Military News

Monday, October 19, 2015

Trilateral Air Defense Exercise Launches Malabar 2015



By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Danica M. Sirmans, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs

BAY OF BENGAL (NNS) -- Naval forces and liaisons from India, Japan and United States begin Exercise Malabar 2015, Oct. 16, through air defense collaboration.

The featured cooperation consists of aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), Carrier Airwing (CVW) 1, Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) and Indian frigate INS Shivalik (F 47).

Exercise Malabar is an annual event designed to enhance naval cooperation through engagement with India and Japan while demonstrating U.S. Naval presence in the Indo-Asia region.

"We launched aircraft from TR to simulate scenarios to exercise the Indian's self-defense," said Lt. Sean McDonnell, Normandy's air defense officer. "[It] supports the overall Malabar exercise by sharing how we control aircraft and learning how the Indian navy controls their aircraft. We're up on the same voice circuit, so it's a nice opportunity to collaborate and compare and contrast our procedures. We've sent liaison officers to the Indian vessels and welcomed their officers aboard our vessels as well to observe and learn."

McDonnell embarked TR as a liaison officer to the Normandy to help facilitate the coordination.

"My captain's responsibility is air defense of the strike group," he said. "I pass along the word from the strike group to help coordinate between the needs of the strike group and that of my commanding officer."

Capt. Scott Robertson, Normandy's commanding officer, welcomed liaison officers from both Malabar participants aboard and was pleased with the collaboration so far.

"I've been very impressed by the professionalism and maritime skill of our Indian and Japanese navy partners, and the Normandy crew is enjoying this unique opportunity," said Robertson. "The [air defense portion] kicked off a great first underway day for the Malabar exercise. The purpose of this particular [exercise] was to build familiarity and appreciation for the capabilities each of the participating navies brings to the modern air defense environment with a special emphasis on control of fighter aircraft."

The exercise allowed for hand-in-hand, shared communication to learn from each other.

"... As overall observers to manage the exercise ...," said Normandy's Senior Chief Fire Controlman Jeremiah Lawrence. "... we learned a lot about the willingness to learn from our partner nations and they performed excellently under the guidance of the tasking at hand."

Planning for the exercise began long before any of the partners embarked to the other's vessels. Lt. Cmdr. Erin Ceschini, Carrier Strike Group 12's future plans and staff meteorological and oceanographic officer, started coordination in July via video teleconferencing.

"We've got a lot of different events planned," said Ceschini, "We have air defense exercises, search and rescue, anti-submarine warfare events with Indian and U.S. submarines, along with a dry hook up with an Indian oiler and a war-at-sea exercise.

"This exercise is a big deal to the Indian, Japanese and U.S. navies," said Ceschini. "We are three democratic countries that are working together to strengthen our military relationships as well as the relationships between our nations. The success of these exercises is important especially considering the effort, planning and resources put into this exercise for these great navies to work together."

Malabar is a continuing series of complex, high-end war fighting exercises conducted to advance multi-national maritime relationships and mutual security. It will include collaboration between Theodore Roosevelt, Normandy, Freedom-class littoral combat ship USS Fort Worth (LCS 3), Los Angeles-class submarine USS City of Corpus Christi (SSN 705), Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force Akizuki-class destroyer JS Fuyuzuki (DD 118), Indian Navy Deepak-class fleet tanker INS Shakti (A 57), Brahmaputra-class guided missile frigate INS Betwa (F 39), Rajput-class destroyer INS Ravijay (D 55), Sindhughosh-class diesel-electric submarine INS Sindhuraj (S 57) and INS Shivalik.

Theodore Roosevelt is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations as part of a worldwide deployment en route to its new homeport in San Diego to complete a three-carrier homeport shift.

CSAF civic leaders visit SMC, Aerospace Corporation's STARS facility

By James Spellman, Jr.
Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs

10/16/2015 - LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, El Segundo, Calif.  -- Members of the Air Force Chief of Staff Civic Leader Program visited the Space and Missile Systems Center's Schriever Space Complex and neighboring Aerospace Corporation Tuesday afternoon to learn about the SMC mission and operations of Air Force Space Command.

Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, SMC commander and Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space, Tom Fitzgerald, SMC acting executive director and Col. Donna Turner, commander of the 61st Air Base Group hosted the Honorable Mike Gin, former mayor of Redondo Beach, Rhoda Weiss, a marketing consultant and Michael Jackson, chairman of the South Bay Association of Chambers of Commerce during their four-hour immersion. The visit included a brief stop in the SMC courtyard of the Schriever Space Complex to observe the Combined Federal Campaign kickoff event.

Gin and Weiss are members of the CSAF Civic Leader Program.

Air Force Civic Leaders serve as a civilian interface between the Air Force and the civilian community. In this role, they explain and interpret Air Force programs, positions, and problems to other key, local communicators through personal contact and correspondence, and to the general public through statements, appearances and speeches.

"It's always a pleasure and a privilege to tell the SMC story to our civic leaders," said Greaves. "We have active duty, reserves, civilians, federally-funded research and development center personnel, our sister services and liaisons from our coalition partners that are all part of this team effort. I know our civic leaders are floored when they see the 'Big Picture' here on such a small installation."

After viewing a 60th anniversary video and receiving mission overview briefings on SMC and the 61st ABG by Greaves and Turner, discussion turned to potential engagement between SBACC and SMC on an Air Force community partnership program that could lead to additional, affordable housing for single Airmen residing within the Redondo Beach area.

A "roof top" tour of the Schriever Space Complex and Los Angeles AFB followed before the group was escorted across El Segundo Blvd. to the neighboring STARS facility at The Aerospace Corporation.

Tom Warner, Aerospace Corporation director of external communications presented the CSAF civic leaders with an overview of the federally funded research and development center, with emphasis on space security and up-front capabilities of the Spacelift Telemetry Acquisition and Reporting System. Looking much like NASA's mission control center, the STARS facility is the center of action for launch operations supported by Aerospace.

During a typical launch, Aerospace analysts are on console in the STARS facility supporting SMC and AFSPC. The STARS facility processes the transmitted data which gives these analysts the ability to monitor the health of the vehicle and assist in anomaly resolution.

"The mission of Air Force Space Command, SMC and the Aerospace Corporation is a critical part of our nation's defense," said Weiss, one of the CSAF civic leaders. "I'm impressed by their roles in developing and acquiring space-based support for all of our service members. The hard work and ingenuity of these Airmen, civil servants and partners from throughout the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area and neighboring counties is something we should all be grateful for."

The CSAF Civic Leader Program's membership is composed of respected community leaders nominated by the Air Force major commands, the National Guard Bureau and Headquarters Air Force. These civic leaders are unpaid advisors, key communicators and advocates for Air Force issues. They provide ideas and feedback to advise the Secretary of the Air Force, Air Force Chief of Staff, and Air Force senior leaders about how missions can best be accomplished in their respective areas and about public attitudes toward the Air Force and Air Force activities in their areas.

Face of Defense: Airman Earns Spot on AF Pistol Team Alongside Brother



By Air Force Airman 1st Class William Johnson 436th Airlift Wing

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del., October 19, 2015 — Tucker Sears grew up with his three older brothers in Graham, Texas, all of them learning how to shoot BB guns and eventually moving up to .22-caliber rifles.

This love of guns led to plenty of hunting trips with his brothers and grandfather, but when Tucker was 12, his oldest brother, Terrence, enlisted in the Air Force after graduating high school.

Fast-forward 10 years, and Tucker is now a newly minted second lieutenant after graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy. He said he found opportunities to keep his firearms skills sharp.

"I was really fortunate and they had a range out there, and I was able to be a range safety officer," Tucker said.

In his junior and senior years, he practiced frequently at the range with his own firearms, including a Smith & Wesson M&P 9, a Sig Sauer P938 and an AR-15.

