The Gunship American Special Forces Use To Fight Terror

“Let’s face it: U.S. special operations forces in general are going to be engaged with violent extremist organizations for some time,” Lieutenant General Bradley Heithold, the new commander of Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) told a small group of reporters recently.

That statement seemed to be reinforced at the Pentagon last week, when Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, suggested that U.S. special operations forces may be needed to advise and assist Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in their battle with ISIS in Anbar Province. U.S. teams are currently based out of Baghdad and Irbil. And while U.S. SOF ground forces are involved in advising and assisting the Iraqi forces, Air Force Special Operations AC-130 gunships are among the combat aircraft striking ISIS in support of those Iraqi Security Forces.

In fact, Lt. Gen. Heithold said as much at the Air Force Association in late September, when asked how much AFSOC was involved in the conflict with ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

“Well, I can’t say specifically. I don’t want to divulge operations like types of aircraft and numbers of aircraft and people, but suffice it to say, when you have a campaign against a violent extremist organization — which this is — when you think of the nature of that conflict over there and you think about special operations forces, you’ve got to think that we have a piece of the action,” Heithold said.

“Air Force Special Operations Command is involved, but for me to share specifics is probably not smart for any of us. The capabilities that I bring to the fight are applicable to this particular effort against ISIL,” Heithold added.