193d Special Operations Wing

193d Special Operations Wing

193d Special Operations Squadron EC-130J Commando Solo aircraft prepares to land at an air base in Southwest Asia.
Active February 16, 1964 – present
Country  United States
Allegiance  Pennsylvania
Branch   Air National Guard
Type Wing
Role Special Operations
Part of Pennsylvania Air National Guard
Garrison/HQ Harrisburg International Airport, Middletown, Pennsylvania
Motto(s) "Never Seen, Always Heard"
Colonel Mike Cason
193rd Special Operations Wing emblem

The 193d Special Operations Wing (193 SOW) is a unit of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, stationed at Harrisburg International Airport, Middletown, Pennsylvania. The Wing is gained by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as well as by the United States Air Force and Air Force Special Operations Command.


The 193d SOW's primary wartime and contingency operations mission is to broadcast radio and television signals to target populations from an airborne transmitter, jamming existing television and radio signals where necessary. Messages are not developed within the wing itself, but are provided by staff of the United States Army's 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne), based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.[1]


The 258th Air Traffic Control Squadron (formerly the 114th Tactical Control Flight) at Johnstown-Cambria County Airport was assigned to the 193 SOW, but was realigned into the ANG's 171st Air Refueling Wing (171 ARW) at Pittsburgh International Airport/Air Reserve Station shortly after moving to Johnstown.


EC-121 Constellation – 193d Tactical Electric Warfare Group, 1978

On 15 October 1964, the 140th Air Transport Squadron was authorized to expand to a group level by the National Guard Bureau. However, due to a designation conflict with an existing 140th Fighter Group with the Colorado ANG, the units designation was changed to the 168th Air Transport Squadron, being assigned to the new 168th Air Transport Group as its flying squadron. Other squadrons assigned into the group were the 168th Headquarters, 168th Material Squadron (Maintenance), 168th Combat Support Squadron, and the 168th USAF Dispensary.

Special operations

Threatened by the closure of Olmsted Air Force Base (now Harrisburg Air National Guard Base) and by the downsizing of all conventionally powered transport aircraft, the National Guard Bureau volunteered the unit for a psychological warfare capability named "Coronet Solo" in 1967.[2] Following the Arab-Israeli War of June 1967, psychological warfare once again became a U.S. military priority. The unit was again re-designated as the 193rd Tactical Electronic Warfare Group and transferred to Tactical Air Command (TAC). Four of its C-121s were converted to EC-121S Coronet Solos for its electronic warfare mission. In 1970 the unit deployed two EC-121 aircraft to Korat Royal Thai Ai Base for a six-month temporary duty code named "Commando Buzz".[2] Throughout the 1970s, the wing earned a reputation as being the most deployed Air National Guard unit, sometimes deploying 10 times in a single year.[2]

In 1978, the 193 SOW began transitioning to the EC-130E Pendant Solo (later Commando Solo) aircraft, eventually receiving 8 aircraft total by 1980.[2] Soon after the 193d SOG received EC-130s, the Air National Guard unit participated in the rescue of American citizens in Operation Urgent Fury in 1983. Then known as Volant Solo, the aircraft acted as an airborne radio station, keeping the citizens of Grenada informed about the U.S. military action. Several years later in 1989, Volant Solo was instrumental in the success of coordinated psychological operations in Operation Just Cause.[2] During this mission it broadcast throughout the initial phases of the operation, helping to end the Noriega regime.

In the mid-1980s, along with all other USAF special operations units, it was assigned to the 23d Air Force of the Military Airlift Command (MAC). In 1990, the 193d joined the newly formed Air Force Special Operations Command, and the wing's aircraft were redesignated Commando Solo, with no change in mission.

In 1990–91, Commando Solo was deployed to Saudi Arabia and Turkey in support of Operations Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Its missions included broadcasting the "Voice of the Gulf" and other highly successful programs intended to convince Iraqi soldiers to surrender.[2] In 1992, the 193 SOW received its first EC-130E upgraded to Commando Solo II configuration. In 1994, the Commando Solo II aircraft were used to broadcast radio and TV messages to the citizens and leaders of Haiti during Operation Uphold Democracy. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was featured in these broadcasts, which contributed to the orderly transition from military rule to democracy.[2]

Continuing its tradition, in 1997 the 193 SOW and Commando Solo supported the United Nations' Operation Joint Guard with radio and TV broadcasts over Bosnia-Herzegovina in support of stabilization forces operations. In 1998, the unit and its aircraft participated in Operation Desert Thunder, a deployment to Southwest Asia to convince Iraq to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions. The Commando Solo II was again sent into action in 1999 in support of Operation Allied Force. The aircraft was tasked to broadcast radio and television into Kosovo to prevent ethnic cleansing and assist in the expulsion of the Serbs from the region. In 2001, the Commando Solo II aircraft broadcast messages to the local Afghan population and Taliban soldiers during Operation Enduring Freedom.

In 2003, the Commando Solo II was deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2004, the 193 SOW received newer EC-130J aircraft. These were quickly redeployed to the Middle East in support of the War on Terror.


Extended federal recognition and activated, 16 February 1964
Re-designated: 168th Military Airlift Group, 8 January 1966
Re-designated: 193d Tactical Electronic Warfare Group, 1 June 1967
Re-designated: 193d Electronic Combat Group, 6 October 1980
Re-designated: 193d Special Operations Group, 15 November 1983
Re-designated: 193d Special Operations Wing, 1 June 1995


Gained by: Military Air Transport Service
Gained by: Military Airlift Command, 8 January 1977
Gained by: Tactical Air Command, 1 June 1967
Gained by: Twenty-Third Air Force, Military Airlift Command, 1 March 1983
Gained by: Air Force Special Operations Command, 22 May 1990 – present


Assigned to 193 OG effective 1 June 1992


Designated: Harrisburg Air National Guard Base, Pennsylvania, 1991 – present




 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

  1. Harold Kennedy (February 2002). "Why Special Ops Prefer C-130s for Many Missions". National Defense Magazine.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Hart, Paul (1996). "193rd Special Operations Wing Pennsylvania Air National Guard". The Friends Journal (Summer 1996): 13–14.
  3. Air Force Personnel Center Awards Search (Post-1991) Archived 2 September 2011 at the Wayback Machine.

External links

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