Monday, August 03, 2015

Eye in the sky, RPA Airmen in the Red Flag fight

by By Tech. Sgt. Nadine Barclay
432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

8/3/2015 - CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nevada -- The sun beats down on the dry Nevada desert bringing a smell of fuel that fills the air. Engines begin roaring to life as the Airmen of the 432nd Wing prepare to support Red Flag 15-3 from July 13-31, 2015.

Located approximately an hour from Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, where participants eat, sleep and breathe Red Flag operations the Airmen of Creech didn't let the distance hinder their opportunity to show the rest of the Air Force community and the world what remotely piloted aircraft can bring to the fight.

"I feel this type of training is important because of the immense integration that occurs with other Air Force assets," said Capt. Benjamin, 18th Reconnaissance Squadron MQ-1 Predator pilot. "We can go out on one of the greatest ranges in the world and play against ourselves. Having the ability to train with other assets is good; it's the key to what makes Red Flag so great."

The main mission of Red Flag is to provide a realistic combat training exercise involving the air forces of the United States and its allies. It is coordinated at Nellis AFB, Nevada, and conducted on the vast bombing and gunnery ranges of the Nevada Test and Training Range. The exercise is part of a series of advanced training programs administered by the United States Air Force Warfare Center and Nellis and executed through the 414th Combat Training Squadron.

"There was definitely a learning curve in the beginning, but we really added value to the scenarios as the exercise progressed," said Maj. Johnny, 18th RS Red Flag Detachment commander. "During the first week we had to spend a lot of time carving out a role for ourselves, as the majority of the players were unfamiliar with what we could do and how we employ. As the exercise progressed, you could see the mission commanders start to utilize us in a larger role. "

This isn't the first time the RPAs have participated in the Red Flag exercise. However, Airmen noticed a change in how they met their goal of fully integrating RPAs into large force exercises (LFEs), which is to educate and familiarize other major weapon systems (MWS) communities on the RPA capabilities.

The MQ-1 Predator was among other elite aircraft participating in the Red Flag exercise to include: B-52 Stratofortresses, KC-135 Stratotankers, F-22 Raptors, F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-15 Eagles, and F-15E Strike Eagles.

The exercise also gave Airmen the opportunity to join forces with sister service assets such as the U.S. Navy's EA-18G Growlers, F/A-18 Hornets, MH-60 Sikorsky and the U.S. Marine Corp's EA-6B Prowlers to accomplish Red Flag exercise mission objectives.

The Predator carries the Multi-Spectral Targeting System, which integrates an infrared sensor, color/monochrome daylight TV camera, image-intensified TV camera, laser designator and laser illuminator. The full-motion video from each of the imaging sensors can be viewed as separate video streams or fused. The aircraft can employ two laser-guided missiles, Air-to-Ground Missile-114 Hellfire, that possess highly accurate, low-collateral damage, and anti-armor, anti-personnel engagement capabilities.

"We participated in this Red Flag to give our aircrew the training experience of being integrated with other players and showcase what we bring to the fight and learn what they bring all while integrating to accomplish a specific mission set," added Benjamin.

Daily missions vary in complexity and severity but focus on building skills in dynamic targeting, global strike missions, counter-air missions, and combat search and rescue scenarios.
In addition to the integration with manned assets, RPA Airmen were able to gather more insight on operations from a ground point of view.

"Flying the aircraft remotely from the ground, gave us access to a variety of communication mediums that manned assets don't have access to while in flight," said Johnny. "By the last week of the exercise, we were instrumental in many scenarios and especially during Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) scenarios."

To enhance working familiarity between joint and allied partners, Creech sensor operators contributed to end-of-day aircrew out briefs to discuss lessons learned.

"Most of the other players don't know about what RPAs do," said Staff Sgt. Llyod, 18th RS MQ-1 Predator sensor operator. "They don't know what we can bring to the fight but seeing them face to face allows us to educate the other participants of Red Flag and learn more than we could of from Creech."

During debriefs aircrews are evaluated on how effective they performed against targets, how effective the threat picture was at defeating their team as well as how they performed individually.

For training purposes, Red Flag RPA aircrews were also observed by instructors to allow maximum information exchange between aircrew and Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC).

"We observe over the shoulder for safety. Just like a spotter does in the gym, we make sure you are doing things correctly but the pilot and sensor are running the show," said Benjamin.
The Red Flag exercise is a training tool used to build confidence, familiarity, and relationships among DoD warfighters to include those with little to no experience partnering with other aircraft or ground personnel.

"Our ultimate goal when selecting crews for the exercise was to get younger pilots and sensor operators involved so that we could get them that experience level of working with joint assets before they are required to perform these operations real-world," said Benjamin.

