Military News

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Additional Missile Defense Tests Necessary, Official Says


By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 17, 2013 – Following recent testing failures, the director of the Missile Defense Agency told Congress today that he is committed to a full evaluation of the way forward for the nation’s ballistic missile defense system.

Navy Vice Adm. James Syring told members of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee that the most recent flight test, conducted July 5, was intended to assess the ability of a ground-based interceptor to intercept a target in mid-course. Although the missile launched successfully, it failed to intercept its target, he added.

The payload -- an upgraded Capability Enhancement-I exo-atmospheric kill vehicle -- is designed to separate from the missile carrying it, Syring said.

While the most recent test is considered a failure because the payload failed to separate, he said, it achieved secondary objectives, including demonstrations of the system’s sensors and the first use of an Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense system as a ground-based, midcourse defense launch-armed sensor.

The cause of the failure is still under review, Syring said, but he underscored his commitment to the program and noted that this was the first failure in four tests of this particular version of the kill vehicle.

“We've seen separation issues in previous flight tests, before the CE-I, earlier on in the prototype testing. And those have been corrected,” he told committee members. “We'll find out what happened here, and we'll correct this as well.

“I am committed to conducting a full evaluation of the path ahead for the [ground-based midcourse defense] program,” he continued, “to include more regular testing, an acceleration of the CE-II upgrades after intercept testing or redesign, and upgrade of the current [exo-atmospheric kill vehicle],” Syring said.

Regardless of the path the agency embarks upon, he said, it will aggressively attack any substantiated quality control problems coming out of the failure review board.

Future testing dates are still under consideration, Syring said, and could involve a repeat of the most recent test.

“What's important is continued testing,” he noted. “And I've requested in the [fiscal year 2014] budget two intercept tests and at least one intercept test in subsequent years.”

Syring acknowledged that he couldn’t guarantee additional funding wouldn’t be necessary, but, he said, “the budget, as it's currently structured, has adequate funding to complete the development of the CE-II, to test the CE-II [and] to complete the upgrades to the CE-I fleet.”
The admiral told the committee that while ground-based interceptor systems have been deployed before being fully developed, that decision was made with good reason.

“The GBIs currently fielded were fielded very quickly to meet a growing threat and that served a very good purpose,” he said. “It was always our intent ... to incrementally improve the GBI system over time, and that's what we're doing.”

Syring said he remained confident that the interceptor fleet is ready to defend the nation, including from intercontinental ballistic missile attacks. “We have extensive model and simulation capability that projects the results of our conducted intercept testing into the longer range environment,” the admiral told the Senate panel.

Speed and distance is important, Syring noted, adding that he expects to have an ICBM target available in 2015 to use in testing. “Our models and simulations and ground testing ... indicate that we would be successful,” he said.

In March, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the operational fleet of ground-based interceptors increased from 30 to 44 by 2017. That decision assumes successful testing of the next-generation exo-atmospheric kill vehicle, the CE-II, Syring told the committee. And, he said, that the results of the most recent test review do not point to any problematic common components within the currently planned production ground-based interceptors.

Additional deployments of ground-based interceptor systems are under consideration, Syring said.

The agency is evaluating locations in the continental United States for possible future deployment sites, he said. It is also working with Japanese partners to deploy a second AN/TPY-2 anti-ballistic missile mobile radar system to Japan in order to provide more robust sensor coverage for homeland defense.

“We will continue to strengthen regional defenses with funding to operate and sustain command, control, battle management and communications and the TPY-2 radars at the fielded sites,” Syring said. “We will also deliver more interceptors for the terminal high- altitude aerial defense program and Aegis ballistic missile defense.”

As part of the European missile defense strategy in response to threats from Iran, Syring told the committee his agency will continue to fund upgrades to Phase 1 of the European Phased Adaptive Approach. The strategy, authorized by President Barack Obama in 2009, features a mix of sea- and land-based missile interceptors and sensor systems.

