Military News

Monday, August 24, 2015

Seven countries participate in exercise

by Staff Sgt. Wes Wright
JBER Public Affairs


8/24/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The Pacific Air Forces' area of responsibility is home to 60 percent of the world's population, comprising 36 nations spread over 52 percent of the Earth's surface. PACAF is charged with promoting peace, prosperity and stability across the entire domain.

Enter Red Flag Alaska: a coalition exercise testing the capabilities of air forces from around the world in high-stakes aerial combat situations. Red Flag gives aircrews their first 10 simulated combat missions. During the Vietnam War, studies showed that the first 10 combat missions for aircrews were the ones where they are most likely to be shot down.

Red Flag Alaska 15-3 is the largest of the year and one of the most complex ever conducted.

The exercise includes more than 80 different aircraft spread between Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Eielson Air Force Base, with seven Pacific flags represented: the United States, Australia, Britain, New Zealand, Thailand, Japan and South Korea.

"Everyone has to work together to get the mission done," said Master Sgt. Phillip Sawin, 354th Operations Group Detachment 1 maintenance superintendent. "You'll see not only are we helping all the foreign units, but you'll see the foreign units helping each other. It's really a great visual of the interoperability and cooperation that happens here."

This year, that cooperation links the ground and the skies. Japanese paratroopers jumped out of U.S. C-130 Hercules for the first time and U.S. Army Soldiers honed their skills jumping out of Australian C-130s.

One of the U.S. Soldiers to fly with the Aussies was Staff Sgt. Colton Hurley, a jumpmaster with B Company, 3rd Battalion (Airborne), 509th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.

"I like the way they interacted with us. Communication was top-notch. They showed us how they did things and then asked us what we needed to make sure we executed our mission according to our standards," Hurley said. "As a Soldier about to jump out of an aircraft, it gives me a lot of confidence to know they know what they're doing and that our procedures are so similar. It builds trust, which is critical for real-world mission success."

The Red Flag deployed forces commander, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Andrew Campbell said the scale of the exercise offers unmatched training opportunities.

"One of the great things about Red Flag 15-3 is the number of international partners we have here," Campbell said. "Our ability to come out here, join forces and operate in a high-end combat environment with everything the Red Flag infrastructure offers us is an incredible opportunity to theater security out here in the Pacific."

The U.S. and its international partners are conducting several different types of scenarios designed to improve interoperability.

"We have defensive counter-air scenarios where they practice defense against a large-scale air attack," said Lt. Col. Dylan Dylan Baumgartner, 354th Operations Group Detachment 1 commander. "There are also offensive counter-air scenarios, practicing taking the fight to the enemy: taking down their air defenses and fighting their way into enemy airspace, while protecting themselves from enemy air defenses."

Several of the participating nations' aircrews spoke highly of the opportunity to come together with coalition partners to hone their skills.

"One of the biggest things we're looking for is the interoperability we get with the other pacific nations," said Squadron Leader Scott Harris, Detachment C, 84th Wing, Royal Australian Air Force, commander. "That is very important when it comes to things like humanitarian assistance and natural-disaster relief. It's been good for the Royal Australian Air Force. We've learned a lot of lessons. Our crews have done really well. They've pulled their socks up on the operational and maintenance side as well."

"It's a capability test for us," Harris continued. "What we're looking for is to really test the guys in a radar-threat environment. We want to make sure the maintainers can support our rate of effort that we fly when we're here."

Building integration, interoperability and cross-cultural competence is one of the primary goals of Red Flag and other multinational PACAF exercises.
Red Flag is a culmination of exercises like Cope North and Cope Tiger that happen every year, with many of the same countries and faces in attendance.

Those exercises, while smaller in scale, help everyone execute at a much higher level during Red Flag Alaska, Campbell said. Everyone comes together and practices their craft in a world-class training facility with a much larger force to capitalize on all those lessons learned.

