USAF Awards Combat Medals
Gen. T. Michael Moseley on June 12 presented the first six Air Force Combat Action Medals at a ceremony at the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Va.
The Chief of Staff noted that the number of airmen engaging an enemy directly has sharply increased since 2001, and the award will serve as a “visible reminder” that combat is a “fundamental part” of being an airman.
The six first recipients were chosen to reflect the varied ways in which USAF is engaged in combat. They were: Maj. Steven A. Raspet, an A-10 pilot; Capt. Allison K. Black, an AC-130H navigator; SMSgt. Ramon Colon-Lopez, a pararescueman; MSgt. Charlie Peterson, a vehicle operator; MSgt. Byron P. Allen, a MH-53 Pave Low gunner; and SSgt. Daniel L. Paxton, an aeromedical evacuation technician.
Mitchell Family at Ceremony
The new award was created to recognize USAF personnel who engaged in air or ground combat off base in a combat zone, or who came under direct hostile fire. It is an Air Force counterpart to the Army’s Combat Infantryman Badge.
The award was patterned after the insignia on Gen. Billy Mitchell’s World War I airplane.
Members of Mitchell’s family were present for the awards ceremony, as was the medal’s designer, Susan Gamble.
Virginia ANG Moves to F-22
The Virginia Air National Guard’s 192nd Fighter Wing flew its last F-16 mission on June 20, beginning an era when the unit will fly the new F-22 Raptor as an associate unit of the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, Va.
The wing had flown the F-16 since 1991 and is now the first ANG unit to fly the F-22. More than 20 pilots of the 192nd have qualified to fly the Raptor, and technicians from the unit have been working on the stealth fighter for months, alongside their active duty counterparts.
At Langley, the 192nd FW will associate with the Raptor mission, the 480th Intelligence Wing’s Distributed Ground Station imagery analysis mission, and the Combat Air Force Logistic Support Center. The effort is part of the Air Force’s Total Force Integration initiative, which is designed to bring together active duty and reserve component capabilities and personnel.
Troop Cut Limit: 40,000
The Air Force won’t reduce its ranks by more than the already planned 40,000 full-time equivalent positions, and it may cut fewer as a result of the unexpected expansion of the Army and Marine Corps, according to USAF Secretary Michael W. Wynne.
In a June 15 “Letter to Airmen,” Wynne wrote, “There are no plans to extend our restructuring beyond the current 40,000 reduction.” However, he added that the reduction is subject to change as the Air Force has a chance to consider the effect that more ground forces will have on USAF requirements.
“Land component growth may require our Total Force drawdown to level off, while the size of specific elements within our Air Force might actually need to grow as well,” Wynne wrote.
Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley said the Air Force could be called on to provide as many as 1,000 additional battlefield airmen to match increases in the land forces.
Wynne added that the Air Force will continue force shaping efforts that move the right number of personnel to critical career fields.
“America’s AOC” Opens at Tyndall
A new air and space operations center opened at Tyndall AFB, Fla., in June. The facility will support North American Aerospace Defense Command and US Northern Command with planning, direction, and assessment of air and space operations. The center, run by 1st Air Force, will manage Noble Eagle air sovereignty operations and direct disaster relief efforts in the continental US.
The newest AOC among the Air Force’s 16 such centers, the facility boasts a two-story, 16-screen “data wall” that collects information from a variety of platforms and sensors in space, in the air, and on the ground, and presents it so that the joint force air component commander can have a constant picture of unfolding regional action. The AOC also has systems allowing the JFACC to communicate with and redirect all USAF assets under his command.
JASSM Project Hits Rocks
The Air Force may look at alternatives to the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile if test problems can’t be fixed, Air Force acquisition chief Sue C. Payton said in June.
The stealth missile, made by Lockheed Martin, has been troubled by testing problems. While 39 missiles have worked as planned, 25 have failed. The causes range from loose bolts to electronic glitches, pointing to quality issues rather than a design problem. The missile’s reliability is in question, she said.
Payton spoke at a press conference to discuss Nunn-McCurdy breaches on several programs. When a program’s cost goes up more than 25 percent or its schedule is delayed substantially, the service must either abandon the program or certify that it meets an essential need and can’t be terminated. Payton said the Air Force was not yet ready to make such a certification. “We’re not certain that the management structure is adequate” at Lockheed Martin’s program office, she said.
