Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Aviano augments search for missing pilot

1/30/2013 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy (AFNS) -- The 31st Fighter Wing launched several of its F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft Jan. 29 to join the ongoing search effort for a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot who was declared missing during a nighttime training mission Jan. 28.

The fighter jets will provide further assistance to the robust rescue operation already underway, joining U.S. and Italian aircraft and ships. Capt. Lucas Gruenther, 31st Fighter Wing chief of flight safety, was conducting an F-16 training sortie over the Adriatic Sea when contact was lost with his aircraft.

"While not specifically designed for reconnaissance like the other aircraft already involved in the search, our F-16s have targeting pods which can be used to augment the search," said Brig. Gen Scott J. Zobrist, 31st Fighter Wing commander. "The weather and size of the search area have limited our ability to provide assistance with F-16s up to this point; however, now that the ships and reconnaissance aircraft have refined the search area, we hope to help by putting more sensors and eyes out there.

"The search operation in the Adriatic is truly expansive," Zobrist added. "I'm grateful to the many Italian and U.S. professionals who are executing this mission, and I am hopeful that we will bring Captain Gruenther home safely."

More information will be released as it becomes available. A board of officers will investigate the incident.

337th TES gears up for largest B-1 modification

by Airman 1st Class Charles V. Rivezzo
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

1/29/2013 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron is gearing up for the largest B-1 modification in program history, as part of the Integrated Battle Station and Sustainment-Block 16 upgrade.

Because of the magnitude of this upgrade, additional work is being done to make sure the 337th TES is ready to test and develop tactics needed to take full advantage of the new equipment and software.

Sustainment-Block 16, or SB-16, includes significant upgrades to the B-1, including the Fully Integrated Data Link and Central Integrated Test System in the aft station and the Vertical Situation Display Upgrade in the front station. Included under the umbrella of SB-16, the B-1 will also receive navigation, radar and diagnostic upgrades.

The VSDU upgrades the B-1's forward cockpit by replacing two unsupportable, monochrome pilot and co-pilot displays with four multifunctional color displays, giving the pilots more situational awareness data in a user-friendly format.

The B-1 FIDL will give the aft cockpit new digital avionics including a Link 16 data link, which adds line-of-sight capability to the B-1's existing beyond line-of-sight Joint Range Extension Applications Protocol data link and integrates the JREAP, data onto new, full-color displays with intuitive symbols and moving maps.

The CITS upgrade adds a new color display in the aft cockpit and replaces an obsolete computer that continuously monitors the aircraft's performance. It is used by flight and ground support personnel to identify and troubleshoot B-1 system anomalies.

These three modifications fall under the Integrated Battle Station initiative, which is slated to be installed concurrently through 2019.

"The IBS upgrades will provide B-1 aircrews with a higher level of situational awareness and a faster, secure digital communication link," said Maj. Michael Jungquist, 337th TES. "This will enable the aircrews to perform at an even more effective level and will make the B-1 cockpit more reliable and supportable."

Developmental testing of SB-16 is scheduled to begin in April at Edwards AFB, Calif., while the 337th TES is on-track to receive their first fully modified B-1 later this year to begin operational testing.

To test the new datalink capabilities, the 337th TES is constructing a Link-16 network for use in local airspace. The squadron has spent nearly half-a-million dollars to create a control room capable of sending and receiving Link-16 and JREAP messages in addition to ultra-high frequency voice communications.

"The groundwork we lay here will enable the 7th Bomb Wing to conduct more effective training, in addition to our ability to test new capabilities in the future," Jungquist said.

Furthermore, the 337th TES has begun writing test plans, creating training plans and even recruited several members of the FIDL and VSDU developmental test teams for expertise and training.

In addition to aircrew training, the maintenance element of the 337th TES has begun preparing for the arrival of the initial IBS configured aircraft. The 337th TES maintainers and maintainers from the 7th Maintenance Group will undergo significant classroom and on-aircraft training at Edwards and Tinker AFB prior to the aircraft's arrival.

"The enhancements are so dramatic that, for all intents and purposes, B-1 aviators will need to treat an IBS modified B-1 like a new aircraft," said Jungquist, who flew during both FIDL and VSDU testing.