That facility includes the Joint Alaska Pacific Range Complex, composed of 67,000 square miles of what Campbell called "the best training space in the world for anyone who flies airplanes in combat."

Participating in an exercise the size of Red Flag affords many unique opportunities to all countries in attendance, but particularly to those not used to flying in large formations or with a multitude of advanced and dynamic aircraft like the U.S.'s fifth-generation fighter, the F-22 Raptor.

"The most interesting thing for us is learning how compose a large flying package that involves many different types of aircraft," said Senior Group Capt. Wachira Roengrit, Royal Thai Air Force's Red Flag 15-3 Detachment commander. "The big takeaways for us are the improvements to our low-altitude flying techniques and knowledge on how to best build packages for airdrop. This large force employment is the biggest we participate in. We have many exercises in our country, but Red Flag is the most important one for our C-130 guys."

Working together to ensure seamless integration of tactics, techniques and procedures is a goal set from day one at Red Flag Alaska. 

"Over the years we've done a lot of work to make sure our doctrine is pretty similar," Harris said. "So, it's actually quite an easy thing for us to operate with each other. Procedures are very similar."

Those similar procedures were crucial to the success of the Australian-led drop of U.S. Army Soldiers.

"Quite a bit of planning went into the front end of it," said Warrant Officer Ken Rodney, Royal Australian Air Force C-130J loadmaster. "It was a unique experience to get to brief with our the U.S. jumpmasters and jump safeties. It was great to do it with another nation like the United States. It really showcased our interoperability to have U.S. Army Soldiers jumping out of our birds. It went quite smoothly."

While the airborne contingent of the exercise is working through their hurdles and challenges, the same interoperability and cross-culture cooperation is happening on the ground with maintenance. With many nations traveling great distances to attend, only so many parts and supplies can travel with them.

"They try to bring as much as they can, coming from distant lands," Sawin said. "A lot of the small parts and pieces we can get for them. Bigger things like props and engines have to be shipped. That's when our travel management office and supply guys step in and help get supplies shipped. The maintenance piece is very much a joint multinational effort to make sure everyone's planes stay in fight."

The success flying and maintenance operations are enjoying is made possible largely by the personal relationships forged between the men and women, hailing from different corners of the world, according to many of the countries spokespersons.

"Exercises like Red Flag support theater security cooperation, particularly with regard to personal relationships we develop," Campbell said. "The relationships we build throughout the year at these other exercises enable us to have success during real world operations."

Campbell's Australian counterpart, Squadron Leader Harris, agreed with that assessment.

"The interrelations are very important," Harris said. "From the mission planning side of the house, good relationships are absolutely a key enabler to making this thing work. A lot of the time, it's the personalities in the room that make the missions come off without a hitch.

"Around the Pacific rim, when we have things go wrong like in the 2013 Philippines disaster, we see each other all the time. The relationships we make in exercises like Red Flag pay massive dividends later when we need to talk to each other and provide assistance around the world," Harris said.

Some of the JBER Airmen are going so far as to help advise partner nation participants on the best fishing holes for their off duty time.

"My favorite part is the camaraderie," Sawin said. "Everyone is happy. People seem to really enjoy Alaska. I advised the Australians on what river to go to for the best fishing and which lures work best. They came back the next day and were excited they had caught a fish. The Thais even cooked it up for them. That spirit of friendship is just awesome."

Red Flag organizers are planning an end of exercise party to help cement relations.

"We're going to cook up a big feast," Sawin said. "We not only talk about work, but we talk about our respective countries and heritage. It's really great to see. All the different units will bring an assortment of food from their native country. It's a great experience."

While aircrews from all the nations are honing their skill, fostering interoperability and improving cross-cultural competence, while at the same time having fun, the bigger strategic picture of why Red Flag exists is not lost on them.

"I absolutely believe these kinds of exercise like Red Flag and all the others PACAF and PACOM put together where we go out and engage with our Pacific partners are the foundation of the peace, prosperity and stability millions of people enjoy."

