Hurlbert Field Air Force Base is actually part of Eglin AFB in Florida. It is an unusual arrangement whereby each base has housing, but military members from Eglin can receive housing at Hurlbert, and vice versa. They also co-share the Air Force veterans and widows housing projects. Each mission is different between the two bases; they are separated only by 11 miles, and co-mingle on many projects and services. The host unit at Hurlbert Field is the 16th Special Operations Wing. The base is also home to Air Force Special Operations Command. The joint services Special Operation University is located at Hurlbert Field. The wings mission is to train the Air Force special ops for missions all over the world. The emphasis of the wing is on unconventional warfare, counterinsurgency and psychological operations. Also stationed at Hurlbert is the infamous Red Horse Squadron which is the civil engineering squadron that is the first to arrive at any conflict site to set up operations. There are 7800 military members stationed at the base and 800 civilians, 60 reservists and 8200 family members.
Land that is part of a military installation is called a reservation. Hurlbert Field is actually on the Eglin AFB reservation. This came about in the 1940’s. Hulbert’s current location was an air field on Eglin and used by the Army Air Corps. The air field was renamed in honor of 1st Lieutenant Donald Hurlbert who was a World War II pilot who was killed in a flight accident at Eglin in 1943. During the 1950’s Hurlbert Field was a busy missile launch and testing site off of Santa Rosa Island near the field. The base was involved with the Cuban Missile Crisis when a missile ventured toward Cuba when it was supposed to be circling the Gulf as part of a shoot-down mission training session. The crisis was averted when an F-4 aircraft from Eglin damaged the missile so it overshot Cuba and landed in the ocean. The missile launches were ended in 1974. When that mission ended, the mission of training special operation forces increased. Hurlbert became the sole site for training special operations people from all branches of the military.
Units Assigned to the Facility
There are several major units assigned to Hurlburt Field. These include the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), the 1st Special Operations Wing (1 SOW), the Air Combat Command’s (ACC) 50th Command and Control Wing, and the USAF Special Operations School.
Air Force Special Operations Command
The Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) provides Special Operations services for the US Air Force (AFSOF) and also functions as the Air Force component Command for the US Special Operations Command (USSOCOM). AFSOC is also reponsible for deploying the Air Force Special Operations Forces (SOF) throughout the world and taking care of assignment to the unified Commands on a regional level.
1st Special Operations Wing (1st SOW)
Focused on unconventional warfare (including combat search and rescue, personnel recovery, counter-terrorism, aviation assistance to developing nations, close Air support and psychological Operations), the 1st SOW is located at Hurlburt Field in addition to the nearby Eglin Air Force Base and Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. Its core missions cover agile combat support, Specialized aerial refueling, precision aerospace fires and other essential Operations.
Air Combat Command’s (ACC) 50th Command and Control Wing
Organized under the USAF Warfare Center, the USAF’s 505th Command and Control Wing is responsible for integrated training tactics developments and testing for the purpose of improving warfighter readiness. This is also accomplished by developing and subsequently performing tests on the operational-level Command and control of the following: Air, space, and cyberspace.
US Air Force Special Operations School (USAFSOS)
The purpose of the USAFSOS is to train already talented and capable Airmen so that they can qualify to serve as Special operators in the Air Force. The school educates these Airment in the way so that they can meet the unique and stringent requirements of AFSOC Airmen, joint/interagency partners and Special Operations Forces. The USAFSOS designs and Bases its training on the training by other agencies including the Naval Special Warfare Command’s Special Warfare Center, USAF Air Education and Training Command, and the U.S. Army Special Operation Command’s JFK Special Warfare Center and School. This is to provide the most elite training for some of the most elite soldiers in the Air Force.
There are 680 units of housing available on Hurlbert Field AFB. All eligible people can qualify for housing either on Hurlbert, or at Eglin AFB. There is only one waiting list for both locations. The wait can sometimes take up to 30 months for housing. The housing office maintains a list of rentals in the community that offer discounts for military personnel. There are 13 dormitories available for unaccompanied military personnel.
There are no schools located on Hurlbert Field. Students must attend school between the age of 6 and 16. There are several elementary schools in small cities outside the base. High school students attend school in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. Transportation is provided for all students. Every new student must have a school physical within 30 days of registering for school and be up to date on their shots.
Hurlbert Field has a Base Exchange, shoppette, commissary, and min-mall. If you cannot find what you want on base, drive 11 miles to Eglin AFB and shop at their exchange stores and commissary. It is just a short distance further to shop at the Pensacola Naval Station. With the close proximity of four military installations, it is a shoppers delight.