With the Air Rescue Service reducing the number of Pararescuemen within its ranks, 23 AF petitioned on behalf of the 1720th Special Tactics Group to transfer PJ positions to the group and integrate them into Special Tactics teams. Col (ret.,) John Carney, calls the 1992 integration of Combat Controllers and Pararescuemen under a single command element the birth of Special Tactics as we now know it.
The USAF re-designated the 1723rd Combat Control Squadron as the 1723rd Special Tactics Squadron.
The densely populated island of Luzon was struck by an earthquake with a 7.7 M (surface-wave magnitude). Detachment 2, 1723rd Special Tactics Squadron deployed to support relief operations and staged out of nearby Camp John Hay golf course. Combat controllers directed 294 sorties and coordinated the delivery of 370,000 pounds of food and medical supplies, while Pararescueman treated 73 patients and coordinated the medical evacuation of 40 critical and 90 non-critical patients.
Iraq invaded Kuwait and sparked international outrage. Seven days later, the 1720 STGP was tasked to provide rescue and support personnel to form a Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) team in support of a possible conflict in the Persian Gulf region. Iraq’s invasion prompted the United States to form a large coalition to defend Saudi Arabia (Operation Desert Shield) and to liberate Kuwait (Operation Desert Storm).
Two weeks after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, Capt. Anthony F. Tino, CMSgt Wayne Norrad, SMSgt Robert J. Boyle, and MSgt James D. Burch, from 1721 CCS at Pope AFB, N.C., along with augmentation from the 1722 CCS at McChord AFB, WA, formed an 18-man team and directed the first fixed-wing aircraft at 1616 Combat Control Squadron Provisional (1616 CCSP), Detachment 2, at King Fahd International Airport, Saudi Arabia. Along with Military Airlift Command (MAC) air traffic controllers, special tactics airmen began 24-hour operations on the airfield. Over a four-month period during the build-up (Operation DESERT SHIELD) to the liberation of Kuwait (Operation DESERT STORM), theater assigned personnel numbered 85 and were organized under the 1616 CCSP at Detachment 1 (Dhahran, Saudi Arabia) and Det 2 (King Fahd).
Det 2, 1723 STSQ conducted airdrops with RAMZ at Sealy Drop Zone, Subic Naval Air Station. This marked the first time Det 2, 1723 STSQ used the boats to deploy forces.
Members of the wing deployed to Southwest Asia to provide air liaison support between ground forces and air operations through February 1991 (Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Inactivated with assets placed under the Air Forces in Panama.
After a 39-day bombing campaign, the ground phase of Operation DESERT STORM began. ST forces accompanied SOF teams and provided medical, command and control, and coordinated air support between ground forces and air assets.
Operation PROVIDE COMFORT was a military operation led by the United States and some of its Gulf War allies that defended and delivered humanitarian aid to Kurds fleeing their homes in northern Iraq in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War. (Note: Operation PROVIDE COMFORT II began on 24 July 1991, the same day PROVIDE COMFORT ended. This operation was primarily military in nature, and its mission was to prevent Iraqi aggression against the Kurds.) Thirty ST personnel (18 CCTs and 12 PJs) from Det 1, 1723 STSQ from Rhein-Main AB Germany and from OL-A RAF Woodbridge, UK, deployed to Incirlik AB, Turkey. Search and Rescue teams were established as additional personnel arrived, and on 14 April, the first teams deployed into the field as key personnel with Humanitarian Service Support Detachments (HSSD). In total, 37 members from Det 1 and OL-A deployed in support of the mission. Over the 16-day operation, CCTs controlled 1,500 sorties that delivered 3,500 tons of food and supplies, while PJs assisted medical personnel with providing 24,000 refugees with care.
Operation SEA ANGEL—Bangladesh Cyclone. On the night of 29 April 1991, a powerful tropical cyclone struck the Chittagong district of southeastern Bangladesh with winds clocked at 250 km/h (155 mph). On 11 May, ST personnel from Det 2, 1723 STSQ were formally tasked by Special Operations Command-Pacific (SOCP) to provide air traffic control as part of a U.S. Joint Task Force. The 1723 STSQ deployed seven Combat Controllers and four Pararescuemen to Chittagong, where they set up runway lights, TACAN, and liaised with Bangladesh controllers. Outside of ATC operations, ST provided crucial SATCOM link to JTF headquarters, augmented Special Forces teams deployed to outlying areas, distributed food, rendered medial aid, coordinated supplies, and surveyed several potential airfields.
Re-designated as the 24th Wing (while inactive)
Activated again at Howard AFB, Panama, where it became the senior USAF organization in Panama, replacing the previous command and division-level Air Force host units.
The 321st Special Tactics Squadron stood up and replaced Detachment 1, 1732 Special Tactics Squadron for Operation Provide Comfort II.
Began operating the only C-21, CT-43, C-27, and special mission C-130 in Air Combat Command (ACC). Provided control and support to multi-service units directed by United States Southern Command and United States Southern Air Force, 1992-1999. Missions included counter narcotics operations, aerial command and control, intra-theater airlift, security assistance and defense of the Panama Canal. The wing operated both Howard AFB and Albrook Air Force Station.