“This approach is based on an assessment of the Iranian missile threat, and a commitment to deploy technology that is proven, cost-effective, and adaptable to an evolving security environment,” according to a White House fact sheet released at the time.

The Missile Defense Agency also is on schedule to complete Aegis Ashore -- the land-based component of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System -- in Romania by 2015 and in Poland by 2018, Syring said.

440th Airlift Wing trains with Canadians

by Adam Luther
440 AW/PA


7/17/2013 - POPE FIELD, N.C. -- Members of the 36th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and the 43rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron had the unique opportunity to train with their Canadian counterparts in a medical exercise here, July 11-12.

These very specialized medics provide care to wounded service members when they are being flown out of a conflict area to a hospital. Aeromedical evacuation personnel have been deployed in support of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces since the war on terror began. Wounded service members have 98 percent survival rate once they reach aeromedical evacuation system in deployed environments.

This type of training exercise, with an international aeromedical evacuation unit, was a first for most of the Airmen involved and provided an opportunity which may not happen again in their career. The training was held at Pope Field but conducted using the Canadian version of the C-130J. Although the aircraft is familiar to the American Airmen, the Canadians have different rules and ways of providing patient care while in flight.

Additionally, the U.S. Airmen worked in blended crews of both Reserve and Active Duty, known as total force. Total force associations combine Reserve and Active Duty units on the same missions and are becoming common practice throughout the U.S. Air Force.

Some of the Canadian crew members were instructors at their aeromedical evacuation school and the idea of having Reservists in this career field was a new idea. When the training was over one of the Canadian instructors told Olson that she wouldn't have been able to tell the difference between Reserve and Active Duty other than the patches they wore.

Capt. Donna Olson, an Air Reserve Technician flight nurse with the 36th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, explained that working in blended crews of Reserve and Active Duty is how the crews operate while deployed and often times Airmen are working with crew members they have never met.

"This is a chance to train that way," Olson said. "We have more opportunities since we have a Reserve and Active Duty unit here."

'Train as we fight and fight as we train' is a commonly used saying in the military; training with international partners imitates real world deployments and at the same time helps strengthen the already established ties. When aeromedical evacuation is called in, there is a possibility the crew will be transporting service members from other countries.

"The purpose of the training is to share knowledge," said Capt. Charles McMichael, 43rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron flight nurse. "In a deployed setting we all transport each other's injured troops. Our career fields mirror each other and are structurally the same, but there are differences though. That's one purpose of this though, to see where those are, what is different and maybe learn something new."

McMichael went on to say, "there is strength in diversity and this is another way of learning and creating that environment."

On the first day of the training exercise the U.S. Airmen shadowed their Canadian counterpart; observing and learning how the Canadians are trained to respond to different medical situations. During the second day of training the Canadians shadowed the U.S. Airmen. The international partners came together at the end of the exercise and discussed what was learned, suggested improvements and asked questions of each other.

Normal aeromedical evacuation loading of patients is not an easy process explained McMichael, involving a large amount of coordination and planning. Adding to the challenge of this training, the missions conducted during this exercise were done with aircraft engines running. This added to the difficulty because heat, exhaust, and the wind from the engines has to be considered while loading patients.

One of the biggest differences noticed by Olson was the way the two countries manage oxygen. The U.S. crews use a liquid form of oxygen while the Canadian use the compressed gas form. Since the training was happening on a Canadian aircraft the American Airmen had to adapt to a different way of doing things.

"The reason we make it back and we make it back ok is because we do practice these things," said Olson. "It helps all of our members, all of our flyers be more proficient at what they are doing."

Airman earns AF-level award

by Airman 1st Class Tammie Ramsouer
JBER Public Affairs


7/17/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- "Your life is our business/Last to let you down," is the motto by which every Airman in Aircrew Flight Equipment lives. Their job is to keep pilots supplied and ready for each mission.

The AFE award is an annual Air Force-level award program, recognizing Airmen who achieve outstanding accomplishments in the career field. The nominations start at the base level and end at the Pentagon, where the AFE functional manager decides a winner.