Brothers, Teammates in Arms

In 2012, while Tucker was attending the academy, his brother Terrence, a soon-to-be technical sergeant, earned a spot on the Air Force National Pistol Team. Terrence became the NCO in charge of the team this year.

In March, Tucker was invited to attend a team training camp. The camp serves as an opportunity for potential team members to showcase their skills and see if they have what it takes to make the team. Following in the footsteps of his older brother, Tucker’s knowledge and ability earned him a much-coveted spot on the pistol team.

"A lot of it is your dedication to the team and to the sport," he said. "We are limited in numbers, but for the most part if you show decent aptitude with shooting, the team will keep working with you and help you out in any way they can until you improve."

Since members of the team are stationed across the country and still have their Air Force jobs to perform, practicing and training falls primarily on the shooters themselves. Weapons, parts, range fees and ammunition are paid for out of pocket by the competitors.

Staying Sharp

"Practice time is essentially all on our own so I try to get to the range for an hour or two after work when I can." Tucker said. "The whole sport itself is about consistency so I try to lay out my magazines in the same spot every time, set up my gear the same way and go through the shot plan, even when I'm practicing."

Although the competitors are responsible for a majority of the training cost associated with shooting, there are also other forms of training that keep the shooters a step above the rest.

"Strength training is a big part of training for the competitions," Tucker said. "If you're holding a three- or four-pound pistol straight out one-handed for a day, strength becomes a factor. The slightest bit of movement of your pistol while shooting at a target 50 yards away can send your bullet two to three inches off target."

Teamwork, Success

Since making the team, Tucker has competed in two matches; the Annual Interservice Pistol Championships at Fort Benning, Georgia, where they took fifth place out of 13 teams, and at the NRA National Outdoor Rifle and Pistol Championships at Camp Perry, Ohio, where he competed on the Air Force’s Silver Team and took first place in the Sharpshooter Class.

Although Tucker found early success in his first two matches, he said just being on the team is enough.

"Before I got on the team, I would only get to see my brother maybe once or twice a year," he said. "But this past summer I got to spend three weeks with him while we competed. It's one of my favorite parts about being on the team."

There is no question about who the better shooter is, Tucker added.

"I would certainly say my brother is better at this than me, for now," Sears said. "We all want to beat each other, but at the same time we're going to help each other because of the team aspect of the sport. It's all about the friendly competition to make us all better."

Kicking down the door: The future of the bomber enterprise

by Airman 1st Class Curt Beach
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs


10/16/2015 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Airmen from the 77th and 340th Weapons Squadrons joined forces to implement the integration of standoff munitions during an exercise at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Oct. 6-9.

Aided by a host of integration experts from various squadrons, the exercise aimed to achieve two specific objectives. The first was to educate weapons school students on cruise missile employment considerations and existing processes for planning and integrating cruise missiles. The second was to advance the development of those planning processes in an attempt to make cruise missile attacks more effective and more efficient against a modern adversary. It was also critical to the two squadrons that they develop their solutions as a single bomber team.

"The desired result was to send all participants away with a greater understanding of and appreciation for the processes that will lead to successful employment of standoff munitions," said Lt. Col. Erik Johnson, 340th WPS commander. "Participants will also have a working relationship with other individuals and agencies who seek to enhance cruise missile employment."

This exercise embodied the partnership between B-1 Lancer and B-52 Stratofortress personnel.

"The integration between the platforms was great, especially when you consider that they are now united under one command," said 1st Lt. Nicholas Proulx, Standoff Munitions Application Center planner. "They spent a week working together, analyzing the threat, figuring out which tactics would work, planning which missiles were going on which jets, everything from the ground up. This is something the students of each platform have done before but not necessarily together as a team in the same room. Now we can have a bigger, better conversation on how to go about tomorrow's threat, how to tackle it as a bomber enterprise."

