The US Air Force Film Report, Special Air Warfare Forces (F R 426), produced by Air Photographic and Charting Service, Military Air Transport Service in 1965, shows how the Special Air Warfare Forces are structured and what they do. The film begins with a brief history of the creation and expansion of the Air Force Air Commandos (01:13), a special force designed to combat communist insurgencies throughout the world. The Air Commando force begins with the activation of 4400 Combat Crew training squadron in April 1961, and initially consists of only 32 aircraft and 360 men. In November 1961, a detachment of the squadron is sent to South Vietnam to train the South Vietnamese Army. Shortly after, the squadron size increases, and the Special Air Warfare Center (SAWC) under Tactical Air Command is established at the Eglin, Florida Air Force base. By 1964, the force expands to four tactical squadrons at Eglin, with several other squadrons stationed throughout the world. Eglin remains the force’s headquarters, where doctrines, tactics, procedures, and equipment for use in special warfare are developed (04:30). A variety of versatile aircraft is used by the Air Commandos, including modified T-28s (05:56), B-26 Ks (06:45), C-123s, C-46s, C-47s, and U-10s (07:55). Nearly all aircraft are capable of flying photo reconnaissance missions with the specially designed cameras (08:15). Air Commandos train in the use of the cameras, and they are also trained in processing photos, as each unit has its own mobile processing lab (10:46). Commandos participate in rigorous physical training, as well as in hand-to-hand combat (09:10) and weapons use—specifically with the .38 caliber revolver and the M-16 rifle. Commandos learn a practical vocabulary in either Spanish or French and study the climate and customs of the countries they’ll be assigned to. Commandos are also cross-trained in communications operations. Medics in each unit are trained in medical programs so they can not only care for their fellow soldiers, but so they can also train host governments in preventive medicine. Airlift utility crews train on land and water, becoming specialists in cargo delivery systems (14:53) using low-altitude delivery systems. Commandos and Army Special Forces frequently participate in joint exercises in unconventional warfare (15:15), training potential guerilla forces that can be dropped behind enemy lines. In Latin America, most of the Commandos’ activities are civic operations (civic action planning), aimed at deterring the outbreak of guerilla warfare (16:28). Many Latin American villages are isolated, so small runways are built by locals by airdropping instructions (17:30) and necessary tools. In only weeks, the isolated people can build a landing strip, enhancing the economic, educational, and medical conditions of their village. This allows the village students (19:30) to learn more about their country and government. Similarly, drinking water is improved for remote communities (20:08) as the Air Commandos air drop instructions and supplies for constructing wells. The most useful civic action, however, is the preventive medicine program (20:40), which is undertaken in tandem with the host government to improve the government’s standing with the local people and prevent the influence of communism. Tactical training is an important element of what SAWC offers (21:26), such as in Iran where Air Commandos and Army Special Forces train the Iranian Army in counter-insurgency operations. In South Vietnam (24:25), the South Vietnamese Air Force increases in size and effectiveness after working with a SAWC advisory group. Air Commando teams are sent all over the world as requests continue to come in from various countries, providing nations with military and civic assistance in the fight to prevent communist insurgencies.
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