Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Maintaining the technological edge

By Ed Gulick, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs / Published February 04, 2015

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry O. Spencer urged members of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) to help the service maintain their technological edge at their winter board meeting Jan. 27.

“We need your help,” Spencer said. “We need the expertise you provide because it is really critical. Our budgets are shrinking, our capacity is shrinking and there’s no way to accomplish (our mission) with the budgets we have without technology and innovation.”

Spencer cited current modernization efforts, including the F-35A Lightning II, KC-46A Pegasus, long range strike bomber and the intercontinental ballistic missile fleet upgrade, as current costly programs the service must pay for. He then urged the group to look at how their studies can help the service save money while keeping its technological edge.

“We need your help to focus on what we can do versus what we can’t,” Spencer said. He then highlighted some technologies, such as measuring time in femtoseconds, hypersonics and quantum entanglement, as areas of advancements that need to be studied to determine how they can be used to advance the service’s mission.

“(The Air Force) cannot survive without you,” Spencer said. “The technology has leaped so fast, it’s hard for us to keep up with it. We want our adversaries to say, ‘Where did they get that and what are we going to do about it.’”

The SAB was tasked by Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, to conduct studies on the cyber vulnerabilities of embedded systems in air and space systems, enhanced utility of unmanned air vehicles in contested and denied environments and utility of quantum systems for the Air Force.

The SAB is made up of 50 experts among the nation’s top civilian scientists and engineers on matters of science and technology relating to the Air Force mission.

The current SAB will be completed by the end of June 2015, and then be briefed to the secretary of the Air Force, chief of staff of the Air Force and other Air Force senior leadership. The findings and recommendations of the SAB will then be used to shape and guide Air Force policy.

Face of Defense: Soldier Learns Other Side of Duty Station

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Teresa Cleveland
633rd Air Base Wing

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va., Feb. 4, 2015 – More than 5,800 soldiers come through Fort Eustis, Virginia, each year for advanced individual training to learn the basics of helicopter and boat maintenance.

Most students graduate and move on to installations around the globe, but for some, Fort Eustis remains their home.

Army Pvt. Jeffery Kemp, 331st Transportation Company, 11th Transportation Battalion, 7th Transportation Brigade watercraft engineer, began his new career at Fort Eustis as a student with the U.S. Army Transportation School.

Kemp adjusted quickly after basic military training to the continuous schedule of school, formation, preparing his room for inspections and studying.

“[AIT] was a consistent schedule with strict, but necessary, rules,” he said. “We were only allowed to go off post on the weekends, because our main priority was training.”

As their graduation date drew near, Kemp and his fellow students received their official orders. To his surprise, he learned he would be staying at Fort Eustis.

Excited to Stay

“I was excited to stay, because I’ve met some really cool people that live in the area,” Kemp said. “Plus, it’s close to my hometown in Kentucky, so my family doesn’t have to travel very far to visit me.”

Kemp said he discovered that although he stayed at the same installation, things were not the same for permanent-party personnel as they were for students. One adjustment, he explained, was that while he had to live up to high expectations within his work center, he could spend his off-duty time as he saw fit.

“Once you get to your first unit, they know you’re a soldier and they want you to be responsible enough to do what is expected of you,” he said. “Once you’re done with your work, your free time is your own to do what you want.”

As he adjusts to the new freedom within his unit and personal life, Kemp said, he plans to explore the installation and the local area to find new things to try during his free time.

“It felt weird at first,” he said. “I got a chance to explore the local area a little on the weekends in AIT, but never [to] explore the base. Now, I’ve gotten to take a look around and there’s a lot of really cool stuff here.”

Learning Continues

Now that he works on the installation, Kemp said, he spends time with friends off-base and working on his car while balancing his career and learning more about his job and what it means to be a soldier.

“I’m always going to be learning throughout my career in the Army,” he said. “I’m finding a balance now between learning my job and learning the Army. I’m really excited for what the future may hold for me in the Army and at Fort Eustis.”

Juniper Thunder: Strengthening communication through cooperation

by Senior Airman Jonathan Stefanko
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

2/3/2015 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Ramstein Airmen and Army Soldiers from Rhine Ordnance Barracks, Germany came together Jan. 19, on Ramstein Air Base, Germany to take part in a joint communications exercise and establish bilateral communications across the two branch's networks.

