Base Insider

Hurlburt Field Air Force Base in Mary Esther, FL

Hurlburt Field Air Force Base: A Haven of Military Excellence and Legacy

An Air Force Base with an Illustrious History

When one thinks of the Florida Panhandle, images of sunny beaches and vibrant cities often come to mind. Nevertheless, tucked away in the small town of Mary Esther lies Hurlburt Field Air Force Base, a military installation with an impressive legacy.

This article delves into the information and history of this remarkable military base, aiming to educate readers about its significance and contributions.

Topic 1: Information

Location and Facilities

Hurlburt Field Air Force Base is located in Mary Esther, Florida, adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico. Surrounded by beautiful beaches and a tranquil environment, the base spans over 6,700 acres of land.

It primarily serves as the headquarters for the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), encompassing various units such as the 1st Special Operations Wing and the Joint Special Operations University. The base boasts state-of-the-art facilities that enable efficient training, operations, and support for its personnel.

These facilities include a well-equipped fitness center, a top-notch medical facility, and modern housing for military families. Additionally, Hurlburt Field houses an array of aircraft, ranging from CV-22 Ospreys and AC-130 Gunships to MQ-1 Predators and MC-130 Combat Talons, all essential to its special operations missions.

Mission and Capabilities

The overarching mission of Hurlburt Field Air Force Base is to provide specialized air power, personnel, and joint capabilities in support of worldwide special operations. With a focus on unconventional warfare, counterterrorism, and direct action, the base’s personnel receive rigorous training and possess unique skill sets that contribute to the military’s overall effectiveness.

Hurlburt Field’s capabilities extend beyond combat operations. The base maintains a Special Tactics Training Squadron, which trains individuals in combat control, pararescue, and tactical air control.

These highly skilled personnel are capable of operating in austere and hostile environments, providing crucial assistance during humanitarian relief efforts and rescue missions.

Topic 2: History

Origins and Early Years

Hurlburt Field Air Force Base traces its roots back to 1935 when the federal government acquired land in Okaloosa County for the creation of Eglin Field, named after Lieutenant Colonel Frederick I. Eglin.

Initially, Eglin Field served as a bombing and gunnery range, quickly becoming instrumental during World War II for training aviators and developing air-to-air combat techniques. In 1950, Eglin Field’s mission shifted to include support for developing airborne firepower tactics, leading to the establishment of Hurlburt Field near Fort Walton Beach.

Named after First Lieutenant Donald Wilson Hurlburt, an exceptional fighter pilot who tragically passed away during a training flight, Hurlburt Field became a standalone base dedicated to unconventional warfare.

Key Milestones and Modernization Efforts

Over the years, Hurlburt Field Air Force Base has seen significant milestones and continuous modernization efforts. In 1961, the base launched the Combat Skyspot program, a radar system that provided accurate targeting for artillery.

The program’s success was pivotal during the Vietnam War, where Combat Skyspot helped guide artillery fire against enemy positions. The 1970s witnessed the arrival of the AC-130H Spectre gunship, an aircraft renowned for its ability to loiter over hostile territory and deliver massive firepower.

Additionally, the 1980s marked the debut of the CV-22 Osprey, a hybrid aircraft capable of vertical takeoff and landing, as well as traditional fixed-wing operations. In recent years, Hurlburt Field has played an integral role in counterterrorism efforts, particularly in the Middle East.

Its AC-130 gunships and MQ-1 Predators have proven invaluable for intelligence gathering and precision strikes against high-value targets.

Legacy and Recognition

Hurlburt Field Air Force Base’s contributions have not gone unnoticed. Throughout its history, the base and its personnel have received numerous awards and accolades.

From distinguished unit citations to Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards, Hurlburt Field exemplifies excellence and dedication to the mission. Moreover, Hurlburt Field’s legacy is effectively showcased through the Hurlburt Field Memorial Air Park, featuring aircraft that symbolize the key eras and missions of the base.

This open-air museum serves as a visual testament to the bravery and sacrifice of those who have served at Hurlburt Field throughout the years.


As we conclude our exploration of Hurlburt Field Air Force Base in Mary Esther, Florida, it becomes evident that this military installation surpasses the idyllic image often associated with the Sunshine State. Hurlburt Field prides itself on its commitment to specialized air power, unconventional warfare, and counterterrorism efforts.

Through its state-of-the-art facilities and skilled personnel, this base continues to contribute to the military’s overall effectiveness and stands as a symbol of excellence.

Topic 3: Mission

Enabling Global Special Operations: Hurlburt Field’s Crucial Role

The Strategic Importance of Hurlburt Field’s Mission

Hurlburt Field Air Force Base in Mary Esther, Florida, serves as the epicenter for global special operations.

