Military News

Monday, October 05, 2015

357th FS, 22nd STS team up for austere landings

by Senior Airman Betty R. Chevalier
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/2/2015 - FORT IRWIN, Calif. -- Four A-10C Thunderbolt II pilots from the 357th Fighter Squadron conduct austere landing training at the National Training Center range at Fort Irwin, California, Sept. 22, while participating in Green Flag-West 15-10.

The training involved the landing of A-10s on the unimproved surface of Bicycle Lake Army Airfield's dry lake bed.
The 22nd Special Tactics Squadron from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington supported the training by performing air traffic control, surveying the area and testing the density of the ground to ensure the aircraft could land safely.

"The purpose of conducting austere landing training is to practice and demonstrate the capability to launch and recover aircraft on a surface that is not designed or maintained to bear the loads and weights of a heavily armed aircraft," said Maj. Mark Malan, 357th Fighter Squadron A-10 pilot. "This capability can be vital to combat and contingency operations at locations and environments where U.S. and coalition forces have a very limited footprint."

"This task demonstrated that we maintain a unique capability to operate and integrate in a forward-deployed austere location and that this increases our ability to coordinate and work in close proximity to the U.S. Army and their coalition counterparts," Malan said. "The ability to operate out of an austere location allows us to extend the range and reach of our combat capability, access additional target sets and provide extended long-range support to other assets involved in contingency operations."
"The A-10 was specifically designed with a more robust landing gear system to handle the stress of take-offs and landings on an unimproved surface and high-mounted wings above the fuselage to prevent damage from foreign objects and debris that may be laying on the runway and taxi surfaces," Malan said.

At the end of the training, the aircraft had successfully landed and took- off from the dirt runway with the guidance of the CCT, ultimately qualifying three pilots in austere landing.

Although the rare training was not part of Green Flag-West, the 357th FS took advantage of resources already in the area and coordinated the operations with Fort Irwin and the 22nd STS.

"A-10 pilots do not normally conduct this type of training," Malan said. "I've only done it twice in the 17 years I've been flying the A-10 and I know most A-10 pilots have never done it. We try to take advantage of every opportunity to get additional pilots qualified and increase the experience of those pilots that are already qualified."
In the U.S. Air Force aircraft inventory, there are many aircraft with the capability to land on austere runways, including the C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules and rotary aircraft. The A-10 is the only fighter-type aircraft with this ability.

RAF Mildenhall joins 100th BG Veterans in New Orleans reunion

by Senior Airman Victoria H. Taylor
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

10/1/2015 - RAF MILDENHALL, England-- -- Aug. 17, 1943, nine aircraft, 90 men lost at Regensbuerg, Germany.
Oct. 8, 1943, seven aircraft, 72 men lost in Bremen, Germany.
Oct. 10, 1943, 12 aircraft, 121 men lost in Munster, Germany.
March 6, 1944, 15 aircraft, 150 men lost in Berlin, Germany.
May 24, 1944, nine aircraft, 90 men lost in Berlin, Germany.
July 29, 1944, eight aircraft, 72 men lost in Merseburg, Germany.
Sept. 11, 1944, 12 aircraft, 100 men lost in Ruhland, Germany.
Dec. 31, 1944, 12 aircraft, 111 men lost in Hamburg, Germany.

They weren't the first to arrive in the United Kingdom during World War ll. They didn't fly the most missions over Europe, drop the most bombs from their B-17 Flying Fortresses or, as many believe, suffer the greatest casualties. They obtained awards and earned recognition, but other groups won more.

Numbers alone did not make the group one of the most notorious combat units in the history of the U.S. Air Force. However, eight significant missions did, earning them the name "The Bloody Hundredth."

Nearly 72 years later, 27 veterans of the 100th Bombardment Group, alongside their families, historians, volunteers and enthusiasts joined together for a long weekend Sept. 24 to Sept. 27 in New Orleans, La., but dropping bombs was not on the reunion's itinerary.

"[We all] have a personal story to tell," said Dan Rosenthal, 100th BG Foundation president and son of World War ll veteran Robert "Rosie" Rosenthal. "Whether it's a first-hand account or an experience recanted by our fathers and grandfathers; whether we uncovered a box of medals in a bedroom bureau or a forgotten journal in the attic; all these things create a tapestry of our shared history. And these stories, both real and intimate, must be kept alive."

Held in a different location every other year for more than 40 years, the reunion gives the opportunity for vets to tell their stories, visit old friends and share a few laughs while participating in an eventful schedule.

Even the New Orleans muggy heat didn't stop the veterans and families from sporting their leather flight jackets to the kick-off event. Members were able to tour not only a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to RAF Mildenhall, but also the B-17 Flying Fortress "Movie" Memphis Belle, both sporting the distinct Square D tail flash.

The Bloody Hundredth's past and present was represented by more than just aircraft. A group of Airmen currently stationed at RAF Mildenhall attended the event, and were afforded the opportunity to spend time with the legacy members.

"It was an extremely humbling experience," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Faux, 100th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker flying crew chief. "Being able to speak with the individuals and their children and grandchildren about the things aircraft maintainers and pilots had to do back then and things we do now was amazing. It was a lot of fun comparing our daily duties from then to now."

Faux said he met a crew chief who had worked on both B-17s and KC-135s, and the stories he shared left the staff sergeant astonished.

"The things crew chiefs did during his service made my jaw drop," Faux said. "One story was him removing skin from one B-17 to put it on another that had encountered battle damage." It isn't a task that has to be done these days.

Despite the difference and decades separating their service in the Bloody Hundredth, there was an undeniable connection between members of the historic unit.

