Military News

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Unifying the WSEP, CF 16-1 training efforts

by Senior Airman Sergio A. Gamboa
325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


12/22/2015 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.  -- When several military organizations come together to accomplish a common goal, it not only validates their commitment to the mission, but it strengthens the morale of its members.

Nowhere was this more evident than in this year's combined Checkered Flag 16-1 and Combat Archer exercise.

The 83rd Fighter Weapon Squadron came together with the 325th Fighter Wing for the second time to host the Air Combat Command's Checkered Flag 16-1 exercise. Checkered Flag is a large-force exercise that gives several legacy and fifth-generation aircraft the chance to practice combat training together in simulated employment from a deployed environment.

Every year the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group's 83rd FWS hosts 12 Weapon System Evaluation Program's, known as Combat Archer, a platform that evaluates the air-to-air weapon system capability of combat aircraft.

"The data gathered from the Combat Archer evaluation is used to make strategic decisions on air-to-air weapons by senior U.S. Air Force leaders and combatant commanders," said Col. Scott Ward, 53rd WEG commander. "Part of the [53rd] WEG's mission is to evaluate air-to-air weapons, so these evaluations are vital to accomplishing that mission."

The 325th FW and 83rd FWS hosted Checkered Flag units, and together they provided all of the required support for the visiting squadrons, including office, maintenance, equipment, airspace, scenario development and weapons support accommodations, said Ward.

Integrating both these exercises has provided supporting units with increased resources and saved the Air Force money.

"When you take a look at the amount of assets we're bringing in for the WSEP it makes sense to integrate more assets together and garner some costs savings," said Col. Joseph Kunkel, 325th FW vice commander.

Once Checkered Flag is finished, the lessons learned will be highlighted to Air Combat Command staff.

"From what I've seen, it went very well," Ward said. "The various units got the opportunity to train together in an exercise that's larger than the unit-level training they would usually get at home-station."

"Training like this is the foundation for everything the Air Force does, and it is vital to every mission," Kunkel said. "The Air Force is always looking for ways to save taxpayer dollars and with combining Checkered Flag and the WSEP they did just that. Not only is this going to improve our force, but it is also going to make our Airmen better."

Face of Defense: Air Force Becomes a Family Affair



By Air Force Airman 1st Class Larissa Greatwood 86th Airlift Wing

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany, December 23, 2015 — For one family, the Air Force was not only the answer to their immediate financial needs, but also the start of a multi-generational journey.

Steve Nutt and his wife, Brittany Nutt, decided they were ready for a change.

"I was working multiple jobs, only getting a couple hours of sleep a night,” Steve said. “My wife was teaching, working in a pharmacy and trying to get into physician assistant school. One tax season, we got a tax bill for about $1,200, and we didn't have anything. We ended up paying it, but we were eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a few months straight."

For the Nutt family, working hard with little payoff was not the way to live. With advice from her uncle, who was an Air Force senior master sergeant at the time, the then 23-year-old Brittany knew the Air Force was the new obstacle for which she had been searching.

A Career Change, Then Another

"I wanted a change and a new challenge in my life,” Brittany said. "The Air Force offered benefits, a new career field and so many educational aids."

The couple both enlisted in the Air Force, with Steve graduating from basic military training the week Brittany began hers in San Antonio, Texas .

"My [technical] school was in San Antonio, so I would meet her at church on Sundays,” he said. "I would check up on her and tell her what she was going to be doing during training each week.”

Steve went on to become a services specialist, while Brittany became a flight medicine technician.

Two years into her first four-year enlistment, Brittany discovered she could earn a commission to become a nurse practitioner.

With a chance to further her career, many things had to be taken into consideration to ensure their home life was stable. Brittany said they mutually decided the best decision for their family was for Steve to leave the Air Force, while she went into the Airman Education and Commissioning Program for nursing.

Despite moving several times due to his wife’s career, Steve said he benefited from his experience as a services specialist by finding a variety of civilian jobs in fields as diverse as mortuary affairs and accounting. He is now retired after working as a deputy sheriff for the Solano County Sheriff’s Office in Fairfield, California.

