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AFSOC Crew Selection Process

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As Skip Davenport has said, "I was in special op's, before special op's was cool!" My sentiments exactly. I was told that my career would be ruined when I went into special operations, and.........really didn't care. It was where I wanted to be, because I was "invited" to come aboard. I have never, nor will I ever regret the experience!

Big Blue wants AFSOC to be a command like every other command, and I see great dismay with this outlook; and what is to come. In my humble opinion, AFSOC crews should "pay their dues" and gain experience before APPLYING for an AFSOC assignment. For example:

Fixed Wing= 1,500 hrs. in C130 variants.

Rotary Wing= 1,000 hrs.

Flt. Eng.= same as pilots

Load Mstrs.= 1,000 hrs. in C130 variants

CSO= 1,000 hrs. in C130 variants, or 500 to

1,000 for EWO position

I'm sure this will jerk some chains out there, but I'm entitled to my opinion.

Any comments?

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Your right! and this to be learned lesson applies to a lot of other places as well. You dont want people that think they just have a right to be there without proving themselves first. Without it, they are dragging everyone else down.

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Kurt, you are so right! I worked C-130 Maintenance for about ten years...from refule/tow team to heavy maintenance for combat damaged Herks at TSN then on to Quality Control for a couple of years...I had a real ass kisser boss at Pope QC shop and after he went out and signed off a couple of my Red X's, as he did not wnat to make the sqdn look bad....

I quit maintenance and went off to Sewart AFB to be a FE...Hell I knew this plane inside and out, this would be a breeze! Hah, did I ever get a humbling eye opener...found out quick that I didn't know twit abut the plane.....

Ther is no doubt in my mind that all FEs should have maintenance experiance and then go th FE school....then after about 1000 hours apply for SOC.

No way should inexperiance pe placed in any of those "SPECIAL" positions.

My entire flight experiance was in trash hauling and drops. Never in SOC.

Muff

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We've chatted about this on several occasions. I believe AFSOC is growing too big, too quickly, and there is no selection process anymore. My belief is they're bucking for that 4th star and it will continue the downward spiral in capability begun when we became a 3-star command.

They've decided the manning goal is to be 70% "experienced". What does that mean? In our Vol 1 (training reg), we've followed ACC's lead and gone to experienced-based training. As an "experienced" guy, I only have to do 2 TF sorties in a semi-annual. The less experienced guys do more. I recall in slicks there was a time when CP did 125% of the requirements, AC did 100%, and IP did 75%, (but that pre-dates me) so this is similar. In fact, apart from the few events that still have a currency, I can log all of my semi-annual training events in a single sortie as an FTL-A (or "highly" experienced) guy - preposterous (and I do NOT consider myself "highly" experienced - especially when compared to the level of training we formerly had).

So, what constitutes an experienced crewmember? 1000 total time and 300 PAA time. This is the middle, or FTL-B (Flight Training Level) and is what everything is based on - flying hours, PFT for the schoolhouse, funding, manning, etc. It is the single most important number in any of our books because this is what AFPC and AFSOC/A1 (personnel) looks at to determine everything. Yet, it's BS. This is a good CP, not an experienced pilot.

I proposed 1500 total, 750 PAA, and at least 1000hrs in a plane with a low-level mission (for us low-level guys) at the last Vol 1 re-write conference. Everyone agreed in principle, yet nobody wanted to do anything. Sickening.

Another challenge nobody seems to have noticed is we lost about 30% of our flying hours after 9/11. We were busy flying combat missions - and still are to a large extent. But the problem is, we're not doing our primary mission any longer (nor are we allowed to, for the most part), so these are "hollow" hours that don't count for much. Couple this to the 30% fewer hours at home and what loses out as continuation training. Some leadership is even proposing getting rid of capability since we're not currently using it downrange and it's hard to maintain back home...crazy.

This is why we are where we are. That, and this ridiculously rapid expansion. Remember, one of the SOF truths is you can't mass produce SOF.

Edited by US Herk

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I spent allot of Time as an Flight Engineer in Spec ops ( AC-130H) and at the School house there . When we would get guys from other aircraft and that had low time , they would wash out of school or they had a very hard time trying to get the concept of Spec ops and what we really do out there. There needs to be a PAA time for people coming in and the Pipe line thing just doesn't work that well. You really need to have a good grasp on the Herk before you add more stuff to the Basic bird.

Archie

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Guest

Although I wasn't assigned to the unit, I once knew of a special outfit with 4 'E' models that required all flight crew members to be well seasoned, and interviews were by recommendation only. Maintenance and support personnel selections began with 7 levels. They also had a very high priority for parts and supplies.

