Military News

Saturday, August 01, 2015

DoD Leaders Salute Winnefeld at Retirement Ceremony



By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Aug. 1, 2015 – Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr. made his mark as the Joint Chiefs’ vice chairman by “challenging institutional assumptions strategically, technically and conceptually,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said at the admiral’s retirement ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia, yesterday.

At the post’s Whipple Field, Carter told the audience comprised of DoD senior leadership and distinguished guests how Winnefeld, the ninth vice chairman, helped DoD build trust around the interagency.

“He’s been the grease in the machinery between our special operations forces and our most senior decision makers, helping remove some of the worse terrorists from the fight,” the secretary said, adding that Winnefeld helped improve DoD’s cyber security, nuclear deterrent and space capabilities.

Wrapping up 37 years in his military career, there is no question Winnefeld is “a master of the tactical, operational and strategic dimensions of warfare,” but “even bigger than Sandy’s mind is his heart,” Carter said.

Caring for the Wounded

When Winnefeld and his wife, Mary, realized hospitalized troops at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center didn’t have Wi-Fi connections, they made sure it was installed. Patients could then connect with fellow wounded warriors, battle buddies and families, the secretary noted.

The vice chairman toured worldwide with the USO to help lift troops’ spirits, and “quietly [and] humbly” mentored enlisted, officer and civilian men and women on his staff, Carter added.

“That’s the legacy of excellence you leave us with,” the secretary told Winnefeld. “You’ve helped this department and its people succeed. We can’t thank you enough for that.”

Mary Winnefeld: Giving Back

The secretary and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey touted the extensive voluntary assistance Mary Winnefeld provided military members, such as wounded warriors, and family members.

“She’s at Walter Reed so much, they call her Aunt Mary there,” Carter said.

Dempsey called Mary Winnefeld an amazing champion, who “has always gone the extra mile –- even going undercover at Walter Reed to get an unvarnished look at exactly how service members and families are treated.”

‘The World is A Safer Place’

Dempsey said Winnefeld’s accomplishments were too many to list but noted that he is “one of the Navy’s most-proficient and experienced pilots.”

Having commanded at every level afloat and ashore in the Navy, joint, allied and combatant commands, Winnefeld is an inspirational leader who took the nation’s men and women into battle and hostile territories to fight those who sought to do harm to the United States, the chairman said.

“We are safer today because of Sandy’s service,” Dempsey said.

“The world remains a dangerous place,” the chairman said.

“Sandy and I have faced the most complicated, complex and disparate challenges imaginable advising the president and leading the nation’s military. From terrorists, to the Ebola virus, to cyber attacks, Sandy’s intellect, work ethic and patriotism have been invaluable in ensuring America remains safe and prosperous.”

Dempsey awarded the vice chairman the Defense Distinguished Service Medal while Mary Winnefeld was honored with the DoD Medal for Distinguished Public Service.

‘An Extraordinary Privilege’

No nation on earth has ever been blessed with as many allies as the United States has had, Winnefeld told audience members.

“It’s been such an extraordinary privilege to serve our great nation in uniform … the best part has been the extraordinary people I’ve come to know on this journey,” he said.

“I’ve served with the most dedicated civilians, sailed with the best sailors, flown alongside the most gifted airmen and supported the most lethal yet compassionate soldiers, Marines and special operators on this planet. It’s been a heck of a ride,” he added.

Winnefeld thanked audience members and the American people for giving him “the high privilege for a few years of helping protect this beautiful land we love so much.”

DoD Officials Observe Counter-Drone Demo in California



By Lisa Ferdinando
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

POINT MUGU, Calif., Aug. 1, 2015 – Small, unmanned aircraft systems, or drones, are easy to obtain and launch and they’re hard to detect on radar, making them of particular concern to the Department of Defense, according to officials taking part in the Black Dart 2015 counter-UAS demonstration held here.

Black Dart 2015, which began July 26 and runs to Aug. 7, is DoD's largest live-fly, live-fire joint counter-UAS technology demonstration, Navy Cmdr. David Zook, chief of the Capabilities Assessment Division with the Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense Organization, or JIAMDO, told reporters yesterday.

Zook briefed reporters at Naval Base Ventura County and Sea Range here. He said the demonstration is bringing together some 1,000 people, including industry personnel, observers from allied nations, and participants from four military branches.