Red Flag began Aug. 6, and is slated to conclude Saturday.

Navy Senior Chief Named American Culinary Federation’s Chef of the Year



By Jim Garamone DoD News Features, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, August 24, 2015 — Say "military cook" to most Americans, and they will conjure a picture of Cookie in the Beetle Bailey comic strip.

They certainly wouldn’t conjure a picture of Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Derrick D. Davenport, an executive chef with the Joint Staff and the 2015 American Culinary Federation’s Chef of the Year.

The Chef of the Year is the highest award presented by the federation, and Davenport is the first military chef to earn it since the award was established in 1963. He competed for the award at the ACF’s annual convention in Orlando, Florida, earlier this month.

Unlike Cookie who is forever pictured in a stained T-shirt stirring sauce or slopping chipped beef on a tray, Davenport is a slim and trim culinary specialist who is the executive chef/senior enlisted aid to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey.

Growing Up in the Kitchen

Davenport said he got his start watching his father and grandmothers cook in Detroit.

“My dad is the family cook, and one of my grandmothers is a professional cook, and the other is just a good Southern cook,” Davenport said during an interview. “I always hung around the kitchen with all three of them. Early on, my grandmother said I’d watch episodes of PBS’s Julia Child just as much as Sesame Street. I always gravitated to the kitchen and cooking.”

He went to a culinary school in Livonia, Michigan, and then worked at restaurants and country clubs in and around Detroit for a few years before joining the Navy in 2000.

“I always wanted to serve my country,” he said. “One of the master chefs I worked for was in the Navy back in the Vietnam era, and he’d always regale his class with sea stories and all the great times he had.”

Davenport remembered that when he was looking for his next challenge. His recruiter told him the Navy was the only branch that worked for presidential food service, “and that kind of became my goal.”

Career on Land, at Sea

First, though, he served aboard the fast attack submarine USS Annapolis out of Groton, Connecticut, for five years, and then served as an instructor at Great Lakes Naval Training Center located near Chicago.

Davenport served 14 months in Herat, Afghanistan, in 2006 and 2007. He was able to get out of the forward operating base and see some of the western Afghanistan city.

“We built a couple of schools and I worked with the Afghan National Army,” he said. “I would walk to the Afghan DFAC to train the Afghan cooks how to cook.”

The instruction was to teach the Afghans the hygienic way to cook, Davenport said.

“We would make sure they handled stuff that they butchered correctly -- no cross-contamination. We made sure they cooked to the proper temperature. I learned a lot from their style of cooking, as well,” he said.

Culinary Talent

Davenport was selected for the chairman’s staff because they needed a chief who could both cook and lead. The test was they gave him a basket of food and said he had 30 minutes to craft a menu and make a three-course meal.

“I did seared tuna with an Asian slaw, chicken breast risotto and a Grand Marnier mousse for dessert,” he said. “I was hired on the spot.”

Davenport worked for former Joint Chiefs Chairman Navy Adm. Mike Mullen for three years and stayed when Dempsey became chairman.

Davenport uses fresh in-season produce and fruit when he cooks. He said the Dempseys give him a lot of latitude.

“They give us full creativity to do what we want within the dietary restrictions of the guests,” he said. “We cook healthy foods and try not to overdo it on the calories.”

Competing Around the Country

For the Chef of the Year competition, Davenport first had to compete regionally. He won that competition in Buffalo, New York, in January. The secret ingredient he had to cook was rabbit.

In Orlando, the secret ingredient was squab and frog. That competition was like Iron Chef in front of an audience of chefs. The rules are four courses in one hour with no advance prep.

“I tried to keep everything summery and light because hey, it’s July in Orlando with 100 percent humidity,” he said.

The first course was tomato consomme with tomato compote and a frog fritter on top of that.