I occasionally saw a a copy of the monthly logistics report, and these guys were typically in the upper 90 percentile for in-commission rates.

It really does make a difference......

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And to the valiant maintenance crew's........my sincere apologies for omitting your SKILLED profession on my posting. There needs to be an element of experience as well. Being a nav, I have to ask the maintenance community as to what they feel is necessary for AFSOC. Please advise.

I'm very proud of all of the "wrench turners" and "tweakers" out there!

Kurt

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As an old TF RADAR tech on the Blackbirds, I will attest that I was definitely glad the crews were seasoned when we were skimming above the tree tops and through the mountain valleys in and around Greece.

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Guest

As an old TF RADAR tech on the Blackbirds, I will attest that I was definitely glad the crews were seasoned when we were skimming above the tree tops and through the mountain valleys in and around Greece.

Tiny,

I remember a few of the words in one of Joe Shelton's songs, something about "TFR and a good pitch bar...."

Were you there about the same time?

John

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Tiny,

I remember a few of the words in one of Joe Shelton's songs, something about "TFR and a good pitch bar...."

Were you there about the same time?

John

I haven't crawled around a Talon in seven years, need to schedule a trip up to Duke ...

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I see the experience fight is still ongoing. I remember a conference before AFSOC. We were Little Black MAC (23AF). We were told from "those" supposedly in the know that pilot crewmember experience was 300 hours in PAA. At the time I think the 8SOS numbers were running around 500 to 600. When you subtracted Korver's 4000+, my 5000+ Flame and Winters with 3500+ hours each the averages went to below 200. It was agreed that each SQ could handel one pilot and one Nav/Ewo right out of basic flight training every other year. The E's established there own criteria. But I think it was one tour in a slick C-130 Squadron and 1000 total hours Herk time. The process would be by an application/interview sort of like DELTA. Everyone also had to have a Squadron DO/CC recommendation. Back then the DO/CC's didn't want to loose there good "experienced" people so we didn't get many recommendations and the personnel pukes never did buy off on our proposed requirements.

Don't get me wrong as we did get some very good crewmembers with little to no experience -- Lutz was the first. Some did very well some did not and some did not enjoy the mission or the "lack" of control. Back then I as a AC could take a crew all the way around the world and never have to check in with a command post to see what time I was to wake up the next day and what I was supposed to do. We were given the responsibility to carry out the mission we were given and briefed within the parameters and capabilities of the aircraft and IAW the rules of engagement.

Edited by Skip Davenport

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Tiny,

I remember a few of the words in one of Joe Shelton's songs, something about "TFR and a good pitch bar...."

Were you there about the same time?

John

We got passed the V8 RADAR system in 1979 from Doppler shop. Worked on it off and on until I left in '81.

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FWIW, I don't view the experience requirements as "paying dues" necessarily, rather, being able to have enough air sense and SA to conduct the AFSOC mission.

That said, the few slick crewmembers we are getting are not what they once were (nor is AFSOC, this isn't rock-throwing). Gone are the days of the FE having to fly supervised for his first 100hrs - the schoolhouse is enough. Gone are the days of proficient low-level crews - they go currency to currency & fly hi-level trash hauling downrange. Gone (for the most part) are mission hackers - now it's the big-MAC entitlement mentality (good hotels, per diem hounds, etc).

We washed out an FE for GK and he was an IF in slicks.

We should've washed out a 1500hr slick AC (with that many hours, you wonder why he wasn't an IP).

We've washed out Navs for lack of low-level navigation ability.

Sad, really.

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You are correct "paying dues" isn't experience and more importantly where "attitude" and wanting to be in SOF is. I can remember, AC's, Nav's, FE's & LM's that just didn't want to be in SOF. They didn't believe in the mission and more importantly (my opinion) were just mortified (scared Sh##less) with the low level aspect 250ft TFR at night and later with NVG's. They always found ways "why" we couldn't do the mission (the mother may I attitude) vs being pro-active in finding ways for how we could do the mission. My mother always told me that if there is nothing that say's we "can't" do something then we CAN! More importantly I believed and believe that is exactly what was and is expected of SOF aircrews -- the attitude and can do to figure out a way to do vs not do the mission. Think back to na sayers -- we can't fly 250 ft at night in the weather, we can't air drop at 250ft/250 knots, we can't land on NVG's just to name a few. In SOF you have to believe and more importantly you have to stand up and look and move forward. You must never fall into the pitfall of this is the way we have always done it therefor it must be the correct way.