"Every single person I met at the 100th Bomb Group Reunion inspired me to keep our traditions alive and never forget where we came from," Faux added. "More importantly, the men and women who've paved the way for all of us still flying the Square D."

New Orleans is also home to the National World War ll museum, where the visitors were able to spend time absorbing the vast amount of information and artifacts spread about the three separate buildings, and enjoy an evening symposium recounting the first airborne humanitarian food aid mission in history.

Although the weekend's main focus was the get-together amongst the veterans, Ryan Neel, 16, nephew to World War ll veteran Clay McIver, was astounded by everything he was taking in.

"It's an honor to meet all these amazing men. Hearing their stories and just trying to imagine what they must have seen when they were just about my age, I didn't realize how much it was going to impact me emotionally," said Neel. "I've been learning things that you can't read in history books, and it's an experience I'll never forget."

Without losing steam, the events ran throughout the weekend. From business meetings to presentations, to music and dancing after an extravagant dinner, the occasion never had a dull moment.

"Why do I keep coming back to these reunions?" World War ll veteran Frank "Bud" Buchmeier asked with a huge smile growing larger on his face. "To see how much older all these guys got since the last one!"

More than 300 people accepted the invitation for the reunion and though it was meant to be a long weekend, most felt that it ended too soon. All exchanged their goodbyes ensuring each other they would meet again in two years' time, but hold dear the experiences they shared.

"My father has been gone for precisely 15 years," said Chip Culpepper, son of World War ll veteran Conley E. Culpepper. "But because of the 100th Bomb Group veterans, reunion organizers, volunteers and presenters, I truly felt that I was able to spend an entire weekend with him. For that, I'm humbly grateful."

Pushing Freedom

by Capt Jose A. Quintanilla
721st Aerial Port Squadron

10/5/2015 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- After 21 difficult stages covering a grueling distance of 3,360 kilometers, this year's Tour de France came to a conclusion as competitors from 22 teams crossed the finish line. The teams rode 225 kilometers daily for three weeks over both flat and exceedingly mountainous and challenging terrain.

Unlike the majority of racing sports where a single competitor wins the race by crossing the finish line in first position, in the Tour de France, each team has eight riders and a leader. The eight riders, known as domestiques, set up their leader for the win. They are charged with protecting, setting the pace and chasing down attacks by other teams for their leader to succeed.

"These guys know full well they, as individuals, are not there to win," said Senior Master Sgt. Wayne D. Donnelly, the 721st Aerial Port Squadron superintendent, during a recent squadron commander's call. "Their job is to create a clear path for their leader to speed forward past the competition, in essence, pushing him across the finish line."

Donnelly further assimilated this style of teamwork to what we do within the Air Force, where as supporting functions, we enable the mission to be executed - thus "Pushing Freedom" across the globe.

The 721st APS, located at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, is responsible for the movement of passengers, aircraft fleet servicing, command and control operations, and moves more than 62 percent of Department of Defense cargo in support of five combatant commands.

Over the summer, 721st APS Airmen were challenged with uploading an open staircase truck and two fire engines onto a C-17 Globemaster III in support of President Barack Obama's visit to Africa. Our air transportation personnel sprang into action and developed aircraft load plans, requested updated Air Transportability Test Loading Agency letters and planned and coordinated the upload of these three critical assets with other base agencies.

With only four inches of clearance between the two fire engines, 721st APS Ramp Services personnel took extreme caution to ensure the vehicles were uploaded on the C-17 in a safe and timely manner. Communication was critical between the spotters, operators and aircraft loadmaster during the entire upload, which proved critical to mission success.

Having executed a timely and safe upload, the C-17 crew departed Ramstein AB en route to Kenya prior to President Obama's arrival. However, the 721st APS was still on the clock and ready to support President Obama when he passed back through Ramstein AB the following week. The APS Airmen executed flawless material handling equipment support and fleet servicing operations on Air Force One, ensuring President Obama was able to meet his other commitments.

And so, just as the Tour de France teams, we may not always be the ones crossing the finish line in first place, but our supporting actions are critical in placing our leaders in a position to make a positive impact in the world and in doing so, we are the ones who are "Pushing Freedom" across the globe.

Air Force pilot takes local veterans flying in vintage P-13 Stearman aircraft

by Airman 1st Class Jessica B. Nelson
9th Reconnaissance WIng Public Affairs

10/1/2015 - Beale Air Force Base, Calif. -- For the past three and a half years the Aerospace Museum of California and its volunteers have displayed and maintained a very unique P-13 Stearman. The plane is owned by Lt. Col. Andrew McVicker, 9th Operations Group deputy commander.

"The P-13 Stearman is open cockpit so typically flying it in the winter isn't much fun," said McVicker. "Initially I envisioned just putting it on loan through the winter but when I found out I was deploying in the spring they offered to continue to store the plane for me while I was gone."

As a gesture of appreciation for looking after his plane while he was deployed, McVicker took eight museum volunteers flying in his P-13. The first of which was a WWII veteran.

"I learned 72 years ago this month how to fly a Stearman when I was in the Army Air Corps," said Maynard Nelson, a WWII pilot.

Nelson served as a B-24 pilot in the Army Air Corps during WWII. The P-13 Stearman planes were used as trainers for all pilots, service wide. Nelson reflected on his time flying the Stearman in an interview on Wednesday.

"You had to push the airplane to its limits," Nelson said. "You needed to know everything the plane could do, and what enemy airplanes could do so you could play your own strength in a dogfight."

The volunteers at the museum have watched over the P-13 for more than three years. Most of them are veterans and share a special interest in this plane.

"The volunteers keep an eye on the plane, making sure delicate parts are kept safe while people view the plane on display," McVicker said. "The museum made a nice placard that tells the history of the aircraft and how it was used when it was in military service, and the volunteers will help interpret that for the visitors."

