Our community and nation greatly benefit from our local military bases and auxiliary fields. Just south of Crestview, beginning at the Shoal River, lies Eglin Air Force Base. Eglin, the largest Air Force base in the world, covers three counties and over 724 square miles of land and 123,000 square miles into the Gulf of Mexico. More than 20,000 jobs and $1.4 billion are tied directly to activities at Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field and Duke Field. The total economic impact of Department of Defense (DOD) activity in Okaloosa County is over $7 billion—making it the largest employer since its inception in 1935, and making Okaloosa County the most Department of Defense-dependent county in the state. Eglin also comprises laboratories, test sites and 10 auxiliary fields, including Duke and Hurlburt Fields.
The Active Associate Unit is at Duke Field. The Air Force Reserve owns the aircraft and active duty provides aircrew and maintenance personnel to share the mission with reserve members. Duke Field is located just five miles south of Crestview and houses part of the 919th Special Operations Wing (SOW). The 919th SOW includes the 711th Special Operations Squadron (SOS), the 919th Maintenance Squadron (MXS), the 8th SOS, the 716th MXS and will soon be the home of the U.S. Army’s 7th Special Forces—along with subordinate units of the 1st SOW of Hurlburt Field.
The cantonment area at Eglin for the 7th SFG includes operations and maintenance facilities, housing, dining facilities and munitions storage and loading facilities. The area is located west of Duke Field on Highway 85. Accommodations for their training requirements include range space and airspace and scheduling for associated training missions. The cantonment area includes facilities for three Special Forces battalions; a motorized Special Forces battalion, a group support battalion and the group headquarters. Approximately 5.1 million square feet of buildings and hard surfaces were completed in 2011.
The 7th SFG, an operational unit of the U.S. Army Special Forces, was activated on May 20, 1960. Its purpose was to conduct unconventional operations and train allied armed forces in Central and South America. The 7th SFG today maintains a continuous presence throughout Central and South America, conducting Special operations missions in support of the U.S. Southern Command's Regional Engagement strategy. These missions make Special Forces unique in the U.S. military because they are employed throughout the three stages of the operational continuum: peacetime, conflict and war.
On an everyday basis, soldiers of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne) are deployed around the world, living up to their motto - De Oppresso Liber. "To Free the Oppressed."
The Air Force Special Operations Command’s (AFSOC) largest unit, the 1st SOW, is a native of Hurlburt Field. AFSOC units are responsible for providing specialized airpower and also equips, trains, educates and deploys Air Force Special Operations forces around the world. Hurlburt Field is located southeast of Crestview near Mary Esther and Highway 98. Other units based at Hurlburt Field include the 720th Special tactics Group (STG), 505th Command and Control Wing and the 823rd Red Horse Squadron.
Eglin Air Force Base also accommodates some associated organizations—such as the 6th Ranger Training Battalion, the 20th Space Control Squadron and the Explosive Ordinance Disposal of the Naval School.
Yes, Eglin Air Force Base and its components are a very large part of our land, our community, our economy, our lives and our nation.
Association of the United States Army
Emerald Coast Chapter