Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Cheree Kochen is a 23-year veteran of the US Air Force, retiring from Air Force Special Operations in 2021. She was commissioned in 1998 through the US Air Force Academy and earned her degree in Russian/Slavic area studies with a Russian language minor. In 2004, she completed her masters in International Relations from Troy University.
Lt Col Kochen began her operational career at Hurlburt Field, FL, flying AC-130U Gunships at the 4th Special Operations Squadron (SOS) in August 2000. During her 6 years at the 4th SOS, Lt Col Kochen deployed 8 times to fly missions supporting both Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).
Lt Col Kochen was then selected to become the first female Combat Aviation Advisor/Instructor assigned to the 6th SOS at Hurlburt Field, FL. The 6th SOS specialized in Foreign Internal Defense (FID) operations, and Lt Col Kochen worked to assess, train, advise and assist foreign aviation forces in the tactical use of their own aircraft. During her time in the 6th SOS, she flew C-130E/H, Russian AN-26 Antinov, Spanish CASA-235, and Cessna 208 aircraft while working with partner nation pilots.
In 2009, Lt Col Kochen attended an abbreviated Korean language course at the Defense Language Institute before moving to Seoul to become the lead air planner in the J5 office at Special Operations Command – Korea (SOCKOR). While at SOCKOR, she worked closely with her Korean counterparts at ROK Special Warfare Command revising the Combined Unconventional Warfare Task Force (CUWTF) supporting plans for UNC/CFC OPLAN 5027 and for the ROK JCS – UNC/CFC CONPLAN 5029. In 2012, Lt Col Kochen extended her tour in the SOCKOR J5 office and co-authored the new CUWTF UNC/CFC OPLAN 5015 that replaced the two previous versions.
After four years at SOCKOR HQ in Seoul, Lt Col Kochen decided to remain in Korea and moved to Osan Air Base. She took over as Director of the Combined Joint Special Operations Liaison Element (CJSOLE) and served as SOCKOR’s representative on the 7th Air Force Commander’s staff. She also oversaw the coordination for all daily special operations aviation missions in Korea.
After serving in South Korea for seven years, Lt Col Kochen returned to Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field to take over as the Director of Irregular Warfare Plans and Programs. She oversaw the planning and coordination of C-146, C-145 and Combat Aviation Advisor missions that specialized in Foreign Internal Defense (FID) operations. She was responsible for planning and managing Special Operations Command’s (SOCOM) high priority Combat Aviation Advisory (CAA) security cooperation engagements throughout the world.