Many volunteers had personal experiences with the P-13 Stearman while they served. The excitement the volunteers expressed when exiting the cockpit after their flight was clear.

"It was very generous of McVicker to give us rides in his plane," Nelson said. "I have hundreds of pictures of the people I've taken on flights when I owned a Stearman, and the pictures just don't do justice to the experience."

77 Air Base Wing transfers to AFGSC

20th Air Force Pubilc Affairs

10/5/2015 - F.E. WARREN AFB, Wyo. -- The 377 Air Base Wing at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, became part of 20th Air Force Oct. 1, 2015 as it shifts from Air Force Material Command to Air Force Global Strike Command.

The 377th ABW, along with the 28th Bomb Wing from Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, and the 7th BW from Dyess AFB, Texas, moved into AFGSC as part of a consolidation of missions into AFGSC numbered air forces.

The consolidation of the 377th along with the three AF ICBM wings into 20th AF is specifically intended to help streamline the nuclear enterprise by placing operational mission support within the AF's nuclear major command.  The move of the B-1s from the 28th BW and the 7th BW from Air Combat Command into 8th AF will consolidate all the AF's bombers into one NAF within AFGSC.

Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, commander of 20th AF, said "The U.S. Air Force is always seeking to improve the way we do business.  The transfer of the 377 Air Base Wing highlights the continued improvements the Air Force is making in the nuclear enterprise to ensure we remain the most credible, capable and reliable force for our Nation."

General Weinstein further stated that the nuclear capabilities of the U.S. military form the backbone of U.S. national security.

The realignment of the 377th ABW is designed to enhance operational and maintenance support to multiple organizations, providing vital expertise within the nuclear enterprise, to include:  The Department of Energy, Sandia National Laboratories, The Air Force Research Laboratory, The Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, The Space and Missile Systems Center, The Air Force Inspection Agency and The Air Force Safety Center.

The move of the 377th to 20th AF will not affect employment within the surrounding communities of Kirtland AFB and will primarily be administrative in nature.  The 377 ABW will continue to serve as the host installation for various tenant units at Kirtland AFB. Approximately 1,796 military and government civilians will be realigned from AFMC to AFGSC, but will still remain at their current positions.

Weinstein added, "The stewardship of Kirtland AFB under Air Force Material Command was second to none.  We are proud to welcome the 377th to 20 AF and we will strive to continue their superb legacy and warfighter support to our Air Force."

Rivet Joint crew earns 2015 General Jerome F. O'Malley Award

by Staff Sgt. Rachelle Blake
55th Wing Public Affairs

10/1/2015 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- The Air Force Association recently recognized an RC-135V/W Rivet Joint flying crew as the 2015 General Jerome F. O'Malley Award winners.

Each year, the title is given to the best reconnaissance crew in the U.S. Air Force.

The award's namesake was a U.S Air Force pilot who was stationed in several reconnaissance wings. O'Malley acquired more than 5,000 flying hours during his thirty-plus years of service.

"I am extremely proud of what our Fightin' Fifth members are doing on a daily basis around the world and this team certainly deserved to be recognized for their actions," said U.S. Air Force Col. Marty Reynolds, 55th Wing commander.

This year's winning crew was comprised of Airmen from the 38th Reconnaissance Squadron, 97th Intelligence Squadron, and 55th Intelligence Support Squadron. They were recognized for their actions during their deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in 2014.

As stated in the award citation, their outstanding contributions ensured dedicated airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance coverage was available to support American and coalition forces attempting to locate a downed pilot who had been captured by enemy fighters.  Their actions also supported the larger efforts of OIR.

"This crew answered the call as our wing has done now for more than 25 straight years in the CENTCOM AOR," Reynolds said. "I'm truly humbled and honor to be their teammates and I congratulate them on their honor."

They received the award in conjunction with the 2015 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition in National Harbor, Maryland.

Shelter from the storm: Barksdale welcomes East Coast visitors

by Airman 1st Class Curt Beach
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

10/2/2015 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Hundreds of aircrew and a fleet of more than 65 aircraft including F-15E Strike Eagles and KC-135 Stratotankers arrived here, Oct. 1-2, to avoid potential damage from Hurricane Joaquin along the East Coast.

The aircraft and their crews are from the 916th Air Refueling Wing and 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, and will be sharing space on the Barksdale flightline through the weekend.

"It is with great pleasure that we welcome our fellow combat warriors to Barksdale Air Force Base and the Shreveport-Bossier Area," said Col. Kristin Goodwin, 2nd Bomb Wing commander. "We are primed to ensure Seymour Johnson Airmen have a comfortable stay as we welcome them with Barksdale's southern hospitality."

Hurricane Joaquin, a Category 4 storm with winds up to 130 mph, battered the Bahamas and was initially forecasted to move toward the U.S. and through the Carolinas. Governors have declared states of emergency in at least five states due to potential flash flooding regardless of the storm's path.

"It's great that the Air Force has facilities where aircraft can escape to in order to evade harm or weather elements," said William Flentge, 2nd Operations Support Squadron airfield manager. "It's nice to have a facility that can accommodate fighter aircraft. We've had extensive improvements to the airfield pavement over the past two years."

Barksdale's B-52 Stratofortresses will not be adversely affected by the visiting aircraft, and flight operations will continue as scheduled, Flentge said.

Last year, Seymour Johnson's aircraft were relocated to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, as a precautionary measure to protect them from Hurricane Arthur.