Overall, more than 27 aircrew Airmen from Creech participated in addition to numerous maintenance personnel, intelligence analysts, security forces members, and aircraft communication maintenance squadron personnel.

California Guard, Reserve Units Aid in Wildfire Containment

By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3, 2015 – California Air National Guardsmen and Air Force Reservists are assisting first responders in fighting ongoing wildfires in Northern California, the Pentagon’s press operations chief said in a briefing here today.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said the blaze has been ravaging the Lower Lake area north of San Francisco and has tripled in size over the weekend. The fires have expanded to cover about 84 square miles and 56,000 acres as authorities ordered more than 12,000 people to evacuate their homes.

“Nearly 1,100 California Guard soldiers and airmen on a state active-duty status, along with 11 Guard helicopters, are supporting [The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection] and the California Office of Emergency Management at fires in the northern part of the state,” Davis said.

C-130s Joining the Effort

Additionally, the California Air National Guard deployed two C-130 Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems, or MAFFS, to McClellan Airfield outside of Sacramento so they can assist first responders with the Rocky Fire, he said.

Further efforts, according to Davis, include the activation of two Air Force Reserve MAFFS aircraft slated to depart their home station of Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, today.

Davis explained the Peterson aircraft will join the two National Guard C-130s at McClellan to support the National Interagency Fire Center’s effort in containing the wildfires throughout the state.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who is involved in the firefighting efforts, as well as those who have been personally impacted by this event,” he said.

Face of Defense: F-22 Demo Team Airman 'Lives, Loves' Life

By Air Force Senior Airman Kayla Newman
633rd Air Base Wing

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. , Aug. 3, 2015 – Through the crowd of people, the chaos of vendors and food trucks, and the overbearing sound of aircraft zooming through the sky, one U.S. Air Force airman engages with the masses and broadcasts the Air Force story to all who will listen.

Senior Airman Kyara Johnson, 94th Aircraft Maintenance Unit weapons loader, enlisted in 2013 and is now a member of the F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team -- the first female to earn a spot on the crew. She typically handles the music and video camera during air shows.

“I’ve had people come up to me and tell me they just had to talk to me because they are happy that a female is on the team,” Johnson said.

A Life Far From Ordinary

“She is definitely a breath of fresh air for the team,” said Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Billie, F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team maintenance team chief. “Her work ethic is astounding. You never have to ask her to do anything because she is already three steps ahead of you. And she does it with a smile on her face.”

Before Johnson joined the demo team, her days consisted of loading bombs and missiles onto F-22s, the world’s only operational fifth-generation fighter aircraft, as well as ensuring the weapons system remained up-to-date.

On the road however, Johnson’s life is far from ordinary.

“We have early mornings and really long days,” she said. “You think it’s going to be a long day, and it is, but it’s so fun that you really don’t notice it.”

Since the performance aircraft isn’t equipped with weapons, Johnson welcomes the opportunity to branch out of her career field while remaining in the F-22 community. Being a "people person" helps her with her new tasks as well, she said.

During air shows, the demo team has a tent set up to give the local community the opportunity to interact with airmen, as well as learn about the Air Force and the aircraft.

“We get a lot of people who come by asking questions about the [F-22]. How it works and how fast does it go,” Johnson said. “You have to engage in conversation and make sure they are pumped up and ready for the demo.”

'Live, Love, Life'

While Johnson remains modest in how she interacts with the crowds, her team chief said he sees much more than Johnson lets on.

“There isn’t one specific story that I could tell and say ‘Oh wow that was amazing,’ because she does it every day,” Billie said. “When we are out engaging with the public, watching her is awesome. It puts a smile on [everybody's] face, because she is just that good.”

Johnson said bringing smiles isn't difficult for her. By applying her motto, "Live, Love, Life," to her daily routine, she said she can accomplish almost anything.

“You can’t let any and every thing get you down. You have to look at the positive,” said Johnson. “Things could be going so wrong, but you have to think about it -- there’s somebody who is worse off than you. So you have to count your blessings and be thankful.”

Tinker B-52 shop reduces production time, boosts savings

by April McDonald
72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

7/31/2015 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The numbers alone speak for themselves.

Using the Art of the Possible and a modular flow process, the 551st Commodities Maintenance Squadron's B-52 Wrap Cowls shop has reduced its production time from 155 days to around 22 days. That's a difference of 133 days and a savings of more than $1 million during the last four years.

David Deal, 551st CMMXS B-52 Wrap Cowls shop supervisor, said the shop's old cradle-to-grave process was slow and not clearly defined. It's not that way with modular flow, which breaks the process down into six different segments, or modules. Each module has a designated number of hours for the mechanics to do their jobs before sending the part to the next station.

"Every time it moves, a new one takes its place," Deal said. "It's a complete cycle all the way through."

