Special Tactics wing changes command

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ryan Conroy
  • 24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
For the third time since its activation in 2012, the 24th Special Operations Wing welcomed a new commander during an assumption of command ceremony here July 14.

Lt. Gen. Brad Heithold, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, presided over the ceremony, where Col. Michael Martin assumed command of the sole Special Tactics wing in the Air Force.

Heithold challenged Martin to lead the Airmen in his command toward continued success.

“Continue to focus on providing combat-ready forces…we win, we don’t settle for second place in anything we do,” said Lt. Gen. Brad Heithold. “You provide the kind of forces that scare our enemy…there’s a dose of deterrent factor in your Airmen. Knowing you exist, scares them. Provide an environment for your Airmen to thrive… don’t accept any form of toxicity in your formation. Continue to modernize and sustain the force…these are my challenges to you, and I know you’re up for it.”

The 24th SOW, previously commanded by Col. Matthew “Wolfe” Davidson, boasts a unique ground operations mission set and approximately 1,500 of the 2,500 Special Tactics members in the Air Force.

The primary mission of the 24th SOW is providing Special Tactics forces for rapid global employment to enable airpower success. It is U.S. Special Operation Command’s tactical air and ground integration force, and the Air Force’s special operations ground force to enable global access, precision strike, and personnel recovery operations.

Since 9/11, Air Force Special Tactics has been involved in almost every major operation and has seen a significant amount of combat. Under Davidson’s command, the 24th SOW performed 3,076 combat missions, controlled 6,000 aircraft, conducted 209 airfield surveys and eliminated countless enemies from the battlefield, according to Heithold.

“You guys are crushing it on the battlefield,” said Heithold. “There’s nobody out there like you having the impact you have … and our teammates recognize that.”

The Airmen of the 24th SOW have been the most highly decorated since the Vietnam War. Since 9/11, Special Tactics Airmen have earned seven Air Force Crosses, 35 Silver Stars, more than 100 Purple Hearts, nearly a thousand Bronze Stars and hundreds of Bronze Stars with valor.

“Somebody told me the other day that we have ordinary citizens that are doing extraordinary things and I’m not sure about that,” said Heithold. “In this community of Airmen I don’t see an ordinary thing about any of you, I think you’re extraordinary citizens doing extraordinary things … you’re extraordinary to begin with.”

Before his arrival here, Martin served as the deputy commander for Special Operations Command-Africa in Stuttgart, Germany.

No stranger to Special Tactics, Martin served as the commander of the 21st Special Tactics Squadron and 724th Special Tactics Group and led Special Tactics and joint forces through eight deployments in Operations SOUTHERN WATCH, ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM/NEW DAWN.

“Wolfe and Vannessa [Davidson’s wife] paved the way for our future success,” said Martin. “I am honored to take command of such a tremendous group of Air Commandos. Special Tactics permits the ground special operations component to enable precise and lethal airpower effects and we intend to provide the best to the combatant commanders.”