3rd SOS changes leadership, transfers to Cannon

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Just one week after the 27th Special Operations Wing marked its first year at Cannon Air Force Base, the 3rd Special Operations Squadron commemorated its transfer from Nellis AFB, Nev., to Cannon AFB in a change-of-command ceremony Oct. 8. 

In front of a backdrop of parachuting Special Operations Forces currently training on the base, Lt. Col. Robert Brock, former 3rd SOS, Detachment 1 commander at Cannon, took command of the 3rd SOS from Lt. Col. Paul Caltagirone. Colonel Caltagirone will become the 27th Special Operations Group deputy commander. 

This event also signified the official transfer of the 3rd SOS from Nellis AFB to Cannon AFB. 

“The transfer of the 3rd SOS to Cannon brings yet another combat-steeped squadron to the high plains of eastern New Mexico,” said 27th SOW commander Col. Timothy Leahy. “We welcome a band of warriors…[who] have sought out, engaged, and destroyed the enemies of this nation…and because they are on duty, we can sleep at night.” 

Colonel Leahy added that although most of the 3rd SOS’s accomplishments are now highly classified, one day the dedication, skill, and accomplishments of its Airmen will be read about and honored in history books. 

Two 3rd SOS accomplishments while under the leadership of Colonel Caltagirone, however, were mentioned at the change-of-command ceremony. 

“The 3rd SOS flew 3,678 sorties over Iraq and Afghanistan, leading to more than 6,000 enemy combatants captured or killed,” said Col. James Cardoso, the 27th SOG commander. “And during that time, [Colonel Caltagirone] led the squadron through unprecedented growth, and oversaw the move from Nellis to Cannon with zero reduction in combat capability.” 

Representing one of the appreciative users of the 3rd SOS was Army Col. Charles Yomant, Deputy Commander of the Special Operations Command Air Component. Presenting a framed collage of different SOCOM assets to Colonel Caltagirone, Colonel Yomant said that the special operations operatives on the ground want the 3rd SOS supporting them. 

“We can’t do what we do without the [Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance] capability provided by the 3rd SOS,” he said. 

Cannon leadership said that the quality support already provided by the 3rd SOS to fight the Global War on Terror will continue under the direction of Colonel Brock. 

“It is difficult to imagine the 3rd SOS attaining greater accomplishments than they already have,” said Colonel Cardoso of Colonel Brock. “However, under Bob’s command, there is no doubt they will.”

Colonel Cardoso added that Colonel Brock is uniquely qualified to assume command of the Predator squadron because of his background as a maintenance officer and later as a pilot who flew combat missions in the MH-53 Pave Low. This was followed by his great involvement in setting up the 3rd SOS at Cannon AFB. 

The full transition of personnel and Predator-flying capabilities from Nellis to Cannon will likely take several more months, culminating in a squadron population of more than 300 personnel in about six to eight months.

Mae-Li Allison

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