A cowl is the metal covering around an aircraft engine, similar to a hood on a car. The shop produces a cowl every one-and-a-half days. That translates into about 322 a year.

"This year, we've done so well that they've had to back our numbers down because we've outpaced our customers," Deal said.

Under the cradle-to-grave approach, each mechanic had to be good at the entire process. With modular flow, the mechanics become very proficient with a small section of each part of the process, Deal said.

He said workers are a big part of the shop's success, as they are the driving force behind many of the changes.

"The whole process is designed around the workers being involved," Deal said. "Basically, it involves the employees at the very bottom level."

Leadership included employees in meetings where they discussed the process and brainstormed ideas to save time and money.

"Absolutely, these folks are the engines behind all this," Deal said. "They do it every day. There will be times they bring things in to me and we'll make a change if it makes sense."

Darrel Anderson, 551st CMMXS director, said the B-52 Wrap Cowls shop is definitely a success story.

"This shop is a good example of where the AFSC Way has caught hold," he said. "From bringing those ideas forward, advocating for change and constantly looking for improvements, this team understands their process, can quickly identify constraints and uses process improvement to eliminate those constraints. They are excellent problem solvers."

Anderson said about four years ago the shop had back orders through the roof.

"We were really struggling," he said. "Now we're cranking them out, smooth as silk. It was a matter of designing the shop with optimum throughput in mind, engaging our enterprise partners and training and enabling our people to be part of the solution."

New Horizons medical team supports exercise personnel and Hondurans

by Capt. David J. Murphy
1st Combat Camera Squadron

8/3/2015 - TRUJILLO, Honduras  -- New Horizons Honduras 2015 training exercise medical personnel have provided medical support to exercise personnel and Hondurans since June 2015 and will continue to do so until early August.

The 15-person medical team is made up of a general surgeon, anesthesiologist, operating room nurse, emergency medicine provider, biomedical equipment technician and 10 emergency medical technicians. The team's primary mission is to support all exercise personnel with point-of-injury immediate care before transfer to a main mobile forward surgical team.

"If someone gets injured here on the construction or well site we can provide immediate treatment to include self-aid buddy care, and IVs and intubation," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brian Milner, 341st Medical Operations Squadron, 341st Medical Group, out of Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mo., "and once we stabilize the patient, we can transport them, via ambulance, to the hospital where they will receive follow-on care."

While the medical team supported all New Horizons personnel, their main mission was to provide support to the U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 823rd RED HORSE Squadron from Hurlburt Field, Fla., and U.S. Marines from the 271st Marine Wing Support Squadron from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., during the construction of the new two-classroom schoolhouse in Ocotes Alto and the wells in both Honduras Aguan and Brisas del Mar.

The team's secondary mission is humanitarian in nature and has involved medical support to the Hondurans in the Dr. Salvador Paredes Hospital in downtown Trujillo in both the operating and emergency rooms.

"To date we've probably had about 100 surgical cases and consults and in the emergency room we've probably seen about 600 patients," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Norman Zellers, 60th Medical Operations Squadron, 60th Medical Group medical physician assistant, from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., "by the time we leave here we should have seen about 800 patients total."

Zellers is in charge of the emergency room but the team's surgeon, anesthesiologist and operating room nurse support operating room activities.

"We've done a pretty wide breadth of surgeries at this point," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Ryan Jones, 56th Medical Operations Squadron general surgeon from Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., "anywhere from amputation to hernia repair to gall bladder surgery. I find the Honduran people very grateful for this service that we're providing, it's irreplaceable."

New Horizons medical and hospital personnel are working side by side during medical activities with their Honduran counterparts not only to assist one another but also to exchange information.

"I've learned a lot just being here," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Valarie Tomme, Air Force Academy medical technician out of Colorado Springs, Colo., "they do things very differently here than they do in the states...and I think it's been a great learning experience. The nurses have been able to help me a lot and teach me different ways of doing things."

Besides medical care, the team has also been able to support the hospital in other ways by lending them the support of their biomedical equipment technician, U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mark Lopez, 375th Medical Support Squadron out of Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

"These hospitals don't have a biomedical equipment technician, they don't really have a facilities maintenance of management office," said Lopez, "what they have is electrician and maintenance men and air conditioning technicians to fill in the roles to take care of the equipment...they do what they can. I'm more familiar with the more complicated systems...I can take care of anything from a simple blood pressure machine to an MRI unit and everything in between."

Lopez's primary mission involves supporting the operating room doctors when any of their equipment malfunctions.

"As they perform surgeries I need to be immediately next to the surgery, helping out or on standby whenever the equipment experiences a failure...because they have moments when they have a patient on the table to make decisions to close them up or keep going and I'm right there as a contingency plan mostly," added Lopez.

The hospital will also receive any leftover supplies that were delivered to support the medical personnel during the exercise.