Following two days of mission planning, the students briefed their plan to Col. Patrick Matthews, 8th Air Force vice commander, who said, "This is very important for the Air Force," and highlighted the challenging real-world problem sets this scenario prepares these warfighters to plan and execute.

"They were essentially learning how to take down a modern Integrated Air Defense System, which is a challenge our Air Force faces every day," said Proulx. "These students are going to be subject matter experts when they go back to their squadrons and share this knowledge. Having these skills, learning them here, it's the way of the future for the bomber enterprise."

On Oct. 8, the weapons school students conducted a live-fly event to validate tactics, demonstrate execution timelines and experience a sample of potential adversary responses to their attack.

"Each weapons school class has a capstone project. This exercise was a part of that," said Proulx. "How do you take out the IADS to achieve air superiority? It's this air superiority that provides freedom of movement to our armed forces and the ability to conduct follow-on attacks uncontested by enemy air defenses."

During the exercise, aircrew from the 7th Bomb Wing ferried a B-1 Lancer here for 77th WPS students and instructors to fly in the live-fly portion of the cruise missile integration exercise. The ferry crews then returned the jets to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, after the 77th WPS completed their misison.

Two additional aspects of this exercise served to increase its effectiveness even further.

Following high-fidelity modeling and simulation, the results of this exercise fed the scenario for a future exercise, known as a vul, which focuses on advanced tactics to defeat a modern air defense network.

"The iterative learning process this creates is where we expect to see the greatest advancements in the cruise missile enterprise," said Johnson.

The coming vul historically kicks off with a standoff munitions attack, but it has never had the level of fidelity in analysis to drive realistic expectations of what an integrated cruise missile attack can accomplish. The modeling and simulation SMAC compiles will provide that fidelity for the first time. As a result of the new format, the lessons learned in this exercise will be shared with a much larger audience of weapons officers at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, in December.

The final aspect of this integration of standoff munitions exercise that will significantly advance cruise missile integration processes will occur in about six months, when the next weapons school class performs this event. They will begin their exercise with all the plans and analysis this week produced.  Rather than starting from scratch, as this class did, they will have the opportunity to improve on a plan that has already demonstrated its strengths and weaknesses.

"The better the bomber force is with these standoff tactics, the more effective the rest of the Air Force can be," said Proulx. "So it's crucial that the bomber force learns to do this well because we're going to be facing this for decades to come."

Airmen of New York's 109th Airlift Wing begin Antarctic mission

by Tech. Sgt. Catharine Schmidt
New York National Guard


10/19/2015 - STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, SCOTIA, N.Y. -- The takeoff of the New York Air National Guard's LC-130 ski-equipped aircraft here Oct. 16 marks the official start of the 109th Airlift Wing's 28th season of support to science research at the South Pole.

By the end of the month, Airmen and aircraft with the 109th Airlift Wing are expected to be in place at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, participating in Operation Deep Freeze, the military component of the U.S. Antarctic Program, managed by the National Science Foundation.

New York Air National Guard Lt. Col. Seth Barrows was part of the first aircrew to leave and will be the 139th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron deployed commander upon arrival. Barrows said as the deployed commander he must ensure planes, people and weather are all good to ensure a safe, successful mission.

"The weather is the biggest challenge so you watch that weather very closely, and from there you do your mission," said Lt. Col. Christian Sander, 109th Operations Group commander.

Throughout the season, which runs through February, a total of seven LC-130 ski-equipped aircraft and about 500 Airmen are expected to deploy, with 330 missions planned. About 120 Airmen will be deployed on the ice at any one time.

The unique capabilities of the ski-equipped LC-130 aircraft make it the only one of its kind in the U.S. military, able to land on snow and ice. The primary mission of the 109th AW is to provide airlift within Antarctica, flying to various remote locations from McMurdo Station. Crews will transport scientists, support, fuel, supplies, medical supplies and more throughout the season.

This year, the IcePod missions are expected to increase from the previous season. The IcePod is an externally mounted electronics pod that provides an integrated ice imaging system that measures in detail both the ice surface and the ice bed.