Personnel in AFE are responsible for keeping pilots alive when things happen unexpectedly. Their job requires constant attention to detail and a commitment to the safety of the aircrew they support.

Senior Airman Amanda Stinnett, 3rd Operation Support Squadron AFE journeyman, said she received an unexpected surprise while deployed to Manas, Kyrgyzstan. While browsing Facebook, Stinnett was overcome by praises from family, friends and coworkers.

Stinnett, 24, was pleased and surprised to discover she had won the AFE award for 2012.

She joined the Air Force in January 2011 to fulfill her interest in the military. She said travel and education benefits also inspired her decision.

Coworkers describe her as one of the best Airmen on their team and appreciate her can-do attitude.

"Senior Airman Stinnett is a strong advocate of giving back to the community and furthering her personal and professional goals," said Tech. Sgt. Mark Natividad, former 3rd OSS noncommissioned officer in charge of AFE.

As an AFE technician, Stinnett ensures survival kits, parachutes and all gear pilots need to fly is packed and ready to go in a timely manner.

"My father is a pilot so it really hits home," said the Tulsa, Okla. native.

AFE technicians are expected to be knowledgeable on every piece of equipment needed in specific models of aircraft in which they operate. Each airplane may need one or more specific type of parachute or survival kit, which AFE technicians must know and be familiar with.

This equipment is used by various organizations on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson including the 525th, 90th and 302nd fighter squadrons, who use the parachutes and gear in their training and real-world operations.

Being promoted below the zone in 2011 and finishing her upgrade training three months ahead of schedule shows how dedicated Stinnett is with her duties as an Airman and as an AFE technician.

Stinnett actively volunteers her time to the Alaska community by participating in many 5K runs and at the Anchorage Zoo.

Kadena Airmen support Talisman Saber 2013

by Staff Sgt. Rachelle Coleman
Talisman Saber Public Affairs


7/17/2013 - ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE BASE AMBERLY, Australia -- Airmen from Kadena Air Base, Japan, are currently supporting Exercise Talisman Saber 2013 in Australia.

Talisman Saber is a biennial combined Australian and United States training activity, designed to train the respective military forces in planning and conducting combined task force operations to improve the combat readiness and interoperability between the forces. The exercise is a major undertaking that reflects the closeness of the alliance and the strength of the ongoing military-military relationship.

U.S.-Australia System Promotes Logistics Interoperability

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 17, 2013 – A new logistics tracking system between the United States and Australia will help to ensure faster, more coordinated responses to humanitarian crises and other contingencies while laying the foundation for closer cooperation across the Asia-Pacific region, the senior U.S. Pacific Command logistics director reported.


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The new Pacific Radio Frequency Identification system provides improved logistical interoperability between the U.S. and Australian militaries, improving the tracking of equipment and supplies for the Marine Rotational Force-Darwin and U.S.-Australian exercises and missions. Here, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Isaac Hernandez, an assault rifleman with Marine Rotational Force Darwin, sights in on his target during a squad-attack exercise in Australia, May 22, 2013. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Sarah Fiocco
  

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Pacom, through its U.S. Army Pacific component, and the Australian defense force launched the Pacific Radio Frequency Identification System in April, Air Force Brig. Gen. Mark M. McLeod reported during a telephone interview from the command headquarters at Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii.

The system incorporates technologies commercial retailers have come to rely on to track their goods from the manufacturer to warehouses and into buyers’ hands, McLeod explained.
It also leverages capabilities NATO introduced about three years ago with the standup of a network exchange hub that promotes information sharing about supply shipments bound for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

The NATO system uses radio-frequency identification to automatically locate and track shipments through ISAF-member supply chains. Nations connected to a routing hub in Luxembourg transmit logistics data to other users, giving the entire supply chain real-time visibility on the shipments.

The Pacific Radio Frequency Identification system introduces this capability into the Pacom theater to support rotational U.S. Marine Corps forces in Darwin, Australia, and expanded military-to-military cooperation across the region, McLeod said.

