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NEWS | June 12, 2024

U.S. Navy and Air Force special operations personnel conduct routine training in the Republic of Korea

By Maj. Christopher Mesnard, Special Operations Command Korea

U.S. Air Force personnel and an AC-130J Ghostrider gunship assigned to the 1st Special Operations Wing arrived in the Republic of Korea on June 12, 2024, in support of an ongoing joint, combined exchange training iteration with U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command personnel.

The special operations forces JCET program is managed at the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict level and ensures routine combat readiness of U.S. personnel in the special operations community.

U.S. Department of Defense personnel in the SOF community routinely participate in JCETs as a means for continuing a high level of proficiency in skills known as the SOF Core Activities.

“As a professional military force, we train to maintain our readiness,” said Brig. Gen. Derek N. Lipson, Special Operations Command Korea commander. “We fully expect people will mischaracterize the intent of this training as provocative to justify the belligerent actions they already intended. This long-planned JCET ensures our personnel remain ready in our core, skills-based activities to fulfill our SOF-peculiar mission, if called upon.”

Historically, the AC-130J remains one of the most requested aircraft by ground forces.

The aircraft is suited to support unique mission requirements and can more readily travel the vast distances to reach the Indo-Pacific than previous versions. Recently, aircraft and personnel participated in exercise Balikatan 24 in the Philippines this past April and a previous JCET in the Republic of Korea in March of 2023.

Additionally, U.S. Naval Special Warfare special operators, enabling personnel, and equipment regularly rotate into the area to participate in training events and exercises.

The joint elements working together on the Korean Peninsula demonstrate a broad scope under which U.S. SOF personnel conduct routine training to maintain a heightened state of readiness.

“We’re hyper focused on supporting our ironclad commitment to the U.S.-ROK Alliance to defend our homelands,” said Lipson. “Every training event we plan and participate in focuses on the enduring goal of preventing conflict while also preparing to prevail if someone should ever decide to mistake our level of readiness and resolve toward a free, open, and stable Indo-Pacific region.”

The AC-130J is a traditional C-130J cargo aircraft modified with an array of sensors and weapons, providing an unparalleled tactical effect of deadly accuracy.

The aircraft’s modifications include a Precision Strike Package, with a precision guided munitions delivery capability as well as 30mm and 105mm weapons. Its primary missions are close air support, air interdiction, and armed reconnaissance.

The AC-130J “Ghostrider” is the 5th generation of the AC-130 series, and the 8th aircraft to wear the title “Gunship.” The concept originated during the Vietnam War from a need to protect remote outposts and hamlets from attack by enemies who would hide from traditional American airpower in the darkness and jungles.

U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command special operators and their enabling personnel specialize in direct action, special reconnaissance, and supporting functions. Often included in these missions is the need and ability to coordinate joint fires from various weapons systems, like the AC-130J.

The JCET commenced in late May and is scheduled to end prior to July. Specific dates and a detailed disposition of the units are withheld due to operational security purposes.

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