"This season is seeing the maturation of the Common Science Support Pod with 18 IcePod missions planned compared to three missions last season," said Lt. Col. Blair Herdrick, 139th Airlift Squadron's Antarctic Operations chief. "IcePod is a project by Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) at Columbia University in New York. The IcePod project utilizes the Common Science Support Pod to house a variety of instruments to measure changes in the Antarctic ice sheet."

The IcePod missions were flown for the first time in Antarctica last season, and were deemed one of the biggest successes of the year.

The 109th AW has been supporting the NSF's South Pole research since 1988. Since 1999, the unit has been the sole provider of this type of airlift to the NSF and U.S. Antarctic research efforts.

Air Force chief of staff visits with Hill Airmen



By Micah Garbarino, 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs / Published October 19, 2015

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah (AFNS) -- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III wrapped up a visit here by holding a town hall-style meeting where he opened up to the base's Airmen.

"I love you. I love who you are. I love what you do. I love how you stand up for each other," Welsh said. "Thanks for making me proud."

Welsh, speaking to a group of active-duty and civilian Airmen, acknowledged that the furloughs of two years ago and the budget uncertainty of today was a "breach of faith" with the civil service employees who make up a large part of Hill's workforce.

"I'm astonished that our government can't come up with a better solution. ... If you walk into a depot you're not going to get much done without our civilian Airmen. Civilians are part of the fabric of our mission," Welsh said. "I'm sorry for what's happened and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure it doesn't happen again."

Recognizing the pride, contributions and sacrifices of Airmen were themes Welsh stressed as he shared his priorities and addressed a wide range of topics.

Common sense

Any large organization must look at its processes to enable success. Welsh said common sense is the first standard to apply to policy, practices, guidance and even law. If something doesn't pass the common sense test, it must be changed.

If change is required, he said that commanders and supervisors need to listen to their Airmen's ideas.

Of the 17,000 suggestions the Air Force received during a recent cost-savings campaign, Welsh said 90 percent of them could have been dealt with at the unit level or lower, proof that all Airmen don't feel empowered to affect positive change.

"There are a lot of people out there who feel like their voices aren't heard, that their opinions don't matter,” he said. “It's our job to convince them that they're wrong about that," he said.

Communication

"We just don't communicate well enough across commands, components and services," Welsh said.

Those problems extend down to the unit level.

Airmen must feel like they can go to their chain of command to get the answers they need, he said. If they don't, they turn to blogs, social media and news outlets for their answers and often miss the facts.

The fact is that it is the job of commanders and supervisors to communicate with their Airmen and get them the answers they need with open, honest, accountable communication, Welsh said.

Care a little more

Welsh said he believes the solution to problems like sexual assaults and suicides lie within Airmen caring for each other.

"I know you care a lot, but I'm asking you to care a little more,” he said. “You all do this job for your families and for your teammates, other Airmen. But, there are people in the Air Force who don't feel valued. They don't feel included. That's unacceptable. That's not an Air Force I want to be a part of."

It is critical for Airmen to know each other and be able to determine if a fellow Airmen is struggling. Being busy or distracted cannot be an excuse for letting someone, who may be struggling through the most difficult time in their life, slip through the cracks, he said.

"The solution is not a 'big Air Force' solution. The solution is caring a little bit more -- taking the time to get to know your fellow Airmen," Welsh said. "Some of the stories are unbelievable. Some are uplifting. Some are sad. But, every Airman has a story."

And every Airman is important to the vital defense mission of the Air Force.

"It's our job to go out and fight and win our nation's wars,” he said. “It's really an ugly business, but somebody better be good at if you want to live in a land like this one. There is no second place. It's win or die. We have to get better every day"

After sharing his priorities Welsh took questions on a number of topics, including:

A-10

The future of the Hill-maintained A-10 Thunderbolt II has been a recent issue of contention between the Air Force and Congress but Welsh, a former A-10 pilot, said it's time to move on. By the end of the next budget cycle, the A-10 will be one of five Air Force airframes that are at least 50 years old.