"I want to personally thank everyone in advance for their efforts to keep the Airmen, families, the base and defense assets safe in the coming days," said Col. Mark Slocum, 4th FW commander.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

111th Attack Wing plays crucial role planning, safeguarding papal visit

by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond
111th Attack Wing Public Affairs

9/30/2015 - HORSHAM AIR GUARD STATION, Pa. -- Members of the 111th Attack Wing played a key role at the Pennsylvania National Guard Headquarters in the days leading up to and during the highly-anticipated papal visit Sept. 26-27, for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

The Attack Wing Guardsmen, staged at Fort Indiantown Gap, were critical in the planning process and maintained readiness in the event of emergency situations requiring National Guard intervention during the first papal visit to Philadelphia in over 35 years.

"My role here is as an air planner to coordinate and integrate with the Army," said Lt. Col. Scott Meier, 111th Air Operations Group deputy group commander, and member of the Joint Task Force. "[The Pennsylvania Army National Guard] has the lead on this and we're coming in to support with any background knowledge that we have and might be able to fill them in. If something happens that we have not planned for then we need to truly organize crisis action planning and come up with a strategy to move folks into place."

Lt. Col. Fred Phelan, 111th AOG member and also part of the JTF, stated that his work as a wing member translated well to his assignment at the state headquarters. He also acknowledges that while some operations and acronyms differ between the Army and Air sides of the National Guard, accomplishing the overall mission trumps any variations.

"We have the one overall common core," said Phelan. "We have that bond that we are all from the state of Pennsylvania, serving at the request of the governor, so the Army and the Air Force here have a seamless transition and a unity of effort."

The Guardsmen of the 111th ATKW all agree that their work and experience at the wing level  helped to fulfill the needs of the state when they were called upon to do so.

"What we've learned [back at home station] is the job process, which is a joint process that allows us to speak a common language with the Army, Navy and Marine Corps who are here now," said Meier. "So, as we come to sit down and plan, we're all able to operate off of the same things: common language, common vocabulary, working towards the goal together."

But being called up in support of a domestic operation, such as support of the papal visit, also requires Guardsmen to be prepared to work in any facet needed by the state-not just what they do at home station.

Brig. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania Deputy Adjutant General-Air, said that domestic operations, like the papal visit, are completely different from the federal mission in that they may require members to fill roles outside of their Air Force Specialty Codes.

"We're all eligible to be put on state active duty," said Carrelli.  "If the governor calls, we're going. And you may be from finance, you may be from public affairs, you may be from logistics, but I may need you to do traffic control...I may need you to do reassurance in our communities. So, you may not always be called to do your AFSC."

While the general maintains that members of the National Guard are always eligible for state activation--requiring them to fill any role necessary-the papal visit called upon Attack Wing members skills seemingly tailor-made for this operation.

"I know that our Guardsmen will answer the call and no matter what [they] are asked to do, [they] will be ready and do a great job," said Carrelli. "That's who we are."

Utah's 151st Maintenance Group wins ANG Outstanding Unit Award

by Staff Sgt. Annie Edwards
151 ARW/PA

9/30/2015 - SALT LAKE CITY -- The 151st Maintenance Group was awarded the Air Force Association 2015 Air National Guard Outstanding Unit Award at a ceremony in National Harbor, Maryland, Sept. 14.

The award, which covered achievements from Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2014, recognized the unit for exceptionally meritorious service, and cited their dedication, work ethic, and sound maintenance practices.

The group attained an 81 percent mission capable rate, exceeding the Air Force's refueling fleet average of 73.57 percent.

Col. Susan Melton, commander of the 151st Maintenance Group, praised the hard work and efforts of the entire unit.

"I am very proud to be a part of our great organization and am so thrilled for each and every member who is so critical to ensuring we are successful in our mission and so deserving of this award," said Melton. "The men and women of the MXG are very dedicated and work extremely hard every day to keep our aircraft in as good of shape as they are in."

In addition to achieving a high mission capable rate, during this time the group also deployed more than 120 individuals and several aircraft in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Inherent Resolve, and agile combat for Air Force operations and North Atlantic Treaty Organization operations.

"We can't be successful in our mission without the contributions of each and every member," said Melton. "I am so proud and impressed every day with how well these maintainers are able to keep our 51-plus-year-old jets flying and in such great shape."

The 151st flew more than 5,420 hours in the past fiscal year, a record high for the unit.

Guard aeromedical teams strengthen skills during Vigilant Guard

by Tech. Sergeants Lynette Olivares and Paul Santikko
133rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

9/29/2015 - Camp Ripley Training Center, Minn. -- The capabilities of the Minnesota National Guard's 109th Aeromedical Squadron were recently put to the test during Vigilant Guard, a state-wide exercise to improve the state's military and civilian responders' ability to work together during a natural disaster.

Vigilant Guard is a United States Northern Command and National Guard Bureau sponsored exercise designed to improve emergency coordination, response and recovery management with federal, regional, local, civilian and military partners.

During natural disasters or other state emergencies, saving time saves lives. If civilian capabilities are overwhelmed, National Guard and other military resources can be called upon to move critical patients from remote scenes to distant medical facilities quickly.

"Our role in the exercise is to stabilize and transport patients from the field to higher echelons of care," said 109th AES Director of Operations Maj. Jeramy Browning. "Our highly-trained flight medics care for sick and wounded patients, maintain their health and well-being aboard the plane, getting them to the definitive care they need. Being able to participate in this exercise helps us refresh protocol and procedures of working with civil authorities, sister services as well as state and local entities."

During the exercise, the aircrew and medical team of the 109th transported simulated patients from the 133rd Airlift Wing in St. Paul to Camp Ripley. On arrival, the team worked with other National Guard medical personnel to transport additional mock patients from UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters to the unit's C-130H Hercules aircraft to simulate the continuation of care during a state emergency.