“The second course was a smoked squab breast … and a small salad and some pickled fruits with citrus vinaigrette and a goat cheese soufflĂ©,” he said. “The third course I sort of paid homage to my Dad and grandmothers -- those good Southern cooks -- so I was thinking shrimp and grits, but I couldn’t use shrimp so I substituted frog legs.”

The fourth course was squab with the dark meat made into a sort of sausage and the breast meat in the center. Davenport had two apprentice chefs helping, but they could not touch the secret ingredient.

And he won.

“The judges said we had the cleanest and most organized kitchen. They loved the way we worked in the kitchen before they even got to the food,” he said. “There was no gear adrift, as we say in the Navy, and the tables and cutting surfaces were always wiped down. It’s from my Navy training to keep it clean because if you’ve got a food-borne illness on a ship, you are killing the mission because everybody is down for the count.”

The senior chief will stay with the chairman until he retires next month, and then the chef of the year will move to the White House Mess for his next assignment.

Army Depot Explosion in Japan Remains Under Investigation



By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News Features, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, August 24, 2015 — The cause of an explosion and the resulting large fire at a storage building early today at the Army’s Sagami General Depot in Sagamihara City, Japan, remains under investigation, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said.

Davis told reporters that no indications of injuries exist, and the building was not designated as a hazardous material storage facility, as some initial reports had suggested.

“The Sagami General Depot does not store ammunition or radiological materials,” Davis said, adding that the building contained canisters of compressed gasses such as nitrogen, oxygen, Freon and air.

No U.S. military personnel live at the Sagami General Depot, and about 200 personnel work at the depot during the day, officials said.

Fire Died On Its Own

The explosion reportedly triggered a blaze that burned through the night, but the fire died on its own about six hours after it started, shortly before 1 a.m., Japan time, with firefighters standing by, according to U.S. Army Japan reports. By about 5:30 a.m., smoldering was still evident inside the building, but the fire did not spread beyond the building, the reports said.

The concrete single-story building is about the size of a large residence, said Pentagon press operations spokesman Navy Cmdr. William Urban. “The walls of the building remain intact, but the windows and doors are damaged, and about half of the roof collapsed,” he added.

First Responders Arrived Quickly

About 14 Sagamihara City fire department vehicles and 50 firefighters responded to assist Army emergency services with additional assets from the Sagamihara City police, the reports noted.

“The appreciates the quick reaction and support from the local emergency services of our Japanese ally,” Davis said.

Sagami Depot is about 25 miles southwest of Tokyo and has several functions. It stores equipment -- primarily medical supplies for crisis or contingency missions for Army pre-positioned stocks-- and serves as headquarters of the 35thSustainment Support Battalion, a logistics unit prepared to support the Pacific theater. It also is home to both the Mission Training Complex -- a simulation center -- and elements from the 403rd Army Field Support Brigade, which manages the Army pre-positioned stocks and maintenance activities, the reports said.

The Army and Sagamihara City conduct bilateral emergency response exercises to prepare for such events, officials noted.

Munitions Airmen blow doors off Red Flag

by Airman 1st Class Kyle Johnson
JBER Public Affairs


8/24/2015 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- A unique aspect of Eielson is  it only really has two seasons - RED FLAG-Alaska season, and RF-A preparation season.

The Airmen at the 354th Maintenance Squadron's munitions flight know this very well.

"We support the 18th Aggressor Squadron with countermeasures and training missives," said Master Sgt. Rick Hedrick, the 354th MXS munitions flight materiel superintendent. "We ensure they are good to go for their training combat hours and maintain their qualifications, so when RED FLAG season comes around, they're ready to rock and roll."

To that end, the munitions flight has five operating locations where its Airmen actively build and inspect munitions and then store them in earth-covered igloos, which are large bunkers covered by earth that are isolated from the rest of the base.

"In general, we assemble chaff and flare, stuff it in modules, deliver it to the 18th Aggressors and process their expenditures," said Staff Sgt. Eleanor Coan, a 354th MXS munitions systems crew chief currently assigned to the chaff-and-flare operating location.