"The A-10 will not be used in a high threat environment. Seventy percent of the A-10s we used during the first Gulf War suffered battle damage. It's a rugged airplane, but it's not hard to hit," Welsh said.

The Air Force doesn't need an aircraft that was a great close air support platform 50 years ago, Welsh said, it needs one for 50 years into the future.

"The capability gap between our Air Force and the air forces chasing us is closing and it's closing dramatically," Welsh said.

Looking to the future, Welsh said the F-35 Lightning II will be able to operate in a high-threat environment, locate and destroy enemy air defenses and secure the airspace for other CAS aircraft. The next CAS platform must be much cheaper to buy and operate than the A-10, must carry more rounds and have a more diverse weapons suite.

"Let's change the game on how we provide close air support,” Welsh said. “We can do it in 5 years. We just need the money. Holding on to old stuff is not going to make us better. We have to modernize."

ISIL

Combating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant from the air can be a frustrating business and the air war is only one prong in the strategy of the 65-nation coalition battling the Islamic State, Welsh said.

The Air Force is currently charged with eliminating ISIL leadership and preventing the enemy from moving troops and supplies -- a difficult task while avoiding civilian casualties and unnecessary destruction of infrastructure.

Because of the strict mission parameters, there are only 15-20 sorties per day on a "good day" and some of them return to base without having dropped a single bomb, since precision is a key part of the strategy, he said.

"I believe when this is over, it will go down as the most precise bombing campaign in history," Welsh added.

Manpower

With the recent announcement that the United States will delay a drawdown of service members deployed in Afghanistan, Welsh addressed Airmen's concerns about the effect this may have on highly-stressed career fields.

The Air Force has nearly completed a two and a half year review to transfer certain mission sets to the Guard and Reserve units to provide some deployment relief to active-duty units and capture cost savings, Welsh said. This has been successful in areas like airlift and refueling, but other mission sets are not as flexible and deployment requirements have not decreased.

In the short term, Welsh said Airmen will continue to deploy to Afghanistan at the same rate they are today. It will be a longer drain on forces and will not allow the Air Force to relieve the pressure currently on Airmen in highly tasked career fields.

"We've cut 40 percent of our Airmen since the first Gulf War," Welsh said. "We don't have flexibility anymore. ... And, there's not a magic fix coming any time soon."

Housing allowance

A recent proposal by Congress to change to the housing allowance rates for military-to-military marriages, along with Airmen who choose to room together, would strip the junior member in the relationship of a significant portion of their allowance.

While the proposal did not make it into this year's defense authorization, Welsh said that doesn't mean it won't return as an option in future budgets.

Welsh said he, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, and the joint services senior enlisted advisors are "dead-set against this," and will continue to fight. Every military member is entitled to all of their allowances as part of their individual compensation for their service, he said.

Performance reports

Welsh said that comprehensive assessment forms that will now accompany performance reports are not meant to divulge confidential information between a rater and an Airman, but rather promote transparency in the evaluation and promotion processes within the chain of command, doing away with the "good ol' boy" network.

"There should be no secrets about job performance. If you're an officer, NCO or civilian, you ought to know what your supervisor thinks," Welsh said. "You can't think you're No. 1 of 10, when you're really (No.) 10."

Prior to the implementation of the new system, a Rand Corporation study of the Air Force promotion system revealed that performance only affected worthiness for promotion by 1.3 percent. Whereas time in service and time in grade had a disproportionate effect.

"The most average technical sergeant in the Air Force" should not get promoted at the same time as the "most outstanding technical sergeant in the Air Force," Welsh said. "Every senior enlisted leader in our Air Force thinks this is a good idea."

Welsh acknowledged that this is a new system and that there is going to have to be some "tweaks along the way" with processes, forms and software. But they will be worked out, he said.