Secret Units, Open Job Postings

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The Joint Special Operations Command, which runs the military's special missions units (SMUs), officially does nothing of the sort.

Virtually anyone who knows anything about the military knows that JSOC -- pronounced "J-SOCK" -- is where the units known in popular culture as "Delta Force" and "SEAL Team Six" actually reside. Technically, the actual names of these units is classified at the TOP SECRET level; the existence of the units is classified at the SECRET levels, and the missions themselves are classified at levels so high that the compartment names are classified. 

A military spokesperson cannot legally acknowledge that the Combat Applications Group is actually the Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta  -- or Delta Force.

In the age of Wikileaks and an obsession with operational security, it's curious, sometimes, to see the military openly acknowledge the existence of the OTHER, even more secretive units -- in places like contract solicitations and job postings. Hey, JSOC has to hire just like everyone else.

Sometimes, those job postings can be revealing.

In addition to the two direct action units mentioned above, there's a third SMU. It's the third of a total of -- well, more than three -- but back to the point.

The third SMU -- a very special SMU -- is known as the Aviation Tactics and Evaluation Group.   A posting on USAJOBS.com describes AvTEG in a general way:

Selectee will operate in a joint service environment comprised of some of the most elite soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines in our armed forces. High motivation is a necessity. To be successful in this position, you must communicate exceptionally well with peers, subordinates and senior officials. JSOC is located on historic Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Fort Bragg is the home of the nation's premiere Special Operations and Airborne Forces. Employment with JSOC is your chance to join a dynamic, highly selective team of professionals working on the most critical national security issues. Ideally located along the I-95 corridor, Ft. Bragg is only a little over an hour's drive from the beach and within 2.5 hours of the mountains.

Serves as project lead for planning and coordination of airborne ISR requirements, acquisition, and budget execution with JSOC directorates, USSOCOM, and DOD for a broad range of ISR interests. Develops acquisition strategy and capability requirements. Performs DOTMLPF analysis to determine capability gaps and advise acquisition strategy for SOF capability solutions. Must be familiar with DOD and USSOCOM acquisition processes, to include JCIDS documentation and the POM. Participates, as SME, in working groups representing Command's requirements on the technical, managerial and financial aspects of ISR programs and their ability to meet cost, performance and schedule of assigned programs. Assignments typically involve serious or difficult to resolve conflicts requiring creativity and experienced judgment.

They do more than evaluate aviation and tactics.

A little Google searching turns up some interesting information about AvTEG.

It seems as if it's the unit that the government goes to when it needs to get a tough and secret aviation-related mission task accomplished. If the CIA needs a Russian helicopter for something, AvTEG will figure out how to get the CIA a Russian helicopter. 

One surmises that the unit does the same thing for the Delta Force and SEAL Team Six shooters. (For the cognoscenti: AvTEG is the modern day SEASPRAY.) 

One can also surmise that it's a very important SMU. The deputy commander of JSOC, Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, commanded AvTEG for two years ending in 2003. 

Why would I be revealing this information? I'm not. Fiel did. It's on his official DoD-approved biography.

This is a little weird.

People who work in this world say that AvTEG's existence is officially classified.

Except for when it isn't.


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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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