Every explosive munition Airmen work with is dangerous and must be handled with proper care.

"Flare is probably the most dangerous thing we have. It's electrically initiated, so static electricity could set it off," Coan said. "Once a little electricity hits the primer on it, it fires off a spark on the inside which pushes the flare and everything out, with enough force to launch it out of the aircraft and into the airstream. It's very beautiful and very, very hot."

To prevent static discharge, Airmen working on the flares must wear wristbands that ground them to some form of metal while they work.

They also cannot wear any cotton clothes, such as the waffle-top undershirt, as they generate more static electricity.

"Safety is our top priority," Coan said.

Risks like this become all the more prevalent when RF-A starts and new units begin to use the operating locations with the 354th munitions flight.

That risk is compounded by foreign military partners who sometimes use different names for the same equipment and  there's often a language barrier, Coan said.

When RF-A gets underway, more than 1,000 extra personnel arrive with their own munitions and aircraft.

"We're responsible for the support and bed-down of all the units that come in, so basically we absorb them into our unit," Hedrick said. "Right now, we have five units we are working with. We bring them in and integrate them into our operations. They work as a team together to build each other's munitions and we provide the oversight, support and equipment."

During this time, the extra units all share the munitions flight facilities for their own munitions operations.

"We basically help them take custody of their assets and process each time they fire something off," Coan said.

During RF-A season, munitions Airmen join many other units at Eielson burning the midnight oil, working 24-hour operations in a three-shift system.

The other units on temporary duty at Eielson also need to pull such shifts in order to keep up with their own munitions demands, and it is the job of the munitions control facility to determine who is going where to build what, Hedrick said.

"The melding together of all personnel is on us," Hedrick explained. "Depending on what they are requesting to drop munitions-wise, each unit is responsible for bringing their supporting personnel according to their allocation. The more they want to drop, the more personnel they are required to bring to support their mission operations."

Depending on which operation facility munitions Airmen may be assigned, they could have little with the visiting units - or they may be working extensively with them.

"The [South Korean] airmen were here last week building GBU-10s and we walked them through the whole process," said Senior Airman Justin Ponder, a 354th MXS munitions flight munitions systems journeyman.

Sometimes, they all pitch in.

"If multiple units, including foreign units, are flying the same type of chaff or flare as us, we'll just take a couple of people form each unit and do a massive build. This is what they all pull from," Coan said. "They each have their own expenditure limits and allocations, so we don't give them more than each unit is allotted."

One of the objectives of RF-A is to increase interoperability between allied forces to create a stronger, more unified force.

That mission reaches beyond the skies and is evident in ground-level missions like this one.

"We've got five units that all want to do different things at the same spot, so having to that, and overcome those language barriers with the foreign units can be challenging," Hedrick said. "We are always able to the mission and get it done."

Edwards squadron does prerequisite testing for KC-46 program

by Rebecca Amber
412th Test Wing Public Affairs


8/20/2015 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The 418th Flight Test Squadron is setting the stage for the arrival of the new KC-46 Pegasus aerial refueler with legacy tanker fuel surge testing conducted July 26 through Aug. 9. Both the KC-135 and the KC-10 were tested successively on the ground to baseline surge pressure environments.

The same test will be conducted upon the arrival of the Boeing KC-46 to determine what its surge environments will look like in flight based off of comparisons to legacy platforms.

"We know that the KC-10 and KC-135 don't cause damage to the receivers in flight during refueling. Therefore, with successful test data, we can deduce that the KC-46 should have no greater risk of causing damage in flight than any legacy platform we have in place right now," said Justin Almeleh, 418th FLTS aerial refueling flight test engineer.

The test was a risk-reduction effort designed to eliminate the need to instrument receiver fuel systems in flight. The instrumentation required to test in flight would have been very costly, technically challenging and difficult to schedule.