If reliability can’t be improved, and production of the JASSM is terminated, USAF will consider alternatives, such as the Navy’s SLAM-ER (Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response) and air-launched versions of the Tomahawk cruise missile, Payton said. The Air Force plans to buy nearly 5,000 JASSM and JASSM-ER, or Extended Range.
C-130 Modernization Reduced
Rising costs have obliged the Air Force to cut the number of C-130s to get an avionics upgrade, from some 300 airframes to 220, service acquisition chief Sue Payton said in June.
Explaining a Nunn-McCurdy breach on the C-130 Avionics Modernization Program (see item above), Payton said that, aside from cost, the program is doing well and will continue.
The cut reflects a desire to create a program with the lowest risk and most mature design that focuses solely on combat delivery aircraft, according to Diane Wright, representing the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics. Some aircraft are too old or worn out to upgrade, and the Air Force has decided to make up for the cost increase by foregoing the upgrade of about 80 airplanes.
The AMP program had gone 21 percent over expected costs, some of which was blamed on labor rates and mission support expenses.
Keys To Retire, Corley To ACC …
Gen. Ronald E. Keys, the head of Air Combat Command, will retire from the Air Force this fall, the service announced in June. Keys took over ACC in May 2005.
During his tenure, Keys was able to bring the F-22 to operational status, oversaw its first deployments, and led the effort to set requirements for the Air Force’s next bomber. He also raised the alarm about decaying capabilities in the USAF’s old combat aircraft fleet.
President Bush nominated Gen. John D.W. Corley, today’s vice chief of staff, to take over the ACC commander’s position. Corley served as the director of the combined air operations center early in Operation Enduring Freedom, director of Air Force Global Power Programs, and USAF representative on the Joint Requirements Oversight Council.
… McNabb for Vice Chief, Lichte for AMC
President Bush has nominated Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, currently the head of Air Mobility Command, Scott AFB, Ill., to become USAF vice chief of staff. He would replace Gen. John D.W. Corley, who is moving to take the head job at Air Combat Command.
Nominated to replace McNabb was Lt. Gen. Arthur J. Lichte, assistant vice chief of staff. In that position, Lichte has headed up the Air Staff in Washington, D.C.
Last U-2 Upgraded
The last U-2 reconnaissance aircraft slated to receive the Block 20 upgrade left Beale AFB, Calif., in early May. After refit at the Palmdale Maintenance Depot, Calif., it will rejoin the fleet next year.
The upgrade marks the completion of a fleetwide effort begun in April 2002 aimed at reducing maintenance costs and updating key components. The cockpit of the venerable reconnaissance aircraft now features a digital cockpit with touch-glass screen and a more ergonomic layout.
The Air Force plans to retain about 20 U-2s until they are replaced by the Global Hawk unmanned aircraft sometime after 2012.
Boeing Extends C-17 Line—Again
Boeing announced in June that it would keep the C-17 line going on its own nickel, in hopes of securing new orders from the Air Force and other countries.
The company said it would extend production of the C-17 at its Long Beach, Calif., plant for six months. The line had been scheduled for closure by mid-2009, since DOD’s budget request for Fiscal 2008 did not include any more orders for the cargo aircraft.
Last year, Boeing said that, without a commitment for more orders, it would begin closing off long-lead item production for the C-17 in March—and it proceeded to do so.
However, an expansion of the Army and Marine Corps, coupled with cost increases on a C-5 upgrade, have given Boeing reason to think USAF may expand its C-17 fleet beyond 190 aircraft. The company now plans to keep the line open until 2010. Shuttering the line and restarting it later would cost upward of $500 million, according to company officials.
Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne, who has complained of Boeing forcing the issue of additional C-17 production at a time when USAF had no money to buy more, told reporters at the Paris Air Show in June that the company’s self-financed extension is “a very good gesture on their part.”
Pave Low Training Ends
The 551st Special Operations Squadron, which has trained aircrews to fly the MH-53 Pave Low helicopter at Kirtland AFB, N.M., since 1989, ceased operations in April, as the Air Force makes way for the new CV-22 Osprey.
Most of the squadron members will continue to serve at the 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland. Many of the flight engineers will transition to the CV-22, while aerial gunners will go to the HH-60 Pave Hawk. Most of the pilots will retire or move to leadership positions.
One Pave Low will remain at Kirtland, on display at the base’s air park. The Pave Low, carrying special operations forces, was one of the first US aircraft to enter Iraq at the outset of Operation Desert Storm in 1991.
