Military News

Monday, October 02, 2017

Air National Guard Restores Air Traffic Control in Puerto Rico



By Air Force Capt. Matt Murphy and Air Force Tech. Sgt. Dan Heaton, Puerto Rico Air National Guard

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, Oct. 2, 2017 — Air National Guard units from Puerto Rico, Illinois and Wisconsin teamed up to restore Federal Aviation Administration-managed air traffic control operations on Puerto Rico as part of response efforts in the wake of Hurricane Maria's devastation on the island.

Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on Sept. 20 and destroyed a key generator used by the FAA to power its control center that directs aircraft movement in and around the island. The FAA's San Juan Center is responsible for directing the movement not only civilian and military aircraft for takeoff and landing at the island's airports, but also any aircraft flying in the vicinity.

"Thanks to our relationship with the Puerto Rico Air National Guard, they were able to provide us with the assistance we needed to get back up and running, and now the Air National Guard is supporting us with redundancy as a backup now that power is restored to our building," said Edward Tirado, an operations manager with the FAA in Puerto Rico.

Air Traffic Control Curtailed

The loss of power and communications lines required that all aircraft traffic be controlled by visual and physical spacing. Only one aircraft could arrive or leave the island every 10 minutes, or six per hour, to ensure that the aircraft were safely separated. Under normal operating conditions, an airport the size of San Juan International can handle about 45 flights per hour. The limited aircraft movement choked the supply chain of critical material and personnel, officials said.

The Puerto Rico Air National Guard, while in a recovery state itself, saw the big picture and knew they needed to immediately support the FAA, Tirado said. The focus of the assistance, he said, was to help re-establish local and ground-to-air communications and to re-establish radar coverage of the air space above the island and surrounding area.

Air Force Lt. Col. Humberto Pabon, the vice wing commander of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard's 156th Airlift Wing, said he understood the gravity of the situation and the necessity to restore air operations capabilities, so he set teams in motion.

"Our communications flight immediately engaged with the FAA at the airport to begin that process," Pabon said. "We worked with various Guard resources to provide power and immediate data link access."

Restoring Air Traffic Control System

With basic communications re-established, the number of flights taking place per hour began to climb --  from six per hour to 18 per hour two days after the storm -- to more than 30 per hour, and finally into the upper 30s and low 40s, which is normal operations.

After the storm, the wing's 156th Communications Flight had immediately established a Joint Incident Site Communications Capability team, giving Air Guard commanders local communications to get their own air operations back online.

Another Air National Guard JISCC unit, the 126th Communications Flight from Illinois, is powering the 156th's command post and airfield management office and restoring ramp operations at Muniz Air National Guard Base near here.

The Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Communications Flight set up a separate JISCC at the FAA's San Juan communications center. This allowed San Juan Center to resume having direct communications with inbound and outbound aircraft.

The commanders and team members from all three JISCCs pooled resources and knowledge to work with the FAA and get the air traffic control system back up and running.

"We had to come up with multiple solutions to every challenge," said Air Force Capt. Jeff Rutkowski, commander of the Wisconsin Air National Guard's JISCC. "We'd try something and the first solution wouldn't work. We'd get something started and realize that a better idea came along, and we'd switch to that.

"We were dealing with a scenario where so many things were damaged. We really had to get creative," Rutkowski added.

"This support between the guard and the FAA is unprecedented," said Air Force 2nd Lt. Jose Arroyo-Cruz, a 156th cyberspace operations officer and one of hundreds of Puerto Rico Air National Guard members who've been on the job since before the storm hit.
"We had a 'hole in the sky' over Puerto Rico," Arroyo-Cruz said. "It was a giant hole in the highway in the sky. We had to fix that hole before we could bring in aid to the people of Puerto Rico."

Hyten: U.S. Strategic Command is Reorganizing for 21st Century Warfighting



By Cheryl Pellerin DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 2, 2017 — The commander of U.S. Strategic Command is reorganizing to improve its warfighting structure.

Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten told the Air Force Association's Air, Space and Cyber Conference recently that he recognized there was an organizational mismatch on Nov. 3, the day he took command.

He signed out the implementation order in June, and the new air component went live yesterday.

"Even though we're listed as a functional combatant command in the Unified Command Plan," Hyten told the audience, "Stratcom is the ultimate warfighting command. It is our nation's ultimate power. And it is a warfighting command from beginning to end."

One Team

The first time he sat down in the Dougherty Conference Center at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, to meet with his commanders, Hyten said, he saw that the two- and three-star commanders had a speaking role, but not the four-star commanders at the table.

That, Hyten said, was because the four-stars were not operational components to Stratcom. Instead, the two- and three-stars were commanders of operational Stratcom components, and they all also worked for the four-stars.

"So I just asked myself, why aren’t they [the four stars] the components, and I’ll just ask them and they can reach out to the guys that already work for them and fix the problem?'" Hyten said he thought at the time. " … How come we aren't organized as a warfighting command?"

Hyten said the only integration happening at Stratcom at the time was in his office.
Secretary of defense meets with commander of U.S. Strategic Command.

"Our mission is to provide tailored nuclear, space, cyber, global strike, electronic warfare, missile defense and intelligence capabilities. That's what the UCP tells us to do, and we do that. But today we do every one of those in its own stovepipe. Even nuclear and global strike, in many cases, are stovepiped off each other," the general said. "So the vision of my command is one team, one warfighting team, innovative and joint, providing the integrated multidomain combat capabilities that we need as a nation."

