Friday, October 23, 2015

KC-46 test aircraft touches down at Edwards

By Kenji Thuloweit, 412th Test Wing Public Affairs / Published October 22, 2015

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AFNS) -- The KC-46 program's first test aircraft, a Boeing 767-2C (EMD-1), departed from its home at Boeing Field in Seattle and touched down here for the first time for testing Oct. 15.

The plan is to have EMD-1 at Edwards Air Force Base for about two weeks, as Boeing and the 418th Flight Test Squadron conduct ground effects and fuel onload fatigue testing on the new tanker.

Ground effects testing will gather aerodynamic data for updating the KC-46A Pegasus simulator as well as supporting certification. Fuel onload fatigue tests will gather data to characterize the aircraft interaction typically experienced when the KC-46A is flying in receiver formation behind a current KC-135 Stratotanker or KC-10 Extender.

While the KC-46's role is to refuel other aircraft, it too may need to be refueled from other KC-10s or KC-135s to extend its range. Fuel onload fatigue testing is the first look at the KC-46 acting in that role and the interactions between the three different tankers in an aerial refueling formation.

As throughout history, Edwards AFB continues to be the premier base for flight testing the Air Force's newest capability.

"For ground effects, Edwards Air Force Base provides calm morning weather and long runways, including the lakebeds, both are requirements to take the data," said Capt. Dylan Neidorff, a KC-46 test operations engineer. "For fuel onload fatigue, Edwards has a top notch special instrumentation section who provides modifications to legacy tanker aircraft to support data collection on the 767-2C."

Neidorff said Boeing and Air Force pilots have been operating as combined crews through all of the testing at Edwards including the ferry flight from Seattle.

"This also includes flight test engineers who have been on each fuel onload fatigue flight,” he said.

Several units from both on and off base are supporting the testing. The 412th Test Engineering Group is providing special instrumentation support; the 416th Flight Test Squadron is providing chase aircraft support; and the 370th FTS is providing KC-135 tanker crew support. The 92nd Air Refueling Wing based at Fairchild AFB, Washington, is also providing the KC-135 and maintenance support, and the 60th Air Mobility Wing based at Travis AFB, California, is providing the KC-10 and maintenance personnel.

According to Neidorff, the KC-46A will return to Edwards AFB to accomplish testing in the Benefield Anechoic Chamber as well as conduct aerial refueling certifications.

The KC-46A is intended to replace the Air Force's aging tanker fleet, which has been refueling aircraft for more than 50 years. With more refueling capacity and enhanced capabilities, improved efficiency and increased capabilities for cargo and aeromedical evacuation, the KC-46A will provide aerial refueling support to the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps as well as allied nation coalition force aircraft.

The 412th Test Wing at Edwards AFB is the lead developmental test organization for the KC-46 program.

NYANG firefighters conduct joint search and rescue training

by Tech. Sgt. Catharine Schmidt
109th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

10/22/2015 - STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. -- Firefighters from the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing, 106th Rescue Wing, and 105th AW, from Scotia, Long Island, and Newburgh respectively, met up at Camp Smith, New York, Oct. 20, to complete three days of joint search and rescue training.

The Airmen trained on high-angle rescues and breaching and breaking, as well as improving their interoperability in the event they are called to respond to a real-world disaster.

"This exercise was a proof of concept for our USAR mission set," said Lt. Col. Robert Donaldson, 109th Civil Engineer Squadron commander. "The collaboration efforts among the 109th, 106th and 105th AW USAR teams helped streamline our existing convoy capabilities and also helped refine our high angle rescue tactics, techniques and procedures.  The USAR members were able to share their valuable skill-sets with each other, and worked together as an integrated team, which made this training opportunity reach far beyond ordinary expectations."

High angle rescues are those in a very steep environment in which a person is primarily supported by a rope system, explained Master Sgt. Brian Kissinger, 109th Fire Department assistant chief of operations. "Breaching and breaking is like if a building were to collapse, we would cut through the concrete using different methods," he said. Along with the rescue training, three Airmen from the 109th Vehicle Maintenance Flight who convoyed down with the firefighters, trained the 106th on skid steer operation. The skid steers are part of the debris clearance package the 109th AW obtained earlier in the year.

"A lot of my guys haven't had training on the debris clearance kits that all the units have," said Senior Master Sgt. James Nizza, 106th Fire Department chief. "[The 109th] brought their [skid steer] and now we're getting all of my guys certified on it."

Camp Smith proved to be the ideal location for the units to come together as it is the central location between Scotia and Long Island, and also had the environment the teams needed to complete the training they wouldn't be able to get at home station, including the cliff they used for the high angle training.