"This exercise gives us a great opportunity to improve our interoperability with the Army Guard, civilian healthcare providers and emergency response personnel," said Aeromedical Evacuation Technician Staff Sgt. Britt Monio. "In the event of a future, real world scenario like this, we know that we will be well prepared and the incident command system should run effectively, so that patients get the medical care they need in the fastest and safest way possible."

Using volunteers portraying victims, the 109th Airmen trained on a variety of in-flight processes and procedures, including litter carries across a flight line, checking and maintaining vital signs, and maintaining the overall care of patients in flight.

"Every single person in our squadron loves what they do," said Browning. "I'm so proud of my unit and the great work they do - whether it's on base during a drill weekend or they are flying around the state or world helping people with their outstanding level of care."

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Work Chronicles History at Fleet Ballistic Missile Program Event

By Amaani Lyle DoD News Features, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, October 3, 2015 — The Navy’s Fleet Ballistic Missile Program has a six-decade record of safety, reliability and “pure operational excellence” that is extremely hard, if not impossible, to match, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said last night at the program’s 60th anniversary celebration in Falls Church, Virginia.

Work said he discussed with his British counterparts the U.S. partnership with the United Kingdom’s Continuous At Sea Deterrent program during a recent visit there, and he noted that program began with aa historic 1962 meeting between President John F. Kennedy and British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, which led to the Polaris Sales Agreement. 

The close partnership in nuclear deterrence continues today, the deputy secretary said.

“Just a few weeks ago, one of our missile boats, the U.S.S. Wyoming concluded a successful visit to Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde in Faslane, Scotland,” Work said, adding that it was the first U.S. fleet ballistic missile submarine to visit to a foreign port since 2003. “These visible examples of the deep cooperation and mutual support between our two countries do not go unnoticed by our adversaries.”

Despite the scope of deterrence provided by the U.S. Navy’s ballistic missile submarine force today, Work said, he finds it hard to believe the Navy came close to being without a strategic deterrent mission. 

In the late 1940s, he said, the Navy attempted to develop a supercarrier that could handle the nuclear bomber, a program canceled by the Truman administration just as the keel was laid for the first of those supercarriers.

‘Revolt of the Admirals’

A public disagreement known as the “Revolt of the Admirals” occurred in protest of plans to shrink the Navy and instead augment the Air Force’s strategic nuclear bombing role as the primary means of the nation’s defense, Work said, and the Navy didn’t fare much better in the early years of the Eisenhower administration, which diverted funding for nuclear weapons to the Air Force and the Army. 

Work credited the foresight and determination of Adms. Arleigh Burke and William F. Raborn, part of a small but influential group in the Navy, who he said believed it was possible to safely launch a long-range nuclear missile from a submarine.

The Navy established special projects office, with Raborn in charge, to push what would become the Polaris missile program. The project became a high priority, and required overcoming various hurdles to incorporating ballistic missile capability into submarines, Before the Polaris, the deputy secretary said, nuclear warheads weighed 1,600 pounds, missiles stood six stories tall, and the idea of liquid rocket fuel sloshing around inside a submarine was a frightening thought.

Pushing Boundaries

Scientists such as Harold Brown, who would later become defense secretary during the Carter administration, and physicists such as Edward Teller continued to push the boundaries of nuclear weapons design and innovation at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, Work said.

“They developed a smaller, lighter nuclear warhead that could be put atop a missile carried vertically inside a silo,” he explained. “And the Polaris warhead’s radical new technology was an absolute turning point in nuclear weapon design, establishing breakthroughs that have been adopted in almost every subsequent warhead we have developed.”

As the new warhead was taking shape, Raborn’s Special Project Office finalized the design of a solid-fuel rocket motor. 

Still, Work noted, challenges remained for the Polaris missile’s development. He cited Rear Adm. Robert Wertheim, the fourth director of Strategic Systems Programs, who was present at last night’s event.

“As our early test missiles were raining down from the skies over Cape Canaveral, we learned to use a new code,” he quoted from an article Wertheim had written. “For example, ‘successful launch’ would mean ‘didn’t blow up until after leaving the launch pad.’ Or, ‘successful first-stage flight’ meant ‘went out of control and was destroyed during second-stage flight.’” 

Of the first 17 Polaris flights, only five flew as planned, Work said. Today, he added, with that record, the program probably would be cancelled. But that was never even considered back then, he said. That faith is vindicated today, with 155 of 157 Trident missile launches being successful, Work said.

Operational Missile Boat

As problems were being resolved with Polaris, the Navy still needed a submarine to carry it, Work noted. “In 1957, long before the bugs were even worked out in the Polaris A-1, Burke declared the Navy was going to have an operational missile boat in three years.”

So, Work said, Navy officials at the submarine yards at Groton, Connecticut, cut the hull of the attack submarine Scorpion in half and added a missile compartment. On July 20, 1960, at 12:39 p.m., the first Polaris missile was fired from the George Washington, Work said. Since that day, the U.S. Navy has conducted more than 4,035 strategic deterrent patrols, he said.

Defense Department Commitment

Today, Work said, the Defense Department remains committed to maintaining the fleet’s strategic weapon system in the Ohio replacement program.

He acknowledged the program will be a “heavy lift” in today’s budgetary environment, but he pledged that it will continue, because the nation’s security depends on a survivable and reliable second strike capability that only ballistic missile submarines provide. 

“The end of the Cold War did not end great-power politics,” Work said. It’s  been reawakened with a vengeance. “We see it plainly in Russia’s aggressive actions in Eastern Europe and Syria, and we see it in China’s emergence as a military power and its belligerent actions in the South China Sea.”

