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23rd Special Tactics Squadron [23rd STS]

Combat controllers of the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron were deployed to Tuzla, Bosnia, in early 1996 where they were working in all three of the sectors controlled by British, French and Americans forces in Bosnia. While there, they were tasked with keeping commanders of the three special operations command control elements in radio contact with the special forces liaison coordination elements in the field. They also provided the six non-NATO countries with services such as assault zone surveys, communications and air traffic control.

Combat controllers from the 23rd STS also deployed to Somalia during relief efforts there. During Operation United Shield in Mogadishu, and for a period of 72 hours, they oversaw more than 150 aircraft sorties from the airport.

Personnel from the 23rd STS were involved in the recovery of downed 2 US Air Force pilots during Operation Allied Force. The two pilots involved were flying an F-16 and an F-117 aircraft.

Personnel from the 23rd STS took part in the 2000 edition of the Canadian Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) from September 15-20, along with personnel from the 24th STS, based at Pope AFB, NC, and the 210th RQS, based at Kulis ANGB, AK. This was the first time in 15 years that Americans units had participated in the annual Canadian exercise.

The 23rd Special Tactics Squadron comprises pararescuemen, combat controllers and various support specialties into one cohesive team. This unit provides a force multiplier capability for unconventional warfare in the worldwide arena.

The mission of the 23rd STS is to:

  • Deploy specially organized, trained, and equipped forces to survey and assess assault zones.
  • Establish and control landing and drop zones in the most austere and inhospitable regions of the world.
  • Set up and operate forward area refueling and rearming points.
  • Establish and manage casualty collection, triage and evacuation sites.
  • Participate in Air Force Special Operations Command foreign internal defense efforts.
  • Provide special operations terminal attack control capability in hostile environments.



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