April 14, 1999

C-141s end Special Operations missions

By Technical Sgt. Mark Voorhis
437th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

CHARLESTON AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. (AMCNS) -- After more than 16 years of maintaining a Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed special operations force for global contingencies, the 16th Airlift Squadron officially began standing-down from that commitment April 9.

Col. Dale A. Kissinger, 437th Operations Group special capabilities director, said he is saddened to see the C-141 SOLL II mission leave, but understands the need for a new and improved aircraft.

"The special operations community here has been outstanding," Kissinger said. "We will all miss the camaraderie and challenge, but we're looking ahead."

For years, the 16 AS provided the nation's only long-range, rapid response, special operations low-level capability, responding to the National Command Authorities' taskings. Using specially equipped C-141 Starlifters and uniquely-qualified aircrews trained to use enhanced night vision equipment, this unit rapidly deployed and inserted special operations ground forces into blacked-out, austere airfield/drop zones and extracted those forces upon completion of their mission.

The stand-down directly resulted from plans to retire the venerable C-141 aircraft here and replace them with the new and more efficient C-17.

The special operations low-level missions will transition to another base for a period of time until the C-17 picks up the specialized mission. As a result of the move, the last C-141 aircraft departs Charleston AFB about June 2000.