Friday, October 02, 2015

Airmen enable largest CR exercise in AF history, Cerberus Strike

by Tech. Sgt. Matthew Hannen
621st Contingency Response Wing

10/2/2015 - COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Contingency response Airmen from the 821st Contingency Response Group recently planned, directed and executed the largest self-contained contingency response exercise in Air Force history from Sept. 8-19.

Approximately 150 Airmen from the 821st CRG at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., subordinate unit of the 621st Contingency Response Wing--with bicoastal units located at Travis AFB and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst AFB, N.J.--conducted Exercise Cerberus Strike, a joint contingency response exercise operating out of five locations in California and Colorado. This unique exercise, whose name was derived from the mascot of the lead squadron, was hosted by the 821st CRG, supported by Air Mobility Liaison Officers, and executed alongside aircrews from three different airframes, demonstrated the spectrum of CR capabilities that make up Air Mobility Command's airlift support mission sets.

One of the core capabilities of the 621st CRW is enhancing and extending the nation's global enroute architecture in order to rapidly respond to crises and contingencies. In order to better serve that function, Airmen from the 621st CRW used Exercise Cerberus Strike to hone their skills and reaffirm their interoperability with joint counterparts.

According to Capt. Michael Slaughter, 821st Contingency Response Squadron assistant director of operations, the CR training was initially constructed to develop unique CR-oriented training objectives that improve downrange effectiveness in preparation for real-world responses. It focused on key functions required by the warfighter such as landing zone assessment, airbase opening for intermediate and forward staging base operations, integrated force protection, and rapid deployment and redeployment of CR and Army forces through strategic and tactical airlift. In fact the training became significantly more substantial, as CR Airmen, AMLOs, aircrew, and Soldiers planned and executed alongside each other.

To accomplish this training, exercise planners in the 821st CRG recruited a large number of Air Force and joint partners. Air Force participants in the exercise included strategic airlift support via C-17 Globemaster III and C-5 Galaxy squadrons from the 4th Airlift Squadron from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; 21st AS and 22nd AS, Travis AFB, Calif. Tactical airlift support from C-130J Hercules aircraft was provided by units from the 19th Airlift Wing, Little Rock AFB, Ark., and 317th Airlift Group, Dyess AFB, Texas. U.S. Army participants came from the 10th Special Forces Group and 4th Infantry Division Stryker Battalion, 43rd Sustainment Brigade and 13th Air Support Operations Squadron, Fort Carson, Colo.

The initial portion of the exercise called for the 4th ID to utilize C-17 airlift for landing zone infiltration. AMLOs and CR Airmen from the 621st CRW worked with 4th ID and 21st and 4th AS to secure airlift for U.S. Army Stryker combat vehicles and personnel participating in the exercise. This training called for two contingency response teams to open and operate two locations in Southern California.  The final destination for the Strykers was Freedom Forward Landing Strip at Fort Irwin, Calif., which provided the 4th ID the opportunity to execute an actual assault of a landing zone at Ft Irwin's National Training Center and assisted in preparing the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team for combat operations. 

Lt. Col. Chris Fuller, 621st Air Mobility Advisor Group, Army Liaison, and Master Sgt. Jeff Holloway, 821st Contingency Response Squadron chief of standards and evaluation, worked to facilitate efforts between the units.

AMLOs hold a unique position in the Air Force; as rated airlift officers attached to Army units, they provide expertise on the effective use of air mobility assets for the Air Force and sister services.  Communication between services is often a challenge as members from the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps typically have differing terminology and coordination procedure requests.  AMLOs are geographically separated from their parent wing at JB MDL and embedded with units from sister services in locations around the world. They provide a critical link in bridging the gap in communication between the Air Force and their host unit. Exercise Cerberus Strike provided real-time opportunities for AMLOs to enhance communication and increase the efficiency of joint service efforts..

"AMLOs expand exercise objectives by bringing joint service units into planning and execution, which ultimately maximizes the effectiveness and realism of the exercise," Fuller said. "AMLOs are the glue between the Army and Air Force."

During the exercise, Fuller, Holloway and their teams assisted with the joint inspection of Stryker vehicles, facilitated movements at the SoCal Logistics Airport in Victorville, Calif., and coordinated landing zones and off-loading capabilities at various locations.

Holloway, one of the primary exercise developers, examined the requirements of Army units as an opportunity to cultivate opportunities for CRW and airlift airmen to engage in real-time training.

"Reaching out to our AMLOs at Fort Carson, we saw the opportunity for a partnership with the 10th Special Forces Group and 4th ID," Holloway said. "The Stryker battalion was tasked with executing operations at National Training Center at Fort Irwin. With the opportunity for some excellent training for all three CR units at Travis, we started looking into the potential of facilitating the air shipment of the Stryker battalion."

From this simple beginning and some vision and support from leadership the exercise grew into a truly robust training event for everyone involved.

After opening and closing the two airfields in California, CR forces forward deployed to Colorado opening three more airfields. There the CRW provided 10 C-130 crews with realistic combat training, high-altitude work and semi-prepared runway operations at one of the most difficult C-130 landing zones in the world, while ensuring airdrop qualification of 70 members from the 10th Special Forces Group.   In all, over 375 personnel from across the military participated.

"In a complex scenario like this, everyone has to think on their feet to overcome unforeseen challenges," said Maj. Eli Persons, 921st Contingency Response Squadron assistant director of operations. "What I was most impressed with was the ingenuity and initiative of our CR Airmen to handle whatever came their way."

In a number of firsts, CR Airmen and airlift crews flying in the exercise conducted a combined exercise debrief. It focused on shared areas for improvement and identified best practices that improve interoperability of CR forces and the airlift community it works with.

