The Crossroads of Special Operations

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Interview: Head of US Air Force special ops in Asia-Pacific talks regional threats, priorities | Defense News

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In this day and age, the phrase “special operations” conjures the idea of the covert forces in Afghanistan that conduct raids on terrorist strongholds, train native forces in tactics or accomplish highly critical missions like the killing of Osama bin Laden.

But in the Asia-Pacific regions, the work of special operators takes on a softer veneer, focusing instead on strengthening partner nations’ militaries through exercises and training, and putting U.S. forces through their paces in preparation for a worst-case scenario down the road.

As commander of the 353rd Special Operations Group, Col. Jason Kirby is the head of U.S. Air Force special operations in the Asia-Pacific region. He talked to Defense News during a February trip to Kadena Air Base in Japan, discussing the group’s current priorities and challenges in light of emerging tension with China, Russia and North Korea.

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