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Special Operations Storytellers

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Caitlin Carnes
  • 137th Special Operations Wing

RAF MILDENHALL, U.K. -- Members of the 137th Special Operations Wing (SOW) Public Affairs, Oklahoma National Guard, integrated with 352d Special Operations Wing Public Affairs at RAF Mildenhall to provide photo and video support and receive annual training Aug. 1-5, 2022.

Three 137th SOW Guardsmen acted as a force multiplier to the 352d SOW, allowing for full coverage of multiple training missions on both aircraft assigned to the active duty wing.

National Guard forces augmenting active duty in a training environment acts as preparation for real-world scenarios that will require integration with their total force counterparts. The training missions covered by the 137th SOW public affairs was a training mission for the shop itself as an Air Force information capability, sharpening their skills as storytellers and broadening their exposure to active duty, Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) and Air Force mission sets.

For 137th SOW public affairs specialist Senior Airman Alex Kaelke, this experience marked not only his first training outside of his unit, but his first international trip.

“I won’t soon forget the view from the back of a CV-22B Osprey over the English countryside,” said Kaelke. “It was unique working alongside fellow special operations Airmen abroad and experiencing firsthand the capabilities of the 352d Special Operations Wing and their role in Special Operations Command Europe.”

Public affairs coverage included a CV-22B Osprey training mission, which involved a tilt-rotor air to air refueling and firing a .50 caliber-mounted machine. While conducting a three-ship MC-130J Commando II training mission, 137th SOW public affairs specialists observed and documented air drops, air refueling with a KC-135 Stratotanker and low-visibility special tactics.

“Receiving special operations public affairs training at an active duty coalition base so far from home and on aircraft I have never flown on before has been an eye-opening experience for me,” Kaelke reflected.

Often referred to as the "tip of the spear,” Air Force special operators lead high-stakes missions, deploy versatile specially-modified aircraft and work in tangent with other military and allied forces in support of global operations. The 137th SOW team was charged with covering both aircraft assigned to the 352d SOW and communicating their agility and strategic placement in the European theater.

“Partnering with another SOW allowed for a seamless integration of our teams and knowledge-sharing discussions,” said 1st Lt. Kate Danner, public affairs adviser with the 352d SOW. “Anytime we can collaborate with fellow air commandos and expose them to our airframes advances the AFSOC lines of effort to develop, organize and equip Airmen.”

Public affairs is charged with telling the Air Force story, conveying commander’s intent and posturing the capabilities of their mission. As tactical communicators, it is important to create total force partnerships in training to maintain readiness and adaptability — no matter the environment.