"This debrief provided all participants a tangible understanding of the shared lessons learned that improve our performance as a mobility team not just separate CR and airlift forces," Slaughter said.

"The list of accomplishments for this exercise was truly remarkable," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krulick, 821st CRS director of operations.  One critical example provided was that "It was the first time we had the AMLOs fully integrate with CR and joint forces in a training exercise."

According to Lt. Col. Dan Cordes, 821st CRS commander, the development of the unique and targeted training opportunity is perhaps the most important element.

The value and success of this training was readily apparent to all participants as squadrons utilized their own training dollars to integrate into the exercise; and the support and willingness to participate in what started off as a local squadron-level training event was, "truly remarkable," according to Cordes.

"This [exercise] was created from the imagination and creativity of several [of our own] hard-working Airmen with full time responsibilities in their squadron and involved with the daily operations of the units," Cordes said. "The learning, integration, and understanding that came from developing and executing an exercise as complex as this is second to none, and undoubtedly those that participated are more prepared than ever to execute their mission."

Edwards, JBLM combine efforts for KC-46 first flight, future test support

by Jet Fabara
412th Test Wings Public Affairs

10/2/2015 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- On Sept. 25, 2015, the U.S. Air Force, Boeing and aviation enthusiasts witnessed an important milestone with the first flight of the KC-46 Pegasus tanker from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, to Boeing Field in Seattle.

What most didn't witness is what led up to this milestone, which involved a massive, joint undertaking of several organizations, based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, who will continue to be involved with future testing of this military version tanker as part of the KC-46 Tanker Program.

Of the organizations, now functioning from JBLM, the 416th Flight Test Squadron and 412th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron from Edwards Air Force Base, California, will be providing up to three F-16s for KC-46 test support, which JBLM has housed since September.

"The KC-46 will accomplish test flights out of Everett and Boeing Field as they're going through their flight test operations, but the test program also required photo, safety chase and receiver aircraft support, so we're staging out of McChord Field because it was more suitable for support aircraft operations per the final site survey that our team leads performed," said Capt. Daniel Alex, 416th FLTS test pilot. "We'll fly out of McChord Field and rejoin with the KC-46 in the airspace. We will also be rotating aircrew roughly every two weeks at a time in support of this program."

Another factor to the joint partnership involves bringing in personnel from the 412th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 416th Aircraft Maintenance Unit from Edwards AFB, as well as other AF units who will provide receiver aircraft for the KC-46 program.

They're needed to provide maintenance on support aircraft and also provided safety training to pertinent JBLM personnel who will be supporting fighter and tanker support aircraft operations, according to Tim O'Hearn, 418th FLTS project manager and 412th Test Wing lead for KC-46 support aircraft basing.

"So far, we have nine maintenance personnel supporting two F-16s, but we also have an embedded Reserve service member who lives in the local area and an Edwards aircraft ground equipment specialist who is training JBLM personnel who may not be familiar with our equipment," said Master Sgt. Ronald Dohmann, 412th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron lead pro super. "We also have an Edwards' fuels shop specialist to train on hydrazine safety who has been running a three-day course with the JBLM Fire Department, ranging from Air Force, Army and civilian."

Before getting established, the team also had to look at all the aspects of ground support, which included environmental conditions and acquiring the appropriate aircraft ground equipment needed to operate each support air plane.

"I think this endeavor has been pretty exciting for our maintainers. At Edwards, our maintainers are exposed to a desert environment and JBLM is certainly different than that. The cold weather and rain at JBLM provides new challenges that we must face and overcome," said Paul Boyce, 416th FLTS logistics manager.

"We've had to prepare for wearing cold-weather gear and rain gear because back home we don't need it. The vast amounts of rain we're expecting at JBLM has caused us to change the criteria we use for our tires. We've also had to coordinate with the local folks here about de-icing issues to make sure so all potential areas of concern are covered."

"For us, coming from a traditional Air Force flight and ground test environment and arriving here, there were a lot of learning curves at first, but it's all worked out and I couldn't have asked for a better operation out of the JBLM construct and the Washington 95th Air National Guard, who provided their former facility and furniture," added Dohmann.

According to O'Hearn, one of the most essential taskers leading up to this was working to get the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) approved among all the pertinent agencies.

"We basically set up a composite wing and a focal point to coordinate all the operations in support of the KC-46. We have six different airframes that include the F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-15E Strike Eagle, A-10 Warthog, the KC-135 Stratotanker, KC-10 Extender and C-17 Globemaster III arriving at JBLM throughout the duration of the KC-46 testing. It's a pretty big footprint," said O'Hearn. "The site agreement manager at JBLM, Katie Benoit, was instrumental in getting the right people to the table and coordinating the MOA through the JBLM and 62 AW organization and leadership."

As part of the MOA, O'Hearn noted 412TW and other Air Force units would be providing support aircraft for the program coupled with the support at JBLM from the U.S. Army Installation Management Command, the 62nd Airlift Wing, the 95th Air National Guard, the Air National Guard Bureau and all the JBLM agencies on station are essential to the success of this operation.

"In this case, because it's long term duration with a lot of personnel, the MOA written for this undertaking is pretty comprehensive, involving services that personnel would need if they were at their home station, but the entire JBLM team has been very supportive," O'Hearn said.

The additional piece to this joint effort is the 418th Flight Test Squadron and 412 Maintenance Group, who basically started the planning process with site surveys, according to O'Hearn.

"The 418th Flight Test Squadron is executing this responsibility for the 412th Test Wing and has contributed thousands of hours over the past three-plus years with the test planning effort that assisted in achieving this test milestone," said Charles Cain, 412th Test Wing KC-46 project manager. "The 418th FLTS is supported by Detachment 1 in Seattle, which directly supports the execution of this first flight test."

