Reaper squadron activates at Cannon

By Kevin Wilson: Freedom New Mexico

It’s time, Lt. Col. Michael Bruzzini said, for America’s enemies to fear the Reaper.

At 1:33 p.m. Friday the 33rd Special Operations Squadron activated at Cannon Air Force Base under the command of Bruzzini in a ceremony at The Landing Zone. A key component of the squadron’s support mission is the Reaper, an unmanned aircraft system.

The squadron, inactivated and reactivated five times since its 1917 reorganization at Camp Kelly, Texas, moved into its newest designation as a special operations squadron.

Col. Paul Caltigirone, deputy group commander of the 27th Special Operations Group, said the 33rd squadron was unlike any other activated at the base during its transition from a fighter base to Special Operations Command.

“Its sole mission is to find, fix and finish those enemies of the United States of America that wish to do us harm,” Caltigirone said.

Cannon is the 10th assignment for Bruzzini, who has logged more than 3,200 hours flight time, including 390 combat hours and 1,140 combat support hours.

“Over the past six months, these individuals have been operating out of no less than five locations,” Bruzzini said, “introducing themselves to the AFSOC community; developing relationships, tactics, techniques and procedures with their Air Commando brethren; becoming experts in a new weapon system, establishing a cohesive fighting force.”

Bruzzini said the Reaper is a necessary aspect of fighting terrorism with precision and financial efficiency. The aircraft can provide real-time surveillance and fighting capabilities, and can be disassembled and loaded into a container for worldwide deployment.

But most of the credit for the squadron’s mission of supporting ground forces, Bruzzini said, goes to the 27 men currently joining him to form the 33rd.

“This unit is more than ready to answer our nation’s call to duty,” Bruzzini said. “The MQ-9 is an awesome platform, but it is these individuals that will make our enemies truly fear the Reaper.”