Warfighting Structure

On June 16, Hyten signed an implementation plan to restructure Stratcom's component commands, Air Force Maj. Brian L. Maguire, Stratcom's chief of media operations, said this week. The restructure plan identified four operational components, he said:

-- A Joint Force Air Component Commander, or JFACC;

-- A Joint Force Space Component Commander, or JFSCC;

-- A Joint Force Maritime Component Commander, or JFMCC; and

-- A Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense, or JFCC IMD.

Maguire said the plan identifies Air Force Global Strike Command's commander as the JFACC, Air Force Space Command's commander as the JFSCC, and the commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command as the JFMCC.

Maguire also said JFCC IMD, one of the legacy structures from the previous organization of Stratcom, will remain until the conclusion of the Ballistic Missile Defense Review. Upon conclusion of the review, JFCC IMD will be restructured if and as directed.  U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command commander will retain command JFCC IMD.

Standup of the JFACC, JFSCC and JFMCC, and their assumption of the Nuclear Task Force/Joint Functional Component Command roles and responsibilities is a phased process, Maguire said, to make sure Stratcom has identified and can work through issues while maintaining command and control of the nation's strategic forces.

Initial Operating Capability

As the JFACC reached initial operating capability Sept. 30, Maguire said, Gen. Robin Rand, as AFGSC commander, will be responsible to Hyten for recommending proper use of assigned and joint attached air forces, and will make those forces available for tasking. He will also plan and coordinate air operations, Maguire said.

Forces available to Rand previously fell under Task Force 204, strategic bomber and reconnaissance aircraft; Task Force 214, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles; and Task Force 294, aerial refueling tankers, Maguire added.

No initial operating capability dates are available yet for the JFSCC or JFMCC, he said, but space forces available to the JFSCC are those that now belong to the Joint Functional Component Command for Space.

Larger Effort

Maguire said Stratcom did not require congressional approval to conduct the restructure, but has kept Congress informed as the restructure has been approved and implemented.

"As General Hyten previously said," the major noted, "this restructure is part of a larger effort to make sure everybody who works in U.S. Stratcom understands it's a warfighting command with a normal structure familiar to all military personnel." With the establishment of the JFACC and the future establishment of JFSCC and JFMCC, the command will have a warfighting construct, he added.

"That is the way we organize for warfighting," Hyten said at the Air, Space and Cyber Conference, "and if you're in a warfighting command, that's how you should be organized, and that's the way we're going to go."

Marine Platform Simplifies Ammunition Management



By Kaitlin Kelly
Marine Corps Systems Command

U.S. Marine Pfc. Olivia Rutherford counts out ammunition during Mountain Training Exercise 4-17 at Mountain Warfare Training Center. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Timothy Shoemaker

But this summer, a team at Marine Corps Systems Command launched an upgrade to its ground ammunition inventory system, allowing for greater collection, storage and interchange of data. The enhancements to the Ordnance Information System – Marine Corps, or OIS-MC, also ensure audit readiness to meet federal standards.

The ammunition program team at MCSC maintains accurate inventory of all Marine Corps ammunition, and ensures Marines are always ready for the fight with the right ammo at the right time.

“This platform provides seamless integration of data between all of the military branches,” said Scott Rideout, program manager for ammunition at MCSC. “We are using more complex accounting principles, and this real-time processing of data helps reduce errors and accurately evaluate our inventory.”

This month, the team is using the platform to report a mandated audit to the federal government and work to achieve Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness (also known as FIAR). FIAR helps federal organizations compile successful financial statement audits by using the methods of financial statement auditors. Following the FIAR method maximizes the potential for accuracy to meet government standards by defining key tasks, underlying detailed activities and resulting work products that all reporting entities should follow to become audit ready.

“The DoD standard for reporting ammunition is you have to be 95 percent accurate,” said Dennis Zarnesky, director of Inventory Control Point. “It’s extremely important that our reporting is thorough because the more accurate we are, the more efficient our process is and the better business decisions we make. That’s what audit readiness is all about.”

ICP, which falls under the ammunition program within MCSC’s Logistics Combat Element Systems, consists of Inventory Management and Systems; and Plans, Analysis, and Evaluation. Both branches work together to record everything in the Corps’ inventory, including items that are consumed, shot or disposed, such as small arms, mortars, artillery, rockets and missiles. Thanks to OIS-MC technology, recording inventory is easier, which helps ICP better serve Marines.

“We are a small group of civilians, Marines and retired military, including retired ammunition Marines, who take this job seriously and have an incredible sense of commitment and ownership,” said Zarnesky. “We know what it’s like out there in the field because we used to have that same job. Ultimately, we don’t want to let down the Marine who needs that ammunition.”

With a continued focus to increase combat readiness and free up scarce resources for critical training and operations, ICP uses OIS-MC to track the proper issue, accountability, upkeep and disposal of ammo on a daily basis. Instead of sifting through thousands of transactions and records each quarter, the platform provides everything down to the lot and serial number. If there’s an error at one of the 160 locations that track and disseminate ammo, the system can reveal that, Zarnesky said.

Efficiency and accuracy are the keys to reach audit readiness, and OIS-MC is a key piece improving ammunition auditability, Rideout said.

In the future, analytics and intelligence features will be added, and the team will continue to improve the OIS-MC with new upgrades.

“The goal is for everyone in the Marine Corps who has rights, from the Commandant and below, to be able to press a button and instantly get the information they need in future updates of the OIS-MC,” said Zarnesky. “We strive to get 100 percent accuracy rates with these future improvements to the system, and I’m confident we can do it.”