C-27Js.This upgrade, explained O'Hara, "will increase mission efficiency by allowing more jumpers at a time, reducing total flight hours, and reducing the number of landings and takeoffs. Overall, this will lead to supporting more of USASOC mission requirements which are not able to be completely serviced now."