Edited by Skip Davenport

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You are correct "paying dues" isn't experience and more importantly where "attitude" and wanting to be in SOF is. I can remember, AC's, Nav's, FE's & LM's that just didn't want to be in SOF. They didn't believe in the mission and more importantly (my opinion) were just mortified (scared Sh##less) with the low level aspect 250ft TFR at night and later with NVG's. They always found ways "why" we couldn't do the mission (the mother may I attitude) vs being pro-active in finding ways for how we could do the mission. My mother always told me that if there is nothing that say's we "can't" do something then we CAN! More importantly I believed and believe that is exactly what was and is expected of SOF aircrews -- the attitude and can do to figure out a way to do vs not do the mission. Think back to na sayers -- we can't fly 250 ft at night in the weather, we can't air drop at 250ft/250 knots, we can't land on NVG's just to name a few. In SOF you have to believe and more importantly you have to stand up and look and move forward. You must never fall into the pitfall of this is the way we have always done it therefor it must be the correct way.

Sadly, we are now a mother-may-I command - you get castrated for initiative, they've emasculated the AC, and many crewmembers are in it because "it's cool" - also a good way to get promoted. The prescriptive vs proscriptive evaluation of the regs is still raging with the majority believing that if it doesn't say we can, we can't. :mad: I tell folks to always interpret rules to best suit your needs - find a way to do it & make it happen.

But it's a vicious downward spiral - younger crew forces means commanders are less willing to give them any rope. Lower experience levels means crews aren't comfortable doing things they can. Recently caught a ride with a crew of a different AFSOC MDS. They had an ignition control relay issue. It had rained hard over the two or three previous days, so I told him to just crank it up with the CB and let it get good and warm - it'd probably dry itself out. He didn't want to do that. So I told the AC to just put the jumper plug on it & let's get going. He initially said he wasn't allowed to do that. So I borrowed my FE's HERP guide and showed him where he was specifically allowed to do that. Then he said he'd never heard of that & was going to call his DO. Really? OK. The DO basically said, if it says you can, you can - get the plane home. I was incredulous. But it's not his fault, it's an experience thing (his FE actually seemed embarrassed he didn't think of it, but was very young himself).

Last year we had a starter shit the bed at an out field. We called back & actually got permission to do a windmill (in AETC!!), so MX worked feverishly to pull & pad the starter. I was in the left seat, but didn't have the A-code (I was on to give an AC upgrade eval, but we pulled the stud out of the left seat, so the A-code was in the right seat). I asked the AC if he'd ever done one for real. He said no, so I told him to swap seats with me as I'd done a couple and besides, he was the A-code. MX buttoned it up just as "official" sunset occurred. Now the AC was hemming and hawing about "day" VFR - it was still broad daylight, effectively. We were on a 12000' x 150' RWY. In my best "always interpret rules to best suit your needs", I pointed out that Ch 9 was titled "Training Restrictions" and we were doing a real windmill. No dice. We RONed in place and they trucked a starter to us. The AC just wasn't willing to "take that risk".

That's the environment we're in. Granted, it's going to be a little bit more conservative here in AETC (ATC for us older guys), but still, we're SOF. We're mission hackers. We're Talons.

Oh well, I get to return operational in May. Two years and I'm about done with my 20...

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What is this new age C130 crews comming to. I had to start an engine with a small length of saftey wire in the middle of no where in Alaska I just did it didn't ask no body just did it. In Vietam we had a bypass plug we carried in our tool bag for the same purpose. If we needed to do a buddy start or a windmill taxie start we did.That was back in the 1960 & 70's. I hate to think that the crews we have now does not have the knowledge and the confidence to do the same thing.

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Yeah, and I blame the current command struture as well as lack of experience in the cockpit. Now days it seems to be a "one mistake" air farce. One misstep whether it was a mistake or initiative taken (mission hacking), contrary to what Stan/Eval says is allowable and you are marked as a problem child. This applies to the commanders as well. One mistake on thier watch and they will never see eagles and they will not take that chance so no initiative or free thinking. How do you think G.O. 1 came to being? Someone didn't want to trust his people to show responsibility.

Mike

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Am I wrong ? But I seem to remember a windmill and buddy start where part of the AC upgrade program back in the old days. I remember pulling and pading a starter in Turkey while on ROTE and I don't remember anyone even asking, we did it to get the bird home and I do remember an "attaboy" from the ops officer, of course one "oh shit" whipped out all "attaboys". Still got my crooked starter/generator wrench that my first instructor and I made at the hobby shop.

I think when I went to Gunships 500 hours was minimun time for FE's, which isn't much, just enough to be dangerous.

Mike

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It's still part of AC upgrade, but only in the sim. Except in AFSOC, we still do 'em in the plane.