Code-named Juniper Thunder, the exercise was aimed to help improve the interoperability between Air Force and Army combat communications systems. The 17-day obsticle also tested how well the two branches could work together to support the European Command's number one priority in Air Ballistic Missile Defense.

Working inside the tents were Airmen from the 1st Combat Communications Squadron, 1st Air and Space Communications Operations Squadron, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa and Soldiers from the 10th Army Air Missile Defense Command.

"Traditionally, 1 CBCS doesn't interact with our Army brethrens in the same manner as we have during this excercise," said 1st Lt. Francis Gudez, 1 CBCS lead exercise evaluation team member. "It's a great experience for our Airmen to have this interaction and change our thught process from one of a seprate 'blue and green' force to a joint "purple" force. In real world operations, we are expected to work jointly and these JUNIPER THUNDER exercises prepare us for that moment."

Made up of 70 military personnel and more than $40 million worth of equipment, Juniper Thunder presented realistic scenarios to help identify complications within the networks used between the partnering services.

"Being a part of Juniper Thunder and exercises like it help identify interoperability issues in a controlled environment," said Army Capt. John Verwiel, 10th AAMDC. "Now, we are working to fix those concerns during the exercise, so we don't have these issues when we deploy together and fight the common fight.

"Undergoing a shared experience with our Air Force counterparts will add to the common understanding of the global security climate in which we operate," Verwiel continued. "Training together now will help foster a more secure setting down range."

During the exercise, the 3rd Air Force and 17th Expeditionary Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson as well as director of C4/Cyber, U.S. European Command Brig. Gen. Welton Chase Jr. visted and spoke with Airmen and Soldiers to better understand what processes can be improved upon.

"It is important for us to locate any problems and address it with upper leadership before they occur during a real world mission," said Airman 1st Class Cyrus Marvin, 1st CBCS network operations technician. "Each unit here, Air Force and Army, provides a significant level of support in a virtually seamless operation, and can only strengthen it by eliminating any imperfections found."

Though Juniper Thunder is scheduled to end on Jan. 5, the Airmen and Soldiers will continue to reinforce their joint capabilities and sustain their role in providing the combatant command the tools necessary to make the right decision, at the right time.

Top 5 ways to ruin your career with drugs

by Staff Sgt. Jarad A. Denton
501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs

2/3/2015 - RAF ALCONBURY, England -- From the first day of basic military training, Airmen are educated and warned about the dangers of substance abuse.

Capt. Rachel Van Maasdam, 501st Combat Support Wing judge advocate, shared some of the top reasons substance abuse can quickly land Airmen into serious legal trouble.

5. Deliberate Ignorance

The Uniform Code of Military Justice defines this situation as an Airman who deliberately avoids the knowledge of a presence of a controlled substance, or its contraband nature. 

"Basically, a friend can't just hand you a pill and you pop it without ever asking what it is," Van Maasdam said. "The UCMJ doesn't allow you to stick your head in the sand and say, 'I didn't know I was using drugs.'"

4. Marijuana Use

Pot, weed, grass, 420, ganga, dope, herb and joint are only some of the names used in reference to marijuana - which, although legal in some states and countries, is still outlawed under the UCMJ.

"This marijuana use is a no kidding, you could go to jail, crime in the military," Van Maasdam said, speaking toward the maximum punishment of two years confinement and a dishonorable discharge under Article 112A of the UCMJ.

3. Misusing old, narcotic prescription medication

Prescription medication is not a generic cure-all, Van Maasdam said. Misusing prescription medication, expired or otherwise, can potentially earn an Airman five years confinement and a dishonorable discharge under Article 112A.

"Most people don't consider the issues that could arise from taking old prescription medication," Van Maasdam said. "When in doubt, check with your doctor, and take full advantage of prescription drug take back days offered by military health clinics."

2. Misuse of OTC medication to alter one's mood or function

Any misuse of over-the-counter medication to alter an Airman's mood or function is a violation of Article 92, and can be met with a maximum punishment of two years confinement and a dishonorable discharge. Whether "robo-tripping," "huffing" or even using hand-sanitizer to get high, Van Maasdam said Airmen need to understand these, and other types of medication abuse, are illegal within the military.

"If you are trying to use any medication beyond the manufacturer's purpose, you could be subject to serious disciplinary action and legal ramifications," she said.