Instead, the ground test is conducted using a Boeing tool that is a combination of a boom test unit that connects to a surge test tool. The surge test tool in essence is a multi-pronged flow diverter that simulates a variety of fuel receiver classes seen in different airplanes.

Using that set up, fuel was sent through the boom of each aircraft and stabilized at a specific flow rate in each given line. Then, they deliberately generated surge pressures in the fuel lines to determine the maximum surge pressure a receiver would see in flight behind a KC-10 and KC-135.

With the use of different sized fuel lines and varying valve closure rates, the test team was able to simulate everything from a light and fast fighter plane receiver, to a heavy, slow cargo-type receiver.

While the purpose of the test was not to simulate the flight conditions, the team used the same pressures, loads and pump conditions that aerial refueling systems would use in flight. In the aircraft there was a full air crew, including a test conductor, discipline engineer, boom operator, pilot, and in the case of the KC-10, a flight engineer.

According to Almeleh, there were 97 people involved in the test from more than ten shops on base including 418th Flight Test Squadron, 370th Flight Test Squadron, 412th Logistics Readiness Squadron, AGE Flight, Special Instrumentation, the 412th Maintenance Squadron, fire department, 412th Civil Engineering Group, NASA and the Air Drop shop.

"It was a huge choreographed opera of support equipment with Aerospace Ground Equipment and maintenance teams and hydraulic mules," said Robert Schlein, 418th FLTS flight test engineer.

They also received logistical support from Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, maintainers from Travis AFB, California, air crew support from Air Force Reserve Command and 10 Boeing employees from Seattle. At any given time, there were at least 16 different pieces of ground equipment being used for the test.

All of that was done at night, due to heat restrictions.

By the end of the test the KC-135 off-loaded 500,000 pounds of fuel over four nights and the KC-10 off-loaded 715,000 pounds of fuel over two nights. In all, 1,215,000 pounds of fuel were off-loaded between the two aircraft over six nights.

For now, the KC-46 is being tested by the 412th Test Wing at Boeing Field in Seattle. According to Almeleh, the KC-46 will arrive at Edwards in stages, starting with specific test events. At some point two KC-46s will be stationed at Edwards for one to two years while they conduct aerial refueling certification.

The KC-46 Pegasus development program completed its first flight of Engineering and Manufacturing Development aircraft (EMD-1) Dec. 28, 2014, from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, to Boeing Field in Seattle.

EMD-1 is a provisioned 767-2C freighter and the critical building block for the KC-46 missionized aerial refueler.

"One of the biggest changes between the legacy platforms and the KC-46 is that there was a complete remake of how the boom is controlled," said Schlein.

The boom operators will no longer rely on a window view in the back of the aircraft. Instead, there is an air refueling operator's station behind the cockpit that uses video cameras, panoramic and 3D cameras to provide a 3D picture of the back, which is a "revolutionary change."

"The situational awareness that they have is significantly increased because they now have the ability to see over a 180-degree view using these panoramic cameras," said Almeleh. "Special glasses, along with the remote vision system, allow [the boom operator] to see depth perception in three dimensions of the aircraft while he's making contact [with the receiver]."

The Pegasus is also equipped with infrared cameras allowing for night vision refueling for the first time by an Air Force tanker.

The new equipment is expected to increase usability and functionality of the system during an "inherently dangerous" operation.

But, without tankers, "the reach of our military shrinks dramatically," said Almeleh. "The tanker fleet we have now is based on Cold War Era technology and it's time to upgrade and bring it into the 21st century."

The Air Force contracted with Boeing in February 2011 to acquire 179 KC-46 refueling tankers to begin recapitalizing the aging tanker fleet. The surge testing was an early but important step toward meeting the required assets available date -- a milestone requiring 18 KC-46 aircraft and all necessary support equipment to be on the ramp, ready to support warfighter needs by August 2017.

"The support and knowledge that Edwards has is unbelievable," said Almeleh. "The ability for us to execute our tests as effectively and quickly as we did was made possible only by the incredible support of those squadrons that helped."