American commandos from the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) have just finished a months-long training deployment in Poland, where they conducted realistic training scenarios with their Polish brethren.
The airmen were part of the 321st Special Tactics Squadron (STS), which is based in Royal Air Force Mildenhall, in the United Kingdom. The squadron is part of the 352nd Special Operations Wing.
A combat controller who took part in the exercise said that the team had been deployed to Poland months prior in order to prepare and hone other critical skills. “We’ve practiced basics of assault zones, air traffic control, completing surveys, and what we call the global-access piece,” he said.
Such skills are crucial for projecting America’s special operations (SOF) might around the globe. For example, during the initial stages of the war in Afghanistan, Special Tactics airmen were always the first to parachute behind Taliban lines in southern Afghanistan in order to access potential airfield sites.
In the event of a conflict with Russia, such skills will once again prove critical. But the 321st STS can do much more than survey and establish forward airfields. Its pararescuemen (PJs), special operations weather technicians (SOWT), and Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) airmen make the unit a versatile force and valuable asset. From top medical combat care and personnel recovery to close air support (CAS) and the gathering of critical meteorological data for mission commanders, the commandos of the 321st STS are a force to be reckoned with. Overall, the squadron is responsible for providing a quick-reaction force (QRF) able to conduct all aspects of special operations and conventional air-to-ground control missions.
With regard to the deployment to Poland, the commander of the unit said that they were there “to strengthen our already capable POLSOF allies by advising them on how we conduct special operations air-to-land integration. This will give our Polish allies the ability to survey, secure, and control an austere airfield anywhere in Poland.”
During their months in the Eastern European country, the American operators mostly trained with Polish soldiers from the JW NIL, an SOF support and supply unit responsible for intelligence gathering and providing other Polish SOF units with command and communication, logistics, and medical support.
“We are very proud of our relationship with POLSOF and other NATO allies. We look forward to building and maintaining our abilities to conduct special operations air-to-land integration in Europe as a joint and ready force,” added the commanding officer of the 321st STS.