Air Force

Special Operations Forces

M - Z

MacCloskey, Monro. Alert the Fifth Force: Counterinsurgency, Unconventional Warfare, and Psychological Operations of the United States Air Force in Special Air Warfare. New York: Richards Rosen, 1969.

Petersen: "Cold War focus. Covers mainly non-USAF activities. Not well regarded by some experts."

Mason, Herbert A., Jr., Randy G. Bergeron [SSGT/USA), and James A. Renfrow, Jr. [TSGT/USAFR] Operation Thursday: Birth of the Air Commandos. The U.S. Army Air Force in World War II. Washington, DC: Air Force History and Museums Program, 1994.

From publisher: "On March 5-6, 1944, the Allies conducted an air invasion of Burma, in an attempt to push back the Japanese in the China-Burma-India Theater and reestablish the land route between India and China. U.S. Airmen formed a special operations unit -- the 1st Air Commando Group -- to transport troops to jungle locations and resupply them, often in the line of fire."

McKinney, Mike [MAJ/USAF], and Mike Ryan. Chariots of the Damned: Helicopter Special Operations from Vietnam to Kosovo. New York: Thomas Dunne, 2002.

From publisher: The authors "investigate the origins of the [Air Force] Special Operations Group and the experience of early rescue missions in Vietnam." The book covers from the "disaster at Desert 1 to the Gulf War, Bosnia and the tragedy in Somalia." Taylor, Booklist (via, comments that a "combination of technology and courage structures the stories but, unfortunately, never quite succeeds in raising this work's literary level. Practically all the reader learns about the pilots who died is their bravery and their rank."

Nichols, Donald. How Many Times Can I Die? Brooksville, FL: Brooksville Printing, 1981.

The author led numerous special operations activities for the 5th Air Force in Korea. See Michael E. Haas [COL/USAF (Ret.)], Apollo's Warriors: U.S. Air Force Special Operations During the Cold War (Maxwell AFB, AL: Air University Press, 1997), 53-65.

Patterson, Thom. "Combat Air Controllers: Skydiving with Dirt Bikes and Guns." CNN, 20 Jun. 2014. []

The Air Force's combat controller teams (CCTs) are "a lesser known special ops ground force sometimes referred to as 'ground pounders.' ... Combat controllers are trained to help fighter pilots hit their targets more accurately."

Pushies, Fred J. U.S. Air Force Special Ops. Osceola, WI: Motorbooks, 2000.

According to Sumner,, the author "does not present any new information, but ... has gathered all of the material together in one place.... [T]here are a few inaccuracies in the history section, and the information on the 10th CWS [Combat Weather Squadron] is a little on the lite side. Overall Pushies has done his homework and presents a good overview of the Air Commandos of today's Air Force Special Operations Command."

Schemmer, Benjamin F., and John T. Carney, Jr. [COL/USAF (Ret.)] No Room for Error: The Covert Operations of America's Special Tactics Units from Iran to Afghanistan. New York: Ballantine, 2002. [pb] Novato, CA: Presidio Press, 2003.

According to Gatlin, Proceedings 129.1 (Jan. 2003), the authors trace the development of the Air Force's Special Tactics Unit from its beginning in 1977 to "its integral role in Afghanistan.... The accounts of ... activities in Grenada, Panama, and Somalia often are riveting.... Regrettably,... [t]here is no formal description of how Special Tactics operators do their jobs, how they are selected and trained, or ... why [they] are, or should be, used in some operations while in others Delta Force, Ranger, SEAL, or other special forces operators call in their own air strikes."

Peake, Studies 47.1 (2003), notes that co-author Carney helped create the Air Force's "Special Tactics Units" and was involved in both the Desert One hostage rescue mission and the assault on Grenada. The book provides "an interesting, though subjective, firsthand account of a mode of warfare that has had a crucial impact on military order of battle." For Fontenot, Parameters 34.3, this is "a well-told story focused on colorful and interesting people who do very dangerous and meaningful work." It "is a compelling story that drives home the difficulty of special operations and the special qualities of those who commit themselves to that kind of service."

Szeredy, J. “Spyke” [TSgt/USAF] "Influence Operations: Integrated PSYOP Planning." Air & Space Power Journal 19, no. 1 (Spring 2005). []

"The US Air Force brings a multitude of PSYOP and influence-operations capabilities to all phases of military and diplomatic actions, and its broad base of experience can help planners find the perfect niche for assets and mission requirements."

Thigpen, Jerry L. [COL/USAF (Ret.)] The Praetorian STARShip: The Untold Story of Combat Talon. Maxwell Air Force Base, AL: Air University Press, 2001.

The Combat Talon, "[f]irst modified and sent to Southeast Asia (SEA) in 1966," is described by Maj. Gen. USAF (Ret.) James L. Hobson, Jr. as "the most versitile C-130 ever produced" and "the weapons system of choice for long-range, clandestine operations." ("Foreword," p. xv)

Trest, Warren A. Air Commando One: Heinie Aderholt and America's Secret Air Wars. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2000.

Clark comment: Aderholt was an Air Force officer who worked closely with the CIA in support of covert operations in the 1950s and 1960s, including in Tibet and Laos. Searle, Aerospace Power Journal (Winter 2000), says that the author "has written a good book about a great airman. Harry C. Aderholt is one of the legends of Air Force special operations, and Trest tells us why." The author "tries to address the traditional conflict between the 'Big Blue Air Force' and the Air Force special operations community." He "does this mainly through Aderholt's conflict with Gen William W. Momyer [Commander/Tactical Air Command] in Vietnam."

U.S. Air Force. "Special Operations." Air Force Doctrine Document 2-7. 16 Dec. 2005. []

From "Summary of Revisions": "As America continues to engage in the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), AFSOF [Air Force Special Operations Forces] have had to shift from a platform-based to a capabilities-based model that can accommodate a GWOT-oriented campaign."

Vick, Alan J., et al. Air Power in the New Counterinsurgency Era: The Strategic Importance of USAF Advisory and Assistance Missions. Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 2006.

Westermann, JFQ 48 (1st Quarter 2008), sees this as "a work of critical importance for Air Force senior leadership and the rank and file. It offers a prescient analysis of COIN warfare and strategy and provides trenchant recommendations for enhancing the Service's capability in the long war against Islamic extremism."

Wurster, Donald C. [LTGEN/USAF] "The Air Force Special Operations Command." Joint Forces Quarterly 56 (1st Quarter 2010): 80-84.

The author is Commander, U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command. "U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command, [is] the air component of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).... Tomorrow's security challenge will likely have less focus on nation-state peer competitor conflict, and more of an emphasis on irregular challenges and issues at the subnational level.... Not only will AFSOC continue to provide USSOCOM with the MQ–1 Predators, but also, as of July 31, 2009, with the standup of the 33d SOS [Special Operations Squadron] at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, the advanced MQ–9 Reaper joined the inventory."

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