The Defense Department has long used barcode technology to monitor the flow of everything from washers and nuts for a particular aircraft to armored vehicles, he explained. This gives logisticians the ability to track shipments throughout the transportation process and keep tabs on inventory stocks.

The new system takes this effort a step further. It uses radio frequency identification technology to “read” barcode information on both U.S. and Australian military equipment and supplies. Australian RFID readers recognize the barcodes affixed to U.S. shipments flowing through Australia, then automatically transmits the information to the NATO routing hub. U.S. logisticians can then monitor the flow of equipment or shipments through delivery.

“It gives everybody near-real-time access,” McLeod said. “When an individual supply-line item passes along a tracking device, it is automatically read up into a database and distributed. There is literally just a matter of seconds involved in the transmission of the information to everyone’s servers about where their equipment is.”

The new logistics partnership saves the United States the cost of deploying and installing its own RFID systems in Australia at an estimated cost of about $560,000 over the next five years, McLeod said.
“This is a big win for U.S. and Australian forces operating in the Pacific, McLeod said. “This is ‘Pacific Rebalance’ in action.”

With a U.S. defense strategy focused heavily on the Asia-Pacific region and expanded U.S. engagement across the theater, the system supports closer U.S.-Australian interoperability during exercises, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions and other contingencies, he said.

The system also provides a framework that could be expanded in the future to include more regional allies and partners, he said. “This is another example of how partner-nation logistics cooperation effectively and efficiently expands military reach and capability in the Asia-Pacific region,” the general added.

Historically, the military has struggled with two primary obstacles to logistics-information technology: incompatible systems that made sharing difficult, and security protocols that limited what information could be shared, and with whom.

The since-dissolved U.S. Forces Command came up with an initial logistics information-sharing system about seven years ago, McLeod said. It required users from one country to email information to their partner-nation counterparts, who downloaded the file and uploaded it onto their own system.
“It was a clunky way of transmitting information, and not in real time,” McLeod said. “It depended on how much manpower and how much time you had, so it wasn’t an effective or efficient way of sharing information.”

The United States and Australia previously attempted to share logistics information using a direct link between their systems, but got bogged down by servers that had trouble talking to each other and accreditation processes that were slow and cumbersome.

They abandoned the project in early 2011 in favor of the current one that leverages NATO capabilities.
“The system is fully operational right now,” McLeod said. “It was turned on in early April, and it is up and running.”

McLeod emphasized the importance of logistics information-sharing, particularly during the U.S. pivot to the Asia-Pacific region. “Knowing the times and dates when things are going to arrive empowers all the processes that we have in military logistics,” he said. “Efficient and integrated international supply chains aren’t just important to Wal-Mart. They are critical enablers for warfighters as well.”

This capability will be particularly valuable, he said, in the event that nations need to work together to respond to a natural disaster such as the Operation Tomodachi in Japan.

“We are looking more and more toward our partners and our partner capacity to integrate with us and be more fully interoperable,” he said. “This is one of those empowering enabler technologies that allow us to do that.”

Training for joint, U.K. F-35 programs heat up

by Maj. Karen Roganov
33rd Fighter Public Affairs


7/17/2013 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The largest fleet of F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighters ramped up to 28 aircraft June 25, bringing in new capability for the F-35 Integrated Training Center as the team trains to provide combat operations capability in the years ahead.

The U.S. Navy's Strike Fighter Squadron-101 received a second F-35C from Lockheed Martin, Fort. Worth, Texas. The Navy's variant is designed to land on the decks of aircraft carriers.

"Receiving our jets is an almost indescribable milestone for us," said Navy Capt. John Enfield, commanding officer of VFA-101. "We're excited to be on the ground floor of introducing a generational step forward in combat lethality and battle space awareness for our worldwide deployed forces."