Operation PROVIDE PROMISE—Bosnia/Herzegovina was a humanitarian relief operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Yugoslav Wars, from 1992 to 1996, which made it the longest running humanitarian airlift in history. By the end of the operation, aircraft from 21 countries had flown 12,886 sorties into Sarajevo, delivering 159,622 tons of food, medicine, and supplies and evacuating over 1,300 wounded people. The U.S. flew 3,951 C-130, 236 C-141, and 10 C-17 air land sorties (delivering 62,801.5 tons), as well as 2,222 C-130 air-drop sorties. The 321 STS, with some relief from the 23 STS, maintained between three to eight personnel deployed to San Vito Air Station, Italy, providing 24-hr alert CSAR and fire support activities for COMJSOAC and Task Force XX.
The UN humanitarian relief effort in Somalia (UNOSOM I), named Operation PROVIDE RELIEF began. Operation PROVIDE RELIEF was part of United Nations (UN) endorsed effort called The Unified Task Force (UNITAF) to secure and facilitate humanitarian relief for the people of Somalia, an effort that was assisted by the UN UNOSOM I mission beginning in 1991 in light of a severe famine, initiated and exacerbated by the ongoing Somali civil war. It was initiated and spearheaded by the United States and other Western nations that committed troops to conduct the operation. However, most of the food was looted shortly upon the landing of these planes. This made the operation a failure and the UN therefore asked its members for assistance, leading to Operation RESTORE HOPE.
Hurricane Andrew was the third Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the United States, after the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935 and Hurricane Camille in 1969. During Andrew's duration it struck the northwestern Bahamas, southern Florida at Homestead (south of Miami), and southwest Louisiana around Morgan City. The hurricane left 65 dead, destroyed over 63,000 homes and businesses, and caused over $26 billion in damages. Major Marc Stratton, Combat controllers TSgt Mike Ramos and SSgt Boyd Boling, and pararescuemen SrA Lance Supernaw, from the 23 STS, deployed to south Florida. While there, they surveyed and established the airfield with portable navigational aids, lighting, and communications, and controlled the air traffic to bring in the initial relief support/supplies in direct support of search, rescue, and recovery operations.
Following new policy guidelines on women serving in combat roles, Senior Airmen Christine Kelley and Lisa Wilson entered AC-130 Spectre gunship loadmaster training.
During a mission for Operation CONTINUE HOPE in Mogadishu, Somalia, special operations forces became engaged in the longest sustained fire fight since the Vietnam War. The Battle of Mogadishu resulted in the wounding of 80 service members and the deaths of 18, two of whom received the Medal of Honor posthumously. MSgt Scott Fales and SSgt Jeff Bray were awarded the Silver Star for their actions during the battle. In February 1994, TSgt Timothy Wilkinson was awarded the Air Force Cross, the first enlisted Airman to receive the award since 1975. Parts of the Battle of Mogadishu, although not the Air Force participation, were dramatized in the 2001 motion picture, Black Hawk Down.
The 10th Weather Squadron was re-designated 10th Combat Weather Squadron (10 CWS) and activated at Ft Bragg, N.C.
Hurricane Opal was a Category 4 hurricane that formed in the Gulf of Mexico. It crossed the Yucatán Peninsula while still a tropical depression from September 27, then strengthened northward in the Gulf, becoming a powerful Category 4 Atlantic hurricane before making a second landfall on 4 October in the Florida Panhandle near Pensacola as a 115-mph (185- km/h) hurricane. Members of the 720 STG and 23 STS assisted with base recovery, search and rescue and air traffic control support, as well as landing zone assessments for local agencies and assisted with damage assessment and property recovery support.
720 STG units began participating in Operation ALLIED FORCE in the Balkan nation of Kosovo. The NATO operation prevented Serb-dominated Kosovo from conducting genocidal attacks on ethnic Albanians living in the country.
Operation Allied Force was a NATO contingency response aimed at ensuring full complains with UN Security Council Resolutions – which were in response to a crisis in Kosovo. To execute Operation Allied Force, a multinational force was tasked by NATO to bring a swift end to hostilities committed by the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia against ethnic Albanians in the southern province of Kosovo. The military objective of Operation Allied Force was to degrade and damage the military and security structure that Yugoslav President Milosevic had used to depopulate and destroy the Albanian majority in Kosovo.
On 2 May 1999, Serbian ground fire downed an Air Force F-16CG, piloted by Lt Col David L. Goldfein, call sign “Hammer 34,” near the border with Bosnia-Herzegovina. A Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) package consisting of one MH-60G Pave Hawk and two MH-53M Pave Low helicopters launched from Tuzla Air Base and instigated the recovery mission.
The Pave Hawk crew, consisting of two Pararescuemen and one Combat Controller, spotted Hammer 34 and quickly swooped in to affect the rescue. After only 20-seconds on the ground, the Special Tactics team authenticated the pilot, loaded him aboard the aircraft and piled on top of him as Serbian forces opened fire. General Goldfein became the 21st Chief of Staff of the Air Force on 1 July 2016."We never know when some young airman is going to risk everything to come pull us out," Goldfein has stated several years ago. Over the years, a deep friendship grew between Goldfein and the men who saved him that day. Goldfein has often spoken of his admiration for those men, and every year, he sends their unit a bottle of Scotch — "single malt, good quality," as he says — to show his appreciation.
"We never know when some young airman is going to risk everything to come pull us out," Goldfein has stated several years ago. Over the years, a deep friendship grew between Goldfein and the men who saved him that day. Goldfein has often spoken of his admiration for those men, and every year, he sends their unit a bottle of Scotch — "single malt, good quality," as he says — to show his appreciation.
The 24th Wing conducted base closure and unit inactivation in compliance with the Panama Treaty of 1977 that stipulated all US military forces would depart Panama by December 31st, 1999.