"We don't get the ability to do this type of training at home, and [because of that] the skills are diminishing; if we don't continue to practice it, we're going to lose the skill-set," Nizza said. He said this joint exercise gave them the opportunity to continue their training to keep the domestic operations mission going, "and it also builds the partnership with the other state units."

The Airmen agreed the importance of this type of training in keeping the Air National Guard the first choice for homeland operations. In a real-world situation, the search and rescue assets throughout the state would be activated. "Our goal is to be out the door in four hours," Kissinger said.

"This is huge training," Kissinger said. "We are now training together and learning how each unit works. This is our first joint training exercise."

"A special thanks goes out to the Camp Smith leadership for allowing us the opportunity to use their facilities and to the multi-talented Airmen who made this event a huge success," Donaldson said. "I have no doubt that the support and training we received here will pay dividends when our USAR teams are called upon for their life-saving skill-sets during real-world events.  We're actively planning additional collaborative training opportunities in the very near future."

The 109th Fire Department's urban search and rescue team, the lead USAR within the New York Air National Guard, is currently the only self-sufficient fully capable mobile unit in the Air National Guard. "As we stand now, we are mobile-ready to go anywhere, anytime," said Kissinger.

Hardrock comes home

by Airman 1st Class Connor J. Marth
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/22/2015 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- More than 100 members of the 726th Air Control Squadron returned Oct. 18 from a deployment to Southwest Asia supporting multiple operations in the area.

Since April, the 726th ACS, also known as Hardrock, provided support using various forms of communication and detection equipment across the areas they were deployed.

"Our mission is to control the airspace wherever we are sent," said Maj. Rene Prieto, 726 ACS director of communication and operations. "We keep the skies clear and the ground informed."

Their efforts supported troops and aircraft throughout the 876,000-square-mile region. They established more than 150 communication systems and earned 100 percent completion on every mission assigned during their six-month deployment.

"It's amazing what we ask of them and what they give back to us day-in and day-out," said Prieto. "Of the one percent who raised their hand in America to join the military, I think these guys are some of the best."

The 726th is a tenant unit here and assigned to the 552nd Air Control Wing located at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

Their Air Force family is ready to have them back, but the joy of their own families is an entirely different story.

"The kids are really excited; there is just a lot of stress leading up to this moment," laughed Wendy Strength, spouse of Senior Airman Jesse Strength, 726th ACS weapons director. "But, when he finally comes back, I'll be extremely happy. And then I'll probably cry later."

Some have missed important moments while defending their country. Jesse missed his daughter's first steps and deployers like Tech. Sgt. Raymond Parker even missed the birth of their children.

"Some of our returning airmen are seeing their children for the first time today," said Prieto. "There is a lot of change happening and I want them all to know we are here to help with whatever comes their way."

The Hardrocks made an impact overseas and after six months of communication and intelligence missions, they're finally home with their families again.

"We are all a family," said Prieto. "Having our Hardrockers come back makes us whole again and we can work at full force."

'Unprecedented' Challenge in Countering Adversarial Propaganda, Official Says

By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, October 23, 2015 — The United States is facing an unprecedented challenge in countering the propaganda of adversaries who recruit and easily spread misinformation through the Internet, a top defense official told a House panel yesterday.

While there are many benefits to being in a cyber-connected world, there is also a "dark side" that adversaries are taking advantage of, according to Michael D. Lumpkin, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict.

"The scope of our current challenge in the informational space is unprecedented," Lumpkin told the House Armed Services Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee.

Joining Lumpkin at the hearing were Army Maj. Gen. Christopher K. Haas, director of the force management and development directorate for U.S. Special Operations Command, and Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles Moore, deputy director for global operations on the Joint Staff.

Immediacy, Wide Reach of Social Media

The military has a critical role to play in countering adversarial messages, Lumpkin said, noting it is a contributor of unique capabilities and a partner to the whole-of-government effort led by the State Department.

The U.S. Special Operations Command's Military Information Support Operations, or MISO, force provides a critical capability in supporting the needs of the military and the overall strategic messaging effort of the State Department, Lumpkin said.

"The rise of [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] and the ability for other state and non-state actors to conduct recruitment operations and spread propaganda almost certainly and with minimal cost highlights the dark side, one that requires the whole-of-government response," he said.

Unlike television or radio broadcasts, social media and other Internet communications allow for interactive discussions "anytime and in almost any location with virtually unlimited reach," Lumpkin said.

"Social media and other communications technologies have enabled the virtual and, in some cases, actual mobilization of dispersed and demographically varied audiences around the world," Lumpkin said.

The communications allow non-state actors to "reach across the globe with multiple, simultaneously targeted and tailored approaches to motivate or manipulate a spectrum of audiences," he said.

Limitless Reach

Preparing the MISO forces for current and future conflict is an important role for the U.S. Special Operations Command, Haas said.