Flying in formation with the Navy F-35C was the final compliment of the third F-35B for the United Kingdom based here as part of an Initial Operational Test & Evaluation Implementing Arrangement. The U.K. trains with the U.S. Marine Corps Fighter Attack Training Squadron-501 and fly each other's jets interchangeably.

This latest United Kingdom F-35B has upgraded software, defined as Block 2A, making it the first such for the combined Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and United States Marine Corps assets at the VMFAT-501.

Having the enhanced software for both the Navy fighters here and now the VMFAT-501 means pilot training curriculum steadily grows as capabilities come on board.

"An increased use of the digital aperture system, one of the key sensors of the joint strike fighter, marks one such step forward for F-35 training," said Col. Todd Canterbury, commander of the 33d Fighter Wing and overall spearhead for joint and international training here. The Air Force's 58th Fighter Squadron here also trains with the enhanced software, he said.

The fleet continues to grow toward 59 aircraft scheduled to fly at the F-35 Integrated Training Center, part of Eglin's 33rd Fighter Wing. By the end of this calendar year, the team is planning for 42 of those joint strike fighters to be here, he said.

To date, the three services and the United Kingdom have seen 53 pilots and 857 maintainers qualified to fly and maintain the F-35 as the training progresses. All training is geared toward F-35 initial operating capabilities, according to Canterbury.

The Marines expect to declare F-35B IOC late in 2015. The Air Force's target date is by December 2016, and the U.S. Navy is looking at F-35C IOC in February 2019.

While target dates may adjust, a constant for all partners is training for the challenges of working on the 21st century battlefield taking advantage of the unprecedented F-35 with its increased survivability, including advanced information-sharing capabilities setting it to dominate airpower for the next 50 years.

Face of Defense: Father, Son Serve in Ironhorse Brigade

By Army Sgt. Bailey Kramer
1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division

FORT HOOD, Texas, July 17, 2013 – A command sergeant major runs across a landing zone in Afghanistan to catch his flight. In midstride, he is asked to stop for a photo. He takes his eye protection off, turns to the camera and smiles.


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Army Spc. Eric Fragoso, back right, and his father, Army Command Sgt. Maj. José Fragoso, center right, are both stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, with the 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team. Courtesy photo
  

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After returning to base and uploading his photo to his social media account for family and friends to see, he immediately receives a comment from his son, “Hey hero, where’s the eye-pro?”

“The best part of having my sons in the Army is when they validate my life, by saying things I would have said as a soldier,” said Army Command Sgt. Maj. José Fragoso, who hails from Toledo, Ohio, referring to the comment his son, Army Spc. Eric Fragoso, posted on his photo.

Father and son are assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st “Ironhorse” Brigade Combat Team.

In 2010, Eric informed his parents of his decision to enlist in the Army. José said he was proud his son decided to follow him into the Army, but it came as surprise to both him and his wife, Kerri Fragoso, a licensed nurse practitioner.
“It had just slipped off my radar. [Eric] didn’t want to join when he was 18, so I said, ‘OK, that’s fine,’” he added.

The shock wasn’t until he told his parents he had chosen to serve as an infantry soldier.
“When we found out he was going infantry like Dad, we were like, ‘Have you not watched Dad all these years?” Kerri said, laughing.

Shortly after Eric completed basic combat training, his father deployed on a special assignment to Afghanistan. Eric received orders to the Ironhorse Brigade here, during preparations for a deployment to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn.

“It was pretty scary,” Kerri said. “You never knew what was going to happen. … We knew quite a few people who didn’t make it the last time they were in Iraq.”

Kerri wasn’t the only one who was scared. “I was worried more for him,” Eric said. “I didn’t want to lose him.”

While José was deployed, he learned he was going to be the command sergeant major of his son’s battalion, the 2nd “Lancer” Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment.

Although it had been about a year since the family had seen each other, and Eric was happy to be eating his mom’s homemade enchiladas again, he wasn’t too excited that his father was assuming responsibility of his battalion. “I was mad,” he said with a laugh.

