This is partially because the Marine Corps, like the Navy, simply can't afford or justify dedicated aviation SOF units given the small overall size of MARSOC, but there is another reason for this. There are no classes during the summer months; from June to mid-August. Civil Affairs units help military commanders by working with civil authorities and civilian populations in the commander’s area of operations to lessen the impact of military operations on them during peace, contingency operations and declared war. Providing aerial support for America’s Tier One special operations warriors: the 160th SOAR! The Army's contribution in this regard is the 160th SOAR. I explained that most Navy helicopter pilots in the Mideast were on ships and that the raid at its closest point to the ocean was well over 700 miles "feet dry," so the logical solution was to use the Army helicopters and pilots that were already there in Afghanistan or were familiar with the operation and the area it was going to take place. The Marine Corps has no aviation squadrons assigned exclusively to MARSOC, neither active duty or reserves. Every day, Special Forces Soldiers remain deployed around the world, living up to their motto: Learn more at In terms of ASE, Navy helicopters are equipped with the standard suite of chaff and flare dispensers, Infra-Red Guided Missile Countermeasures (IRCM), Radar Warning Receivers (RWR), but when upgrades become available, they are typically last in line to get the new or upgraded equipment. You can read more about AVTEG and its associated units here.]. The answer to that question is complicated. The Cliffs Notes version is, yes, I flew a lot of training missions and exercises with SEALs, and even some real-world operations, but I spent the vast majority of my career in the Navy flying other missions. Both of these squadrons were descendants of Helicopter Attack Light (HAL) Three, the Navy's active duty helicopter squadron that supported SOF operations during the Vietnam War. The 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), abbreviated as 160th SOAR (A), is a special operations force of the United States Army that provides helicopter aviation support for general purpose forces and special operations forces. The Special Operations Recruiting Team is here to help you achieve your career goals. For longer-range SOF support missions, the fact that SOAR MH-47 Chinooks, MH-60 Blackhawks, and AFSOC CV-22 Ospreys are capable of in-flight refueling gives those platforms a much bigger radius of action. The Mod 3 Vertical Grip from Bravo Company Manufacturing features a low-profile length that... by Tactical-Life / [Editor's note: SOCOM also contains the secretive joint service Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which includes the Aviation Tactics Evaluation Group (AVTEG). Special ForcesSpecial Forces Green Berets deploy and execute nine doctrinal missions: unconventional warfare, foreign internal defense, direct action, counter-insurgency, special reconnaissance, counter terrorism, information operations, counter proliferation of WMD, and security force assistance. While the frequency of these missions varies with external factors, for all practical purposes the Navy has been conducting MIO and VBSS missions more or less continuously since 2001 in the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, the Somali Basin, the Red Sea, and the Southwest Pacific. More importantly, while their active duty crews are trained to do NSW/SOF support, that is only one of several Primary Mission Areas (PRIMARS) that they train to regularly. While both of these platforms are capable of NSW/SOF support, they were built primarily for other missions. There were a number of other pressing budget issues—the Littoral Combat Ship and Zumwalt class destroyers programs were well behind their timelines to meet performance parameters. Indeed, MARSOC did not stand up and join SOCOM until 2006, at which point the Marine FORECON community was split into two groups, with FORECON units remaining integral to the Marine Corps and the newly formed Raider Regiment and subordinate commands joining SOCOM. They can also locate civil resources to support military operations, help minimize civilian interference with operations, support national assistance activities, plan and execute non-combatant evacuation, support counter-drug operations, and establish and maintain liaison or dialogue with civilian aid agencies and civilian commercial and private organizations. The MH-6 may be configured for fast-roping and STABO (Stabilized Body) operations. At the end of the operation, the most wanted terrorist in history was dead, all the friendlies were back in Afghanistan with no casualties, and the U.S. was in possession of a treasure trove of intel taken from Bin Laden's home. Long-range, low-level penetrations are a specialty of 160th SOAR crews. The vast majority of Navy helicopter squadrons are organized into one of two "type wings"—Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC) Wing and Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) Wing—with each Wing having a Pacific Fleet and Atlantic Fleet component headquarters. Learn more at At least partially because NSWC and MARSOC are so much smaller than USASOC and AFSOC, the Navy and Marine Corps simply can't afford or justify dedicated aviation support units in their SOCOM component commands. As part of the Navy's restructuring effort of its helicopter force, these squadrons were eventually redesignated HSC-84 and HSC-85. SOCOM operators are trained to carry out a wide range of missions behind enemy lines and in dangerous circumstances. The heavy lift capability also allows the MH-47 to carry out sling operations to deliver or remove equipment. In his very first installment as a contributor here at The War Zone, veteran Navy Seahawk pilot Chris "Ox" Harmer tells us why the Navy, which is known for its incredible special operations capabilities, has little dedicated special operations airlift capacity and why Navy SEALs often spend far more time in Army or even Air Force aircraft downrange than they do in Navy ones. Among the skills covered are CQB with weapons, hand-to-hand combat, escape and evasion, survival on land and in the water, and other useful skills for personnel who will be flying dangerous missions. A spare magazine pouch carrying four magazines was carried on the opposite thigh. Naval Aviation force structure is simply not set up to provide dedicated, ongoing aviation support to SOF. Known as Night Stalkers, these Soldiers are recognized for their proficiency in nighttime operations. The small size also makes it easily deployable by transport aircraft; a C-141 can transport six Little Birds and a C-130 can transport three. The AH-6J is the light attack version of the Little Bird and can be armed with a selection of 7.62mm miniguns, 70mm rocket pods, .50-caliber machine guns, Hellfire missiles, 30mm cannons or Stinger air-to-air missiles. An enhanced MH-6M version is due to become the standard Little Bird attack helicopter by 2015. As far as its overwater capabilities go, the MH-60R is the most advanced rotary wing platform in the world. Lacking all the sonar and surveillance equipment that the MH-60R has, the MH-60S has much more internal room and carrying capacity, and has two stations for door gunners, allowing crewmen to operate machine guns simultaneously with personnel getting into/out of the aircraft. We get our closest and most dramatic look yet of the Night Stalkers in action during their high-profile exercise over Southern California. It may also be aerially refueled. This difference in equipment manifests itself most obviously in two areas—in-flight refueling and Aircraft Survivability Equipment (ASE). We know one of the aviation units that flew the helicopters was the U.S. Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) and it's possible that another, more secretive unit, the Flight Concepts Division (FCD) also participated. For all practical purposes, Naval Aviation provides no support to these campaigns at all. 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