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"THE MOST DEPLOYED UNIT IN THE AIR NATIONAL GUARD"
THE VOICE OF THE QUIET PROFESSIONALS OF AFSOC
THE 193rd SPECIAL OPERATIONS WING/ PENNSYLVANIA AIR NATIONAL GUARD
BY PAUL HART
The primary mission of the 193rd SOW is defined as: conducting psychological operations using electromagnetic transmissions covering the commercial AM and FM radio bands, VHF and UHF television bands, and the military VHF, HF, and FM frequency spectrum. In laymen's terms the 193rd possesses the capability to transmit radio or television signals, from their aircraft, in support of military operations anywhere in the world. The 193rd is unique as they are the only unit in the Air Force, Air Reserve, or Air Guard dedicated to this mission.
The mission was originally defined after the Dominican crisis back in 1965. During his de-brief the admiral who had overall command of the operation stated that it would have been useful to have a broadcast capability over known local radio frequencies and to have been able to transmit over indigenous military radio networks. During 1967, the 193rd operating specially equipped EC-121 Super Constellations, took on the Air Force PsyOps mission known as Coronet Solo.
July 1970 the unit was assigned its first operational mission. Two of their EC-121s went on deployment to Korat Royal Thai Air Base for a six month TDY code name Commando Buzz. As the unique nature of the 193rd's mission became more refined and it's capabilities more known to the various commands, the 193rd found itself involved in exercises run by the Air Force, Navy, and NATO. The 193rd earned the title of the most deployed unit in the Air National Guard, being tasked with as many as ten deployments a year.
1978 the unit began conversion to the EC-130E Volant Solo (later known as Commando Solo) aircraft, taking on a total of 8 aircraft; 4 EC-130E(RR) code name Rivet Rider, and 4 EC-130E(SH) code name Senior Hunter. The external modifications on the Rivet Riders included the addition of 3 oversized blade antennas; one under each wing, and the third extending forward from the lower third of the vertical fin. Two retractable wire antennas were also added; one released from the modified beavertail, with the second extending out the belly held vertical by a 500 pound weight. The Senior Hunter modification is much less conspicuous; the main landing gear doors are replaced with doors housing the mission antenna array. The mission flown by the Senior Hunter aircraft is also very low key. Known as Senior Scout this highly classified mission of gathering electronics and communications intelligence to support the objectives of the USAF Electronic Security Command can not be discussed in detail. All the aircraft in the squadron are also equipped with air refueling receptacles for extended missions.
In July 1992 the 193rd took delivery of the first upgraded Rivet Rider EC-130E, bringing the aircraft up to the Commando Solo II configuration. The modification added two underwing pylon mounted 23X6 foot equipment pods, plus the so-called X antenna mounted on both sides of the vertical fin. The newest modifications increased the 193rds signal coverage to include VHF and UHF color television broadcasting in any format used worldwide. Chaff and flare dispensers as well as Infrared jammers have been incorporated into the design to afford a limited self-defense capability against both airborne and ground launched threats.
Along with the normal training missions, exercises, and overseas deployments in support of NATO and Asian commitments, the 193rd has been called upon to perform it's PsyOps mission in support of US combat operations. October 1983 the 193rd supported "Operation Urgent Fury" as US forces entered Grenada to rescue US citizens. December 1989 the unit was called upon to participate in "Operation Just Cause" broadcasting information to the people of Panama as to the purpose of the US mission. 2 August 1990 the forces of Iraq crossed into Kuwait, shortly there after, Saddam Hussein announced he was about to annex his conquest. Concerned that Iraq was about to move south into Saudi Arabia President Bush, in concert with the United Nations, ordered "Operation Desert Shield". The 193rd was one of the first units required in theater, by late August the first elements of the unit had deployed to a classified location to begin operations. With the support of the unit's members, and their employers, the 193rd was able to support the mission using volunteers in a non-mobilized status. This changed in January 1991 when the unit received additional tasking requiring more assets at a second location, a partial mobilization was ordered bring members on active status. During the Gulf War the 193rd became known as "The Voice of the Gulf" broadcasting news programs, sports, and Voice of America rebroadcasts mainly to Allied forces. They also broadcast a specially recorded program titled "Iraq the Betrayed" urging Iraqi forces to surrender. More than half the Iraqi POWs said they had heard the broadcast and half indicated the message influenced their decision to surrender proving the value of the PsyOps mission.
The most recent operational mission flown by the 193rd began on 5 July 1994, the mission was more humanitarian in nature than a so-called combat support mission. The mission was to help stem the massive reaction by the people of Haiti to the White House safe haven policy. Thousands of Haitians took to the sea in an attempt to reach America, or the US Coast Guard. In one day the USCG picked up 2,900 Haitians from 46 boats. Many Haitians were lost at sea and those lucky enough to be picked up were headed for detention camps in Cuba and Panama. The mission given to the 193rd was to broadcast messages in Creole to the people of Haiti, that no one would be allowed entry into the United States, so don't take on the life threatening journey to begin with. Pro-democracy and pro-Aristide messages were broadcast to the people, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide also prepared one tape appealing for calm. The broadcasts format included news, local music, and panel discussions all in the native Creole language mainly spoken by the common people. The overall mission objectives seemed to be successful. The Coast Guard reported the number of boats taking to the sea decreased drastically once the broadcasts started, and soon went to zero.
Some detractors would say the 193rd is doing nothing more than putting out propaganda. Propaganda is putting out false and misleading information often credited to false sources. The 193rd broadcast's information often unavailable in closed societies, telling it like it is, allowing the people to come to their own conclusions.
Starting in 1970, the new PsyOps mission assigned to the 193rd has given
the men and women of the unit the opportunity to put together an impressive record that
any unit, active or reserve, would be proud to call their own. The 193rd has earned eight
Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards, the Spaatz Trophy for the second time in three years
honoring the 193rd as the best of the 89 flying units in the Air Guard for accumulating
150,000 hours of accident free flying over the past 39 years, plus a host of other
National Guard honors including the Air Force Association's Outstanding Guard unit award.
The value of their mission is self-evident, the "Voice of the Quiet
Professionals" (the 193rd SOG) has become an integral part of the modern battlefield.
ACKNOWLEDGMENT: I would like to thank Maj.
Kris Kollar for the opportunity to see a team of true professionals at work.
Note: This article has appeared in both National Guard magazine, and the Air Force Museum Friends Journal
Comments about this article should be sent to Paul Hart firstname.lastname@example.org
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