After the change of responsibility, Eric’s first sergeant told him he was to leave his company immediately. He is now assigned to Company B of the 2nd “Stallion” Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment.
“I was going to get kicked out of my unit, going to go somewhere else. … I didn’t want to leave the guys I knew I could trust, [whom] I had trained with for about two and half years, and then get thrown in with some new guys. But that’s how the Army works,” the specialist said.

“Yeah, you did leave kicking and screaming,” his father added jokingly.

Even months after his father took responsibility of the Lancer Battalion, Eric still has to remind people he wants to do this on his own and that he won’t use his father as a crutch.

“We don’t have the same leadership style. What I do, wouldn’t fit his personality,” José said. “It would be fake coming out of him, and people would see that. … [But] he has identified things that are wrong that I would have identified as wrong, and he has come up with solutions I would have.”

Eric said he sometimes catches himself sounding like his father.

“I feel like I am becoming a little more like him, and that’s fine with me,” he added. “He’s been an inspiration, but I still have to do things my way.”

Kerri said she is pleased with Eric’s decision of enlisting in the Army and José's professional and personal example.

“I am proud of my sons for going into the military and doing something with their lives, following in their dad’s footsteps,” Kerri said. “And I’m proud of my husband. He has gone the distance and is still going. He shows his sons there is more. … There can always be more.”

F-35 aircrew flight equipment team named Air Force best

by Tech. Sgt. Carl Stenske
33rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs


7/17/2013 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- One of the Air Force's newest aircrew flight equipment teams is now the Air Force's best.

The 33rd Fighter Wing's aircrew flight equipment flight was chosen the best in the Air Force in the small program category for 2012. The wing is the only unit to fly and train on the F-35A Lightning II fifth generation fighter.

"This outstanding feat was accomplished amidst a year of numerous challenges in stand-up operations for the F-35," said Col. Todd Canterbury, the 33rd Fighter Wing commander. "It shows how hard their team worked to be considered the best in the Air Force."

Tech. Sgt. Andre Baskin is the flight's NCOIC, who says that his team's biggest challenge has been the unique aspects of the F-35 program. "There was nothing to base our procedures on," said Baskin. "We had to use our experience with other fighter aircraft to create new procedures."

Baskin said the team worked 30 hours over a three-day period to perform an emergency safety inspection on F-35 aircrew safety equipment, completing the inspection in one-third of the time. He added that, because there was no aircrew flight equipment training courseware, the team had to create its own, earning honors for "best practice," also at the Air Force level.

Tech. Sgt. Amanda Williams is the team's continuation training instructor, responsible for creating the instructions used to perform tasks for the F-35 equipment under review. "Since there's no F-35 training plan on the equipment, she had to develop it from scratch," said Baskin. "Usually a lesson plan is created and sent from higher headquarters on down. We had to go from the bottom up on these."

Baskin's team became one of the first within the wing to transition from the F-35 contract team, in this case Lockheed Martin, to complete Air Force oversight, a feat they accomplished a year ahead of schedule. "It was difficult because it was brand new," said Baskin. "If a typical aircrew flight equipment shop needs support with something, they can usually get it from another base. There was no F-35 support other than what we could provide ourselves internally. We had to make sure all our bases were covered."

The team was also asked to support other units as well, assisting 720 F-16 sorties from the 56th Fighter Wing, from Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., deployed to Eglin in support of the F-35 program. Baskin said that having the added support of the F-16s was definitely a challenge for he and his team. "The team had to basically build an F-16 shop from scratch, not only in equipment, but also in the process of dealing with the equipment, such as obtaining bench stock and equipment turn-in."

Tech Sgt. Lemuel Velazquez, one of the team technicians, said that, when the F-35s arrived, it was hard, but rewarding work. "It was difficult because we have guidelines on the legacy aircraft, but most of those could not be applied to the F-35. We had to adapt to the new requirements, but it helped me grow as an NCO. I was able to see how the Air Force works from a different point of view. I now know 200 percent more than I did before."