Air Force Special Operations Command activated the 33rd Special Operations Squadron last Friday at Cannon AFB, N.M. The Clovis News Journal reported that day that the new unit will operate the MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle, which is already playing an important role in countering the Taliban in Afghanistan and insurgents in Iraq. “This unit is more than ready to answer our nation’s call to duty,” said Lt. Col. Michael Bruzzini, the squadron commander, at the activation ceremony. He added, “The MQ-9 is an awesome platform, but it is these individuals that will make our enemies truly fear the Reaper.” Bruzzini said the squadron’s members spent six months getting ready for the activation, operating out of no less than five locations to learn Reaper tactics, techniques, and procedures and mold themselves into a cohesive fighting force. AFSOC already operates the 3rd SOS, an MQ-1 Predator UAV unit, out of Cannon.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.