1. Codeine use without a prescription

Van Maasdam said the number one way Airmen, especially those stationed in the United Kingdom, can ruin their career with drugs is by using products containing codeine, without a prescription. Although, codeine is legal over the counter in the UK, it is still considered a narcotic by the military, and must be used in conjunction with a doctor's orders.

"In the UK, codeine can be purchased without a prescription," Van Maasdam said. "However, doing so could result in an Airman receiving a maximum punishment of five years confinement and a dishonorable discharge."

‘Iron Man’ Suit’s Process Important to DoD, Official Says

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

MacDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., Feb. 4, 2015 – The Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit is being designed to give protection and capabilities to U.S. special operators, but the process of designing it may be as revolutionary as the suit itself, said U.S. Special Operations Command officials.

TALOS started 18 months ago, after incidents downrange caused SOCOM to take a hard look at how special operators are outfitted.

“We’ve put a lot of great technology on the battlefield, but have we really taken a step back and taken a clean sheet and said for the next five, 10, 15 years do we need what we’ve got now, or do are there other game-changing technologies we can incorporate?” James Geurts, Socom’s acquisition executive, said during a recent interview.

TALOS is an Important Program

Geurts said there are two fundamental reasons for the TALOS program. The first is the most obvious -- DoD needs to examine new ways to protect and enable special operations service members.

“It’s not just body armor; it’s all the things that go into that,” he said.

This includes sensors, heads-up displays, an exoskeleton to reduce the load special operators carry, medical sensors, and much, much more.

The second reason keys on the question, “Are there new ways we can redesign how we acquire capability for the force?” Geurts asked.

Geurts used the examples of Kickstarter and collaborative crowd-sourced designs. He also pointed to the strides 3D printing/manufacturing has made.

Appreciation of Technology

Special Operations Command is uniquely positioned to do both, he said. “We’re a joint force, we value technology, we’ve got inherent capabilities to acquire it, and we have a long history of always looking to exploit whatever is available rapidly and get it on the battlefield,” Geurts said.

The Army, Navy and Air Force have responsibility to man, train and equip forces. The services and defense agencies have their own acquisition systems, with their own strengths and weaknesses, just like Socom.

“The key to me, is how do we take the strengths of both -- just like we do operationally -- so we’re both better,” Geurts said.

Socom’s advantages include nimbleness, agility and adaptability, Geurts said. The service branches, he added, have the advantage of scale, amplification, large networks and deep benches.

Small, Joint Acquisition Task Force

The TALOS effort is a good example of what Socom can bring to the acquisition process, Geurts said. The command has a small joint acquisition task force concentrating on the suit. They have opened the process up to an incredible number of companies, government agencies and entities and academia. They also held a “rapid prototyping event” last year, he said, that brought together all these players. It allowed the range of people to exchange the range of experiences, products and processes.

The hands-on event strengthened the network that has grown up around the suit, Geurts said. This acquisition strategy has worked beautifully for TALOS, he said, which has made tremendous progress.

“If we can close the distance between operator, acquirer, technologist, then I can create things that each would not independently create on their own,” he said. “[We’re] always worried about not providing a solution to the operator because they didn’t know to ask for it or not taking advantage of technology because I didn’t know how [the operators] could use it.”

“The real strength is the network,” Geurts said. “I’m not a person who thinks we should find one perfect acquisition process. I don’t think it exists. We buy a multitude of things. At Socom, what I’m looking for is: How do I have a multitude of tools and an acquisition workforce that knows which tool to pick for the job?”

Creating the next aircraft would probably call for a disciplined acquisition process that looks hard at the requirements and the trade-offs, Geurts said. Replacing a sensor on an aircraft, he added, may call for a more agile and adaptable process.

Tailored for Invention, Not Acquisition

“If I’m inventing something that doesn’t exist, neither of those processes is likely the best,” Geurts said. “TALOS is putting together another tool we haven’t fully exploited in DoD that’s tailored for invention, not acquisition.”

For this process the question becomes how does Socom “crowd-source from all entities of government, industry and academia and form partners and leverage all that to get a diverse input,” Geurts said.

TALOS has attracted companies and entities not used to working within a DoD system. “The wider and more diverse the players, the greater the solution set we can come up with,” he said.

Another question Socom is wrestling with is how to create “rolling collaboration events” and not just a “once-and-done,” Geurts said.

TALOS already has spun off 12 or 14 things that are a by-product of the research. “The end-product is certainly important, but the new things we acquire along the way and the new processes we develop are just as important,” he said.