Air Force Offered Opportunities

“I loved being in the Air Force and tried to excel in every aspect,” he said. “The Air Force and being in the services career field allowed more flexibility for me in the workforce [in the civilian sector]. Moving around, there have always been services jobs available, but the best job I ever had was being a deputy sheriff. I was able to get that job because I had military experience.”

The Nutts agreed the Air Force enabled them to progress in their careers -- in and out of the military.

"I knew I wanted to do something with nursing, so I kept pursuing my dreams,” Brittany said. “My husband mentioned the physician assistant program. It allowed me to become a nurse practitioner, which is what I wanted to do."

Today, Brittany is a major with 19 years of service, two bachelor’s degrees, a master’s degree and a doctorate. She’s assigned 86th Medical Squadron as a women’s health nurse practitioner.

Beginning a Tradition of Service

The Nutts’ decisions shaped their family in unexpected ways, they said, as Kiersten, their eldest child, has now joined the Air Force. And Brittany administered the oath of enlistment to Kiersten before she left for training.

"My parents and I had done a lot of talking about my future,” Kiersten said. "Enlisting in the military is a good way to dip my toes into the pool of adulthood. Aside from that, it's a very stable career path and no matter what field I go into, I know I’ll be well-trained.”

Kiersten said one benefit to growing up in a military family was learning adaptability to new environments due to moving every two to three years. She attended nine different schools in 12 years and says she learned to develop friendships wherever she went.

Airmen are not always guaranteed their first career choice upon enlistment. Kiersten said she wanted to work toward a broadcast career with American Forces Network, but instead will be working with radio frequency transmission systems. This hasn’t dampened her enthusiasm for the Air Force, however. “I’m the type of person who sees the glass as 100 percent full,” she said.

SMC assists with L.A. veterans' stand down

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


12/23/2015 - LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE - EL SEGUNDO, Calif.  -- For three days in December, just before the holidays, the pace of events in downtown Los Angeles were anything but relaxed for a dedicated group of Space and Missile Systems Center personnel intent on helping former brothers- and sisters-in-arms in need.

In what was billed as the largest "stand down" for homeless military veterans and their families to ever take place in the country, more than 65 volunteers from SMC joined service providers from federal, state, city and county governments as well as local nonprofit partners from across Los Angeles County and the South Bay Dec. 19-21 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The three-day event saw dozens of service providers from the public and private sectors assist vets with everything from housing and employment assistance to a variety of VA services to dental and other medical and wellness services. SMC personnel provided over 400 volunteer hours during the stand down. The active duty, civilians and contractors came from Los Angeles Air Force Base to help set up the event, hand out food and clothing and participate in the opening ceremony.

"There's something special about helping your own. Although I can't relate with their struggles, we do share one thing in common....we all raised our right hand and vowed to support and defend the Constitution. 'Homeless' and 'Veterans' shouldn't be in the same sentence," said Maj. Dex Landreth, Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Mission Integration chief with SMC's Launch Systems Enterprise Directorate. "It pulls at the heart strings when you see the numbers of over 5,000 homeless veterans in the Los Angeles area. I'm extremely proud to help out with the Los Angeles Veterans Stand Down."

According to the U.S. Vets website regarding the second annual L.A. Vets Stand Down, Los Angeles has the largest population of homeless military veterans in the nation living on the streets. Homeless vets account for nearly 20 percent of the people living on the streets and in shelters in Los Angeles. For a low-income veteran and family, attaining and maintaining affordable, stable housing is no easy achievement in the City of Angels. The overall cost of living in L.A. is 36 percent above the national average, with housing costs among the top 10 most expensive in the nation.

"No man or women who have served our country, particularly in combat, should be sleeping on the streets of Los Angeles," said Landreth, who in 2009, was selected to attend a nine-month civic leadership fellowship called Leadership L.A.

"The fellowship was geared towards individuals with a strong commitment for civic leadership and engagement within the city of Los Angeles. At the end of the of the nine-month fellowship, the expectation is to either sit on a non-profit/philanthropic board, become an appointed or elected official, and ultimately shape policies that influence the quality of life for all Californians," Landreth explained.