"The IBS/SB-16 upgrade to the B-1 enhances the ability of this amazing aircraft to integrate and operate with the most advanced air, sea, land and cyber platforms of our military forces," said Lt. Col. George Holland, 337th TES commander. "Whether providing air support over ground forces in Iraq and Afghanistan or shifting focus to support maritime operations in the Pacific, the IBS upgrade to the B-1 provides more capability to the quiver of our combatant commanders. The 337th TES looks forward to leading the B-1 community through the IBS upgrade."

Dyess B-1s participate in multi-service exercise

by Airman 1st Class Charles V. Rivezzo
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

1/30/2013 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- B-1 Bombers from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, participated in a combined training unit exercise, or COMPTUEX, Jan. 24-29, in support of the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Strike Group.

COMPTUEX is a series of training scenarios designed to certify the HSTSG as a deployment-ready fighting force capable of completing operations in overseas theaters. The exercise incorporated a myriad of missions to include air defense, maritime interdiction and anti-submarine warfare.

7th Bomb Wing aircrews participated in the exercise by providing joint maritime defense for the carrier strike group.

The COMPTUEX scenario involved a friendly ally at war in a highly-volatile area prone to terrorism. Training vessels and personnel played the role of hostile forces within each scenario.

"Our role during these types of exercises is kind of like what we've been doing in OEF for well over a decade, providing a convoy armed overwatch, but in this case, it's a carrier strike group," said Capt. Alicia Datzman, 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron. "The area you're protecting in a JMD type role is extremely vast and part of that tactical problem is finding where those threats are and protecting our assets."

Currently, the 337th TES is writing a bulletin on JMD tactics, techniques and procedures specifically using their current communications (pre Link-16) structure and soon-to-be-fielded Advanced Targeting Pod-Sensor Enhancement.

According to Datzman, JMD is a mission that aircrews deployed to the Middle East could be tasked to support, directly impacting the B-1's current mission-set.

"Participating in these types of exercises is huge for us, because we are operating in an environment that is unfamiliar to the B-1 community," said Maj. Brian Baker, 77th Weapons Squadron. "Little things that you can't practice or stress until you are actually in that environment, such as communications, make a big difference when working in a joint-service operation.

"The mistakes and lessons learned in these exercises get propagated out to the rest of the B-1 community. Not everyone is going to get a chance to participate in these types of exercises," added Baker. "The few times we get to participate in these large force exercises, we need to get every single lesson learned that's possible, because the next time someone is a part of a mission like that, it could be for real."

This multi-service exercise is part of a new Department of Defense initiative known as the Air-Sea Battle concept.

The ASB concept guides the services as they work together to maintain a continued U.S. advantage against the global proliferation of advanced military technologies and anti-access/area denial capabilities. Air-Sea Battle is designed to leverage military and technological capabilities that reflect Navy, Marine and Air Force collaboration, cooperation, integration and resource investments.

"When you think of joint-integration in tomorrow's war with country X, Y, or Z, that's how we are going to have to fight," Datzman said. "It's essential to train the way we fight."

Carter to Travel to France, Germany, Jordan

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2013 – Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter begins a six-day trip tomorrow to meet with officials in France, Germany and Jordan, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in a statement today.

The trip will give Carter a chance to continue U.S. defense consultations on a range of common security challenges, he added.

In Germany, Carter will participate in the 49th Munich Security Conference, an annual meeting of foreign and defense policy leaders from around the world.

Carter’s visit, Little said, will reinforce the strong U.S. commitment to its allies and partners in Europe and the Middle East.

During his travels, the press secretary noted, Carter also will visit with U.S. service members to thank them for their service.

DOD Program Gives New Hope to Double Arm Transplant Patient

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2013 – As a wounded warrior who lost all four limbs in Iraq shared news of his successful double-arm transplant yesterday, officials at the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, which funded the research making it possible, say the investment will continue to bear fruit in giving new hope to wounded warriors.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
A surgical team performs a double-arm transplant on Army Spc. Brendan Marrocco at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore on Dec. 18, 2012. Marrocco lost all four limbs to an explosively formed projectile in Iraq in 2009. The Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine funded research to advance the techniques that made the surgery possible. Photo courtesy of Johns Hopkins Hospital

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Army Spc. Brendan Marrocco appeared yesterday with his medical team, led by Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee, chair of Johns Hopkins Hospital’s plastic and reconstructive surgery department, to announce the successful Dec. 18 double transplant at the Baltimore hospital.