Its mission focuses on providing specialized air power, highly skilled personnel, and advanced joint capabilities to support unconventional warfare, counterterrorism efforts, and direct action operations worldwide. This article delves into the details of Hurlburt Field’s mission, highlighting its strategic significance and the crucial role it plays in maintaining national and international security.

The Pillars of Hurlburt Field’s Mission

  1. Special Operations Capabilities: Hurlburt Field’s mission is deeply rooted in special operations capabilities.
  2. Special operations forces are known for their ability to operate in complex and challenging environments, requiring specialized training and equipment. The base houses units such as the 1st Special Operations Wing, which brings together a diverse range of platforms and specialists to carry out special operations missions.

    These missions often involve intelligence collection, reconnaissance, and direct action against high-value targets.

  3. Unconventional Warfare: Hurlburt Field specializes in unconventional warfare, which involves operating outside of traditional conventional military methods and tactics.
  4. Unconventional warfare is typically carried out by small, highly skilled units capable of integrating with local populations to achieve strategic objectives.

    Hurlburt Field’s emphasis on unconventional warfare training ensures that its personnel are equipped with the necessary skills to build relationships with indigenous forces, conduct guerrilla warfare, and support resistance movements when necessary.

  5. Counterterrorism Efforts: A significant aspect of Hurlburt Field’s mission is countering the global threat of terrorism.
  6. Deploying highly trained personnel and advanced technology, the base supports various counterterrorism operations.

    These operations can include gathering intelligence, infiltrating terrorist networks, and carrying out precision strikes against high-value targets. Hurlburt Field’s capabilities play a vital role in disrupting and dismantling terrorist organizations globally, safeguarding national and international security.

  7. Joint Special Operations Capabilities: Hurlburt Field serves as a hub for joint special operations capabilities, fostering seamless collaboration among various branches of the armed forces.
  8. The base hosts the Joint Special Operations University (JSOU), which provides advanced education, training, and research to enhance joint special operations effectiveness. This collaborative approach ensures that personnel from different branches, such as the Army, Navy, and Air Force, can effectively integrate their capabilities, leading to enhanced operational outcomes.

Training and Readiness

The success of Hurlburt Field’s mission depends on the high level of training and readiness of its personnel. The base maintains a rigorous training program that emphasizes physical fitness, tactical proficiency, and mental fortitude.

Special operations forces go through an intensive selection process, identifying individuals with the attributes necessary for success in demanding and high-stress environments. Once selected, personnel undergo specialized training tailored to their assigned roles.

For example, combat control teams receive extensive training in air traffic control, pathfinding, and pararescue operations. Pararescue personnel undergo intense medical training to provide critical medical support in combat environments.

The base’s commitment to continuous training ensures that personnel remain proficient in their respective skills and are prepared to face the challenges of their specialized missions.

Cooperation with Allied and Partner Nations

Hurlburt Field recognizes the importance of international cooperation in achieving its mission. The base actively collaborates with allied and partner nations, fostering relationships and conducting joint training exercises.

These partnerships allow for the exchange of tactics, techniques, and procedures, enabling interoperability and enhancing the collective abilities of all parties involved. Through joint exercises and training programs, Hurlburt Field builds international capacity, enhances regional security, and strengthens relationships with partner nations.

The base’s commitment to international cooperation demonstrates the broader vision of contributing to global stability, promoting shared values, and addressing common threats and challenges.

Supporting Humanitarian Relief Efforts

While Hurlburt Field is primarily focused on military operations, it also plays a significant role in supporting humanitarian relief efforts. Special operations forces have unique capabilities in disaster response, providing essential assistance to affected populations during natural disasters or other humanitarian crises.

These capabilities include rapid deployment, search and rescue, medical support, and logistics management. Hurlburt Field’s personnel are trained to operate in austere and challenging environments, where traditional response mechanisms may be limited.

Their ability to rapidly assess and provide critical aid in such situations is invaluable. By leveraging their specialized skills, the base’s personnel enhance the United States’ ability to respond to humanitarian crises worldwide, saving lives and alleviating human suffering.


Hurlburt Field Air Force Base in Mary Esther, Florida, serves as a vital asset in enabling global special operations. With an unwavering commitment to unconventional warfare, counterterrorism efforts, and joint special operations capabilities, the base plays a crucial role in maintaining national and international security.

Through rigorous training, international cooperation, and the ability to support humanitarian relief efforts, Hurlburt Field’s mission extends beyond combat operations, emphasizing the importance of resilience, adaptability, and a commitment to serving humanity.

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