"It was during the fellowship that brought me to the attention of United States Veterans Initiatives, or U.S. Vets, a private non-profit organization that provides housing, employment, and counseling to our nation's veterans. With 21 residential sites and nine service centers in 14 cities across six states, it's the nation's largest nonprofit provider of comprehensive services to homeless and at-risk veterans.

"It started with a simple email to Stephen Peck, CEO of U.S. Vets and son of Academy award-winning actor Gregory Peck. He immediately responded to my desire to contribute to the organization and brought me to the Inglewood facility and introduced me to Ivan Mason, the executive director of U.S. Vets Inglewood. From that time on, I was elected to their Advisory Board and have participated in numerous volunteer events and solicited volunteers from SMC to support the fight against homeless veterans."

According to Landreth, President Obama and the Department of Veteran Affairs set a national goal of ending veteran homelessness. In July, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, a U.S. Navy Reserve officer, signed on to the President's Challenge and committed to ending veteran homelessness.

"As the second largest U.S. city, Los Angeles is a leader in solving community issues and with Mayor Garcetti and the City Council's backing, the stand down will be an invaluable tool in reaching this important goal," said Landreth.

For more information on how to meet the President's Challenge of ending homelessness among veterans, visit the U.S. Vets website at www.usvetsinc.org or contact Maj. Landreth at (310) 653-3022 or via e-mail at dex.landreth@us.af.mil.

AFRL develops integrated weapons analysis capability to meet warfighter needs

by Jeanne Dailey
Air Force Research Laboratory


12/23/2015 - KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- The Air Force Research Laboratory commander, Maj. Gen. Thomas Masiello, wants an integrated analysis capability and common framework that allows understanding the effectiveness of directed energy and kinetic weapons, whether used separately, cooperatively or synergistically.

To meet this need, AFRL created the Integrated Weapons Environment for Analysis, or IWEA, which brings together, for the first time, analysis tools that are used to evaluate the effectiveness and military utility of potential weapons technologies into a common analysis environment.  Before IWEA, the military utility attributed to a particular weapon technology was assessed individually with varying degrees of fidelity.

"Bringing the tools together in a common analysis environment increases the overall fidelity and allows analysts to consider the synergistic benefit of combining different technologies like kinetic and directed energy weapons," Masiello said.  "IWEA provides a comprehensive weapons strategy to better meet warfighter needs."

The IWEA project began in 2012 as a multi-directorate project under the AFRL Commander's Research and Development Fund with researchers from the Aerospace Systems, Directed Energy, Human Effectiveness, Munitions, and Sensors Directorates supporting development.  AFRL's chief technologist Dr. Morley Stone highlighted IWEA as a "shining example of AFRL cross-directorate collaboration."

Masiello designated the Directed Energy Directorate as the lead directorate with Linda Lamberson as program manager responsible for leading integration of the directed energy analysis tools into the IWEA environment.

Capt. Melanie Walton, the deputy program manager from the Munitions Directorate, was responsible for leveraging and enhancing existing kinetic weapon analysis tools and for providing the Endgame Framework software that was used to integrate all of the lethality tools together.  IWEA is also now using the Analytical Framework for Simulation, Integration, and Modeling for all mission level simulation requirements.

Leveraging from research in autonomy, the Aerospace Systems team provided novel aircraft/weapons employment optimization tools to rapidly and efficiently explore the best combination of weapons and weapons load-outs for specific mission areas.  Human Effectiveness provided tools to evaluate collateral personnel hazards from directed energy employment.  Sensors provided the interface to their high fidelity sensing data analysis toolset.

"AFRL envisions many uses for the IWEA environment," Lamberson said. "AFRL technologists can use IWEA to identify specific design requirements that will support research and inform technology investment decisions, ultimately resulting in capabilities that better meet our warfighter needs.  Also, analysts from AFRL or other Air Force and Department of Defense agencies can use IWEA to generate weapon effectiveness data for use in military utility studies designed to evaluate alternatives to meet specific mission needs."

Modeling and simulation is a critical component of AFRL's support to Air Force development planning, Masiello said.

"AFRL is leading the way for the Air Force in new modeling and simulation paradigms which includes IWEA.  The integration of IWEA with our AFSIM modeling program will be a powerful combination of AFRL M&S tools directly supporting development of national defense capabilities."