Citing what he described as the "extensive propaganda efforts employed by both ISIL and Russia," Haas said the role of the U.S. Special Operations Command in manning, training and equipping is especially critical.

While significant improvements have been made over the last decade, challenges remain, he said.

To address capability gaps, U.S. Special Operations Command is developing a plan to expand MISO training into social media use, online advertising, web design and other areas, he explained.

Global Military Information Efforts

MISO forces are currently deployed to 21 U.S. embassies, working with country teams and interagency partners to challenge adversary information and support broader U.S. government goals, Moore said.

The military information forces use existing web and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to support military objectives by shaping perceptions while highlighting ISIL atrocities, coalition responses to ISIL activities, and coalition successes, he said.

MISO personnel have the training and cultural understanding to assess enemy propaganda activities and propose unique solutions that support U.S. military objectives, he said.

Moore said MISO efforts in the Central Command area of responsibility are focused on challenging violent extremists. In the European Command's area of responsibility, he said, the efforts of military information forces include "exposing Russian mistruths and their concerted efforts to mislead European audiences as to their true intentions."

Also at the hearing was Matthew Armstrong of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the independent federal entity that oversees government broadcasting including the Voice of America.
Moore said European Command is looking to expand its engagement with the Broadcasting Board of Governors to further improve information dissemination capabilities.

Face of Defense: Marine Excels as Air Traffic Controller

By Marine Corps Cpl. Joshua Brown 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

ABOARD THE USS KEARSARGE, Atlantic Ocean, October 23, 2015 — The Marine Corps League presents the Sgt. Maj. Frederick B. Douglass award annually to a Marine who demonstrates superior qualities and actions during the performance of his or her duties in the aviation community. An individual needs to receive recommendation from his leadership and approval from a commanding officer for eligibility.

Sgt. Jan Kamphuis, an air traffic controller assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is the most recent recipient of the prestigious award.

Kamphuis, a Warrenton, Virginia, native, said his Marine Corps career began shortly after he graduated from Roanoke University with a bachelor’s degree in history and felt called to serve.

“I’ve always felt it’s the duty and responsibility of Americans to give back and do their part to keep this country safe,” said Kamphuis. “If we want to keep this country great, we have to give back and do our part.”

Starting a Challenging Career

He said his family reacted positively to his decision, even though he is the only member of his immediate family to serve in the armed forces. The most recent was his grandfather, who served in the Dutch military.

Kamphuis enlisted as an air traffic controller -- an occupation that includes a range of responsibilities involving the deployment, recovery and tracking of aircraft in various locations.

“He’s a local controller,” said Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Timothy J. Layton, a fellow 26th MEU air traffic controller and a Spring Hill, Florida, native. “He is qualified to communicate with aircraft in the local area and get them to the ground.”

Kamphuis said he primarily performs his duties in an expeditionary capacity, building landing zones and refueling points for aircraft prior to their disembarkation from a ship, and establishing communications to direct and control the flow of air traffic to and from those locations.

“It’s a pretty good job,” said Kamphuis. “It can get difficult at times, but it’s rewarding.”

Focused, Confident Teacher

Kamphuis’ leaders have noted his ability to execute well during stressful times.

“He’s always professional and knows how to stay focused on the situation,” Layton said. “He’s always confident when communicating with the pilots, and that isn’t always easy when you’re trying to ensure two aircraft don’t trade paint in the air.”

Kamphuis said ATCs have "to stay mentally alert and aware at all times. When things get difficult, you have to stay calm and control the situation as efficiently as possible.”

Layton said one big factor in Kamphuis' nomination and eventual selection for the award was how he took the lead in training the sailors on the ship. “When we disembark from a ship, we all work together as an integrated team to set up an airfield," he said. "And Kamphuis has taken huge steps in preparing them to work with us and perform while we're forward-positioned."

Kamphuis has also taught and assisted others with various air traffic control certifications. During the weapons and tactics instructors’ course -- a large-scale training event conducted in Yuma, Arizona -- he acted as a Marine Corps Air Traffic Control Team augmentee.

Seeking Leadership Opportunities

He said his professional successes have influenced his plans for the future -- he wants to continue his career in the Marine Corps and seek out more responsibilities.

“I’ve applied for re-enlistment and would like to apply for the enlisted commissioning program if I’m approved,” said Kamphuis. “I already have a college degree, so the commissioning process would be simplified, and I could continue to develop my skills and lead Marines.”

Those goals seem to align with the career trajectory his leaders and peers predict he’ll achieve.

“He’s never set a goal that he hasn’t accomplished,” Layton said. “He’s well-educated, capable and one of the best Marines I’ve worked with.”

Kamphuis said he still has his mind set on his current mission while deployed with the 26th MEU. “I want to do the best I can in my job, and I want to be the best Marine I can every single day,” he said.