A key and final component to the entire operation was JBLM.

"The original request came in to the 62nd Airlift Wing, so Kevin Parret, 62nd AW plans analyst, and I discussed it and we quickly came to the conclusion that this was definitely a bigger undertaking than McChord, so we contacted JBLM for support," said John Schmedake, 62nd Airlift Wing Plans and Programs Office chief.

During the flight tests, JBLM will provide people and equipment necessary to facilitate pertinent support for the personnel and aircraft involved with KC-46 flying operations. In total, for the 412th TW and AF units, there will be approximately 120 personnel at JBLM involved in the direct support of test and evaluation for the KC-46.

"As an Air Force member working for the U.S. Army at JBLM, it was great to be able to be a part of something that's so important to the Air Force and then bring all the support that JBLM can provide," added JBLM deputy chief of staff Air Force Lt. Col. Andy McQuade.

"As we look to understand why joint basing was established and what the benefits are, this is a great example of how it can potentially work to facilitate good relationships between the services that are working on those joint bases. I think we have come together in a way that shows the great example of the successes of joint basing and the KC-46 support test team has been able to leverage all the support that's here."

The test program is tentatively scheduled to last approximately 15 months, concluding in December 2016.

Navy, Air Force hone skills in the skies

by Airman 1st Class Kyle Johnson
JBER Public Affairs

10/1/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- From Sept. 14 to Sept. 25, Air Force F-22 Raptors from the 90th Fighter Squadron duked it out with Navy Strikefighter Squadron 15 F-18 Hornets from Naval Station Oceana, Virginia Beach, Virginia, each maneuvering to wrest as much training experience from the other with every second of flight time.

The Hornets flew with JBER Raptors as part of dissimilar air-combat training (DACT); a training operation in which fundamentally different airframes work against and with each other, much as they would in an actual warzone environment.

When flying against the Raptors, the Hornets were known as "red air," a term used for the pilots simulating enemy aircraft for training purposes, while "blue air" is used for the pilots who are the recipients of the training.

Through this, pilots on both sides were able to gain experience with combat operations against an enemy with different training and a different airframe.

"There are different tactics for different airframes," said Navy Lt. Michael Koch, VFA-15 pilot. "It is good to work against someone using a different tactic and potentially a different game plan to see where your strengths compare to theirs and your weaknesses to theirs."

With six Hornets and approximately half their maintainer squadron, the VF-15 arrived at JBER; flying four jets in the morning, and four in the evening with JBER Raptors over the course of two weeks, said Air Force Capt. Brendon Boston, 3rd Operations Support Squadron pilot attached to the 90th Fighter Squadron.

The goal of the training is to provide red air to the 90th FS, so they can get their blue air sorties, but that doesn't mean the visiting Navy pilots aren't benefiting from the training.

"It's awesome we are up here to get some extra flight time," Koch said. "There's definitely stuff to be learned from seeing someone fight with an aircraft differently than what you're used to seeing."

In addition to providing traditional red air to the 90th FS, the visiting Navy unit assisted in designing different exercises that may not have been previously  thought of, and worked together with the Raptors in cooperative exercises.

"In one flight, we had two Raptors and two Hornets; the Hornets were dropping bombs on simulated targets while the Raptors protected us against a red air force composed of two Raptors and two Hornets," Boston said.

Air Force pilots are required to fly a certain number of sorties a month to remain proficient.

Those sorties are scheduled to meet these requirements every month, but sometimes, even the best planning can't circumvent circumstance.

"If we go up and it's bad weather, we don't accomplish anything tactical, we can't actually count that as a sortie for our proficiency," Boston said.

"That's why we have the aggressor squadron at Eielson, which we use to the maximum extent we can, but occasionally they are flying with [another unit], are tied up in RED FLAG, and sometimes they go on deployment or [temporary duty assignment] so we won't have them available."

"When this happens, we use our own jets for red air, and we can only fly so many of those a fiscal year to count toward that monthly limit," Boston said. "Pretty  much everyone runs out of red air about halfway through the year."

When they begin running low on red air, the squadron reaches out to their fellow aviators in other squadrons and branches. If they can coordinate training with another entity, they can accomplish their mission and earn some unique experience on the way.

While DACT can be done with Air Force pilots on both sides, - and often is - training with members of a different branch incorporates dissimilar mindsets, policies and procedures.

"There are some significant advantages of working with the Navy," Boston said.

"Getting exposure to the tiny differences, what their [communication] calls are, and how their procedures work on the ground.

Later on, when we do integrate, people are more used to it when it matters."

Exercises like this one wouldn't be possible without the cooperation of hundreds of service members, both Navy and Air Force. From the maintenance  squadrons to the security forces, everyone has a role in getting these pilots in the air.

"We fly some of the oldest operational Hornets in the Navy, so our maintainers work extremely hard keeping our jets up," Koch said. "They're great aircraft, but they just require a little bit more work than our newer brethren; they do the same job any brand new Hornet squadron can do because our maintainer squadron is that good."

The VF-15 squadron was deployed from February to November 2014, after which they transitioned into a period of readiness, Koch said. This means they are considered the most ready to deploy, and receive the most funding - but that period ended in May.

"All the funds are sent toward units that are either getting ready to deploy or are currently deployed," Koch said. "Since we are now the furthest unit from deploying, a lot of those funds dry up. So we've got flight hours we can use, but we don't necessarily have a lot of money that can go elsewhere."

Because of this, the 90th FS arranged to pay for their trip so they can get the red air they're looking for and the VF-15 can use their flight time, showing downrange isn't the only place cooperability is key to mission success.

"You can't put a price on flight time," Koch said.