"I'm very grateful for the New Horizons exercise," said Dr. Salvador Paredes Hospital Director Melissa Bonegas, "I'm very glad that you have a surgeon and doctors that were able to see patients and help them out. I'm also very pleased with the communications people who were able to help out with electricity and were able to fix the internet. I'm also very grateful that we were able to donate some paint which will help better maintain the hospital."

Communication Airmen from the 35th Combat Communications Squadron were able to repair the hospital's ailing network, bring internet connectivity to nine offices that hadn't service in more than three years, and improving connectivity in existing offices.

Despite their being more than 100 people involved in the New Horizons exercise, and it centering primarily around construction, the number of reported medical cases has been 140, and none of those cases has been severe enough in nature to require serious medical attention from the MFST team.

"Overall this has been a pretty calm to moderate deployment with regard to medical issues," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Keiyata Styerjames, 633rd Aeromedical Squadron independent duty medical technician out of Langley Air Force Base, Va., "I'd attribute the small number of medical issues primarily to the fact that service members are using proper protective equipment and they are pretty cautious."

Medical team members will begin to redeploy in early August following the exercise's official end.

New Horizons was launched in the 1980s and is an annual joint humanitarian assistance exercise that U.S. Southern Command conducts with a partner nation in Central America, South America or the Caribbean. The exercise improves joint training readiness of U.S. and partner nation civil engineers, medical professionals and support personnel through humanitarian assistance activities.

Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Discusses Education, Innovation

By Shannon Collins
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Aug. 3, 2015 – Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry O. Spencer and Jack Buckley, senior vice president of research for the College Board, spoke about innovation and education during the Military Child Education Coalition’s 17th National Training Seminar here Friday.

Spencer, who was a military child himself, spoke on the importance of education, especially for those who may be growing up in underprivileged communities.

Education 'a Big Equalizer'

"I grew up here in southeast D.C. My father was in the Army, and my mother hadn’t graduated high school," the general said. "I was the oldest of six children, and I didn’t understand the importance of education."

He said he was focused on football and girls but after graduating high school, he joined the Air Force and began to understand the value of education.

"Once I got into the Air Force, I started to mature and see how important education and technology was and how crucial it was to our warfighting capability,” he said. "I started to take any class I could get my hands on.”

He said he recently went back to his old neighborhood, and many of his friends are either in jail or no longer living. He said he may have never left the neighborhood had it not been for the Air Force and for his education.

"I’m not any smarter than they are, but I got my education, and I got to learn, and I got to travel,” he said. "Education is a big equalizer. It doesn’t matter where you come from. It doesn’t matter what advantages or disadvantages you have. If you can get your hands on education, it is the equalizer that can put you on the path to achieve anything you want to achieve.”


The general said the Air Force was born in innovation. During his career, he said, he's seen the Air Force evolve from using a low-flying F-4 Phantom to capture a single image to today’s remotely piloted aircraft recording and streaming real-time video. He also mentioned the Air Force’s fifth-generation fighters and how the Air Force runs satellites that assist the GPS technology people use in their cars.

Spencer acknowledged a negative side of innovation; while children are growing up more savvy in computing, social media, and technology, they sometimes lack in personal social skills and in professional development. He said the abbreviated talking on digital platforms has hurt their ability in professional communications.

"Some of the Facebook and Twitter technique and language, the shorthand and not using full words and sentences -- when you get into the professional environment, you have to know how to communicate," he said. "You have to know how to speak and know how to write a resume. You have to be able to write professional letters."

Spencer said he has also found that some military leaders have a tendency to just send e-mails to their people.

"In my experience, I don’t care how old you are or what your background is, nothing substitutes as a leader for getting in front of your people and talking to them face-to-face, letting them see your body language and vice versa and making sure they know exactly where you’re coming from and you know exactly where they’re coming from,” he said.

New SATs

Buckley, a former Navy nuclear engineer and surface warfare officer, said there's also a core set of skills students need in order to be successful in college.

With that in mind, he said the College Board is using innovation to redesigning the SAT. Instead of just having students take the SAT in their senior year and assessing what they haven’t learned, Buckley said, they can now take a suite of assessments starting in the eighth grade. The tests will provide diagnostic feedback in key areas such as reading and writing, which will inform students whether they are on track, Buckley said.

"We’ve also partnered with Khan Academy," he added. "They’ve produced a free assessment and made it public last month. We’ve had 250,000 people who’ve been on, and they’ve done a million practice questions, practicing new skills in reading, writing and analyzing graphs to explain them.

"If they’re not getting it, they can get real feedback and a personalized plan that can actually help them improve," Buckley said. "We’re not just coming in and grading them at the end. We’re trying to build an infrastructure and figure out where they need help and get them that help.”