“I really don’t know what to say, because it is such a big thing for my life,” 26-year-old Marrocco told reporters as he demonstrated his ability to move his new left arm. His right arm has limited movement, but Marrocco said he’s hoping to get more soon.

Standing proudly alongside other members of the surgical team was one of his surgeons, Navy Lt. Cmdr. (Dr.) Patrick L. Basile of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Basile is assistant chief and director of microsurgery and supervisor for rotating medical students at Walter Reed’s plastic and reconstructive surgery department.

Marrocco, who enlisted in the Army in January 2008, deployed to Iraq nine months later with the 25th Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade, Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Regiment. He and his fellow soldiers had completed a night mission and were returning to Forward Operating Base Summerall on April 12, 2009, when their armored vehicle has hit by an explosively formed projectile -- a roadside bomb designed specifically to pierce armor.

The explosion, which severed Marrocco’s carotid artery and severed all of his limbs, also killed one soldier and wounded another.

Quickly medevaced through Iraq to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and on to Walter Reed, Marrocco became one of the first quadruple amputees of the conflict to survive his wounds.

He had been wearing prosthetic limbs before the 13-hour surgery, the first of its kind at Johns Hopkins and only the seventh in the United States. His rehabilitation will continue for years, his surgical team explained, as his nerves slowly regenerate – one inch per month – and he gains the ability to use and control the arms and hands.

“I feel like I got a second chance to start over after I got hurt,” Marrocco told reporters yesterday. “If feels amazing. It’s something I was waiting for for a long time.”

Excitement about the successful transplant, and its implications for other wounded warriors, rippled through the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command at Fort Detrick, Md., home of the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine. The Defense Department launched AFIRM in 2008 to advance research to treat wounded warriors suffering traumatic injuries, explained Army Col. (Dr.) John Scherer, director of the clinical and rehabilitative medicine research program.

One of the goals was to promote transplant procedures that were being conducted overseas, but typically not in the United States, he said. “We wanted to move the scientific field forward to make this an option, not only for wounded service members, but for anyone who may benefit from such a surgery,” Scherer said.
Five years after AFIRM was established, Scherer said, he’s excited to see that effort pay off in ways that can transform people’s lives.

“This goes to the commitment we have to always do our best to do whatever we can to improve the care they get,” he said. “This is pushing the boundaries of clinical medicine to improve on that care,” he added, particularly when compared with options available just a few years ago.

AFIRM stands as a testament to America’s pledge to stand by its wounded warriors, Scherer said.
“It is our duty to do whatever we can to repair these very severe injuries, to push the boundaries of medicine and to say, ‘What we are doing currently is not good enough until we can actually restore the function of the tissue of the hand or arm that was lost,’” he said. “That is our main goal: to make that individual whole again and to do whatever we can, medically, to get there.”

AFIRM is managed and funded through the Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, with additional funding from the Navy’s Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Surgeon General’s Office; the Department of Defense Office of Health Affairs; National Institutes of Health and the Veterans Affairs Department.

Their initial $100 million investment, spread over five years, has nearly tripled with local public and private matching funds, Scherer said.

Medical Airmen get global 'real-world' training

by Army Spc. Melissa C. Parrish
49th Public Affairs Detachment (Airborne)

1/30/2013 - POPE FIELD, N.C. (AFNS) -- Flight technicians and flight nurses from around the globe come to the Aeromedical Evacuation Formal Training Unit (AEFTU) at Pope Army Airfield, N.C., to receive hands on training for medical evacuations.

The school house has been open for two years and has already trained many medical technicians and flight nurses to be efficient in their fields and get a taste of what their jobs will entail in a real-world scenario.

Master Sgt. Gary Taiclet, an instructor at the AEFTU, has been working at the school since it opened and helps give the students the opportunity to enhance their skills.