Small drones can be launched from virtually anywhere and fly a significant radius, Zook said.

"Small manned and unmanned aircraft have always been hard to find,” he said. “It's hard to tell the difference in the radar cross section from that and other small airborne vehicles or even birds.”

Black Dart 2015 provides “a unique and very valuable window for us to come together for two weeks here and practice in a littoral environment, a land-based environment and a deep-sea environment in many different scenarios," Zook said.

Zook said the demonstration features cooperation and interoperability among military services in air and missile defense, while also assessing the anti-UAS capabilities of DoD, its agency partners and industry.

Previous Black Dart demonstrations have resulted in new systems or improvements in technology, tactics, and procedures that have helped the warfighter, he said.

Staying One Step Ahead

One only needs to look at recent news reports to see incidents involving members of the public using drones, including a quadcopter that landed at the White House, said Air Force Maj. Scott Gregg, Black Dart’s project officer.

Drones can easily be purchased over the Internet or at a hobby shop, Gregg said. Defense officials are focused on staying ahead of the threat, he said.

"If there is anything that the terrorists have shown, it’s that they’ll be innovative and use anything that they can at their disposal to do what they're trying to do," Gregg said.

"What we're trying to do at Black Dart is make sure that we are staying ahead of the game and that we have a good understanding of their capabilities before those capabilities outpace ours," he added.

The smaller class of drones is an "emphasis item" this year at Black Dart, in response to concerns from combatant commanders and interagency partners, including law enforcement agencies, Gregg said.

"It's a problem for everyone," he said.

More than 70 countries are using UASs, either in government or military application, Gregg said.

Gregg points out that radio-controlled model aircraft have similar performance and capabilities to some of the UASs that are considered to be threats.

"It's a burgeoning market. The threat is expanding rapidly, proliferation is expanding rapidly and it's not just a military threat," he said. "Our allies are using them, our coalition partners are using them, but our adversaries are using them too."

Oklahoma ANG unit begins transition with arrival of first MC-12W aircraft

by Senior Airman Justin Creech
137th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


7/30/2015 - WILL ROGERS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Okla. -- The Oklahoma Air National Guard's 137th Air Refueling Wing welcomed the arrival of the Air Force MC-12W aircraft here, July 10.

The arrival of the MC-12 marks the return of flying operations to WRANGB for the first time since 2007.

The 137 ARW received the MC-12 based on its manpower, facilities, existing command structure, and strong relationships with local community leaders. The geographical location of the 137th provides a highly conducive flying environment and appropriate training facilities.

"The 137th Air Refueling Wing is very excited to return flying operations back to Will Rogers Air National Guard Base and join Air Force Special Operations Command," said Air Force Col. Devin R. Wooden, 137 ARW commander. "Our last eight years at Tinker Air Force Base and our partnership with the 507th Air Refueling Wing is an honored part of our great history. We proudly flew off of this ramp for 58 years before we left for Tinker and to be a part of the team to bring flying operations back is very satisfying. I feel like everyone is back home."

The MC-12 is a medium-to low-altitude, twin-engine turboprop aircraft. Its primary mission is to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support directly to ground forces serving overseas.

The partnership between AFSOC and the Air National Guard, and the ability of the ANG to retain members is another reason WRANGB was chosen to house the MC-12. Air National Guard members historically leave units at significantly lower rates than Active Duty units, which will allow Manned Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance expertise to be retained long-term and become more fully developed.  The ANG unit will be able to retain critical expertise by recruiting and retaining those members who are planning to separate from active duty.

"I am personally very happy to be back at the base at which I began my military career," said Air Force Lt. Col. Justin Walker, 185th Air Refueling Squadron commander. "I am also very excited about the addition of new tactical Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance aircrew members to the squadron.

The basing of the MC-12 is a significant moment for the 137 ARW as they transition to an Air Force Special Operations Wing. As a part of AFSOC, the wing will provide highly-trained Air Commandos to execute global special operations missions.

As part of the first Air National Guard/Air Force Reserve partnership, the 137 ARW has been functioning as a geographically separated base with KC-135 Stratotanker flight operations at Tinker Air Force Base and support operations at WRANGB. This partnership was the result of the last major Base Relocation and Closure commission that threatened the 137th with permanent closure.

"The squadron, and ultimately the wing are poised for complete mission success due to the mix of current and new members," said Walker.