That's another problem, they're moving all training to the sim. It just isn't the same, no matter how good the sim is (and most aren't that good). LRF is doing a small group tryout where their pilots will do 100% of their qual/instm training in the sim. In theory, a pilot could leave LRF having never landed the plane!

AFSOC is pushing more and more training to sims too. But the sim cannot replicate the aircraft, the environment (fog/friction of ATC, other traffic, etc.), or seat of the pants feel. Consequently, we have pilots who "fly the numbers" OK, but can't feel the plane worth a damn and consequently, fly uncoordinated, don't know how to judge changes (ie - heading rollouts, altitude captures, etc), no feel for approach to stall, sink, slip, skids - nothing.

So a subpar quality product to the units who are strapped for hours, so seasoning never really occurs. On the O side, we've accellerated promotion to Major by 2.5yrs and it's taking longer to produce instructors. Typically, about the time we get a decent IP, it's time for him to go to school/staff. Consequently, you have a bunch of young, inexperienced guys, a few old guys with a decent experience level, but very few in between. We have few good captains anymore...

Although I wasn't in AFSOC (or 23AF) at the time, I'm all for bringing back the low promotion rates and making guys just fly their entire careers - you'll attract the guys that really WANT to be there, the guys that judge a successful career by how many hours they have and what they've done, the guys that can get the mission done.

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I remember going through my first sim at Wright-Patterson for the C-118 so very long ago. We were standing in the back watching. The instructors gave the crew a failed engine on takeoff but the crew never said anything. After takeoff the instructor FE asked the grizzled old FE what about the engine failure? The guy looked around and said it was instrument failure since he didn't hear or feel anything.

When a new sim was delivered to LRF back in the early 80s, we (IPs and IFEs from the schoolhouse) had a chance to fly it once it was up and running (no visual was installed), it did feel somewhat like being in the actual aircraft with the way it sounded and swayed during taki, and when you were parked it trembled like a plane does with the engines running and the brakes set.

But a sim could never replace actual stick time for the pilots, or position time for the FE.

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Things have changed the last 30+yrs.

Who remembers Hurbie being a TAC base? (Talk about no money) TAC Reg 55-130 was about 1/4" thick. My Commander wore those shiney low quarters and his wheel hat to fly, thankfully, he sat in the booth.

Then we became MAC, what fun. We got the the New York City phone book AKA MAC reg 55-130.

The late 80s were fun though, JRTs, Hotels, rental cars, and this ancient thing called per-diem. (Never did find my flip-flop I lost in that ditch next to the hotel in Pooler GA)

Then Strat-MAC showed up with cases and cases of black spray paint. Went downhill from there. "Apparently all you need to be Special Ops is a can of black spray paint"

Then we became AFSOC. We thought our troubles were over. We were sittin in tall cotton. It was so tall we couldn't see what was coming.

We did have Special Ops MOPP level 4 which was when you were wearing your Oakleys, black gortex, Danners, Eagle holster and carrying your Sporty's bag.

Then.... Big Blue(spit) came knocking. It was the end of days.

The way I got into gunships was meeting Gunner Jack on the Kimche Bus at Osan back in 78. Hows that for a resume?

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Then.... Big Blue(spit) came knocking. It was the end of days.

I think we sold our souls to become a 3-star command...we'll sell it again to become a 4-star command (that's what all this growth is about).

When the AFSOC/DO says, out loud and in public, "There's not a JFACC in the world who's going to let you go in alone, unarmed, and unafraid, so you might as well get on board" it's really time to be concerned - SOF doesn't work for the JFACC...

When the AFSOC/CC says, "We now have a seat at the right-hand of God (referring to CSAF) so we need to get on board" it's past time to be concerned.

Things have changed indeed. After the Albania crash (which was 4 yrs ago yesterday - salute to fallen comrades), we had the bottom up reveiw panel (BURP) across all units & MDSs. With a unified voice, everyone told the AFSOC/CC our regs are screwed up, our experience levels are dwindling, and there is no selection process. Guess what's been done in the last 4 years to address those problems? Zero. Zip. Nada. Yet we have control over each of these issues if we only wanted to, or were willing to. I take that back, we have done something - we've taken authority away from the lower levels and moved approvals to higher levels. We've created a micro-managed society where everyone is afraid to make a decision because they can't get in trouble if they don't make the wrong decision. This crosses all boundaries - SNCOs - Airmen & Cols to Lts.

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I have never, nor will I ever have any respect for the limp d--k's of whom:

1) Can't make a decision.

2) Are scared to make a decision.

3) Will not stand behind their decision.

It may not be the right decision, but at least they MADE A DECISION. That is leadership; and it is sad when the one's who 'make a decision" are the folks that get passed over and/or get into trouble.

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