"The students come to the AEFTU and we get to teach them about all of the different types of aircrafts they may encounter," said Taiclet. "We also teach them how to configure (put together) the inside of the aircraft and we give them patient scenarios they will possibly see while deployed."

Although this training is not mandatory for the flight technicians and flight nurses, it is a pass or fail course and is highly encouraged.

"The students go through open and closed book testing and they also test on the ground and in the air," said Taiclet. "When these Airman deploy they will take all of the equipment with them and turn the aircraft into a flying Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and that is what we are training them to do."

Many of the students come to the school from different Reserve bases because their base doesn't offer the real-time training on the many various types of aircrafts these Airmen will encounter.

"I came from my base in Minneapolis for this school because we don't have the diverse amount of aircraft training they offer here at the AEFTU," said Deanna Jensen, a flight nurse with the 934th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, Air Reserve Base Minneapolis, Minn., and a civilian emergency room nurse in Minneapolis.

"We learn how to set up the aircraft for the transportation of patients, and we learn the electrical aspect of the different types of aircraft," said Jensen. "Every plane has a different configuration and we need to know how to set up each one."

Near the end of the course the students put their training to use and perform a simulated mass casualty mission where they get on an aircraft and are evaluated on their time management, performance and knowledge of patient and aircraft emergencies.

"I've learned so much here and received great training that I wouldn't have had the opportunity to take advantage of at my home base." added Jensen. "I'm just really glad I got the opportunity to come to the AEFTU."

The school is 27 days long and gives many Airmen the training they will need when they deploy to forward operating locations providing medical care to wounded warriors. The school is on track to becoming a mandatory training stop for the Aeromedical career field.

628th SFS Airmen conduct CQB training

by Senior Airman George Goslin
Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

1/30/2013 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- The 628th Security Forces Squadron conducted a simulated raid on a house in Joint Base Charleston - Air Base's housing using Close Quarter Battle tactics Jan. 28, 2013. They armed up, breached the door, and cleared the house quickly and efficiently.

According to Tech. Sgt. Rudolph Stuart, 628th Security Forces Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of training, Close Quarter Battle tactics are used when small units or teams of operators engage an enemy at close range. Typically, the enemy or opposing force is armed, so the operators need to be proficient in using their weapons at extremely close ranges or even switch to hand-to-hand combat if needed.

"CQB is a lot more prevalent today in a lot of things that Security Forces, as well as local law enforcement, is doing", said Stuart.

Typically in these situations, security forces personnel would perform a swift takeover of a building occupied by an opposing force. They hone their skills to ensure they are ready for a scenario that could have grave implications for law enforcement officers or hostages if they are not.

The security forces team even went through weapons transition drills in the event their primary weapon malfunctioned during a raid. They practiced thedrills in the house while simultaneously clearing it so that they will be comfortable in case a similar situation might arise. Transition drills are the action of swapping from your primary to your secondary weapon.

"Every time you breach a building, your M4 is not going to do what you want it to do" said Stuart. "What are you going to do in that instance? Transition to your 9mm and engage your adversary. A lot of times, people get into a situation like that and don't have a backup plan. By doing these drills, it gives you that backup plan and allows you to have an out."

"On any given day, we can be called to go to a building facing a CQB scenario," Stuart said."It's every building on base: the commissary, the Exchange, the headquarters building, the Child Development Center or the Youth Center. Every building we would have to enter, we would have to use these tactics to get to the adversary, clear the scene, and to ensure people stay safe."

Everyone assigned to the 628th SFS receives this two-week training twice every year. "We go through this training to make sure everyone stays on task, not to mention the numerous temporary duty assignments we will attend to ensure we're abreast of the 'latest and greatest' of today's tactics and training," said Stuart. "The Charleston County Police Department also comes out with us from time to time to train with us. This is a great give and take relationship, where they learn tactics from us and we learn tactics from them in a trade of information which helps us build a relationship with the local populace and local law enforcement."

Even one mistake during a building raid could potentially mean the loss of a team member or a hostage, making this training extremely valuable to the base's security forces.

"I not only feel more comfortable performing close quarters battle in deployed locations, but here at the base as well, if needed," said Staff Sgt. Anthony Servick, 628th SFS patrolman.