Unit patch change for some AF search and rescue
ARLINGTON, Va. — About 9,000 members of the Air Force’s active-duty combat search and rescue community are going to change the unit patches on their uniforms beginning Oct. 1, when some of the search and rescue assets now assigned to the Air Combat Command will move under the control of Air Force Special Operations Command.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John Jumper decided to make the mostly administrative change to more effectively integrate the search and rescue community, Lt. Col. Christy Nolta, an Air Force spokeswoman, said in a Thursday telephone interview.
The move gives combat rescue officers and pararescuemen “one champion for career and funding issues and increasing their opportunities for career growth and broadening,” Nolta said.
While some of the Air Force’s HC-130 rescue/tanker transports and HH-60 search-and-rescue helicopters will get repainted tails, none of the aircraft will move to different bases because of this action. Nor will the Defense Department’s combatant commanders and designated Joint Force/Joint Force Air Component Commanders notice the change.
“They will [all] continue to gain personnel recovery capability through the Joint Forces Air Component Commander in the same way they did before,” Nolta said.
About 60 airmen will actually move duty stations, from ACC’s headquarters at Langley Air Force Base, Va., to AFSOC at Hurlburt Field, Fla., but that move will take place “over the course of the next several years,” not immediately, Nolta said.
Meanwhile, combat search and rescue units assigned to both the Air Force’s Pacific Command and the Europe Command will not be affected by the reshuffling. Those units “have unique mission area requirements” that are best overseen by the overseas commands directly, Nolta said.
The Pacific Air Force Rescue Coordination Center will also remain in PACAF.
As for Air National Guard and Reserve search and rescue units, those will remain under administrative control to their respective units unless they get mobilized, “at which time they will become AFSOC units, except for units assigned to PACAF,” Nolta said.