More NCO Academies To Close
More schools for enlisted personnel will be closing, due to budget cuts and a personnel drawdown.
The Noncommissioned Officer Academy at McGuire AFB, N.J., closed in May. Following suit will be NCO academies at Kirtland AFB, N.M., Robins AFB, Ga., and Goodfellow AFB, Tex.
The Robins and Goodfellow academies will close next year, and Kirtland’s will close in 2009. The four closures should save the Air Force about $5 million in manpower costs annually.
The moves are the result of USAF’s efforts to reduce to a level of 316,000 active duty personnel by 2009. The cut of 40,000 airmen is intended to save money that can be applied to modernization programs.
AFSOC Gets Predators
In what Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley described as a “patch change,” Air Combat Command gave 21 of its MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicles and associated support equipment to Air Force Special Operations Command in May, boosting AFSOC’s Predator complement to six “orbits.”
An additional seven aircraft were delivered in June to the 3rd Special Operations Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nev., giving a total of 28 UAVs to the squadron first set up at the base by AFSOC in 2005. The new personnel and equipment will accelerate the squadron’s ability to perform 24-hour Predator patrols—as the squadron currently flies Predators in support of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
The 3rd SOS is currently the sole armed remotely piloted aircraft squadron in AFSOC.
WWII MIAs Now Listed Online
An electronic database listing names of service members still missing from World War II is now available, according to the Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office.
The database will help researchers and analysts still searching for remains. It is the first comprehensive list of the missing from World War II, totaling nearly 78,000 names. The list, created over the last three years, was compiled from grave registration documents from the National Archives and other records from World War II. Computer programs were used to cross-check the documents and identify discrepancies.
New names and information will be added as new documents and files are located. The names of servicemen whose remains are recovered and identified in the future will be removed.
The new database, along with databases from the Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, and Gulf War are available on the DPMO’s Web site, http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo.
AEF Prep Squadron Opens
The Air Force formally reactivated the 561st Joint Tactics Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nev., in June. Its new mission will be to help other units get ready for deployments. The unit had been inactive for a decade.
Air Combat Command leaders have chartered the unit to make sure that air and space expeditionary forces (AEFs) have up-to-the-minute information on the places to which they deploy, and to keep the “lessons learned” process fresh and integrated with predeployment “spin-up” training. The deploying AEFs will therefore be effective as soon as they arrive in theater.
The squadron is equipped with experts from across the combat air forces—covering all weapons systems, command and control processes, battlefield airmen, mobility, space, and intelligence assets. It has been provisionally operational since October 2006.
Space Program Advice Wanted
The Air Force wants to create a permanent blue-ribbon panel of seasoned experts to provide a running reality check on the service’s space projects, Lt. Gen. Michael A. Hamel said in June.
Hamel, who heads USAF space acquisitions as commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, told the Wall Street Journal that he wants the outside experts to come from government and industry and to offer advice on new programs as well as ways to make old systems work with new ones. Specifically, they would offer advice on requirements and hardware.
The panel would be like experts on retainer and would not be reconstituted for every new issue encountered, but remain routinely on top of USAF space efforts.
The advice is needed because USAF allowed its own space system integration expertise to atrophy during the 1990s and early 2000s, when it pursued a philosophy of letting contractors call the shots in development efforts. The Air Force is rebuilding its own in-house expertise.
The panel would be distinct from another group, mandated by Congress, that will look exclusively at military and intelligence satellite projects. That group is to offer recommendations on funding and acquisition policies and broader space issues.
Mishap Mars Red Flag-Alaska
A midair collision marred the closing days of Red Flag-Alaska 07-2, which concluded on June 15.
On June 11, an F-15C from Langley AFB, Va., collided with an F-16C from the 64th Aggressor Squadron from Nellis AFB, Nev. The F-15 pilot ejected, while the F-16 pilot was able to land his aircraft at nearby Eielson AFB, Alaska. Neither pilot was seriously injured, and an investigation of the mishap is under way.
The exercise, the second of the year, is sponsored by Pacific Air Forces. It provides joint offensive counterair, interdiction, close air support, and large force employment training over the Pacific Alaskan Range Complex. More than 1,400 military personnel from USAF, the Marine Corps, Singapore, and Australia participated.
Elmendorf Gets First C-17
Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, received its first C-17 airlifter in June. The base is the second in the Pacific Theater to operate with the high-demand aircraft; Hickam AFB, Hawaii, is the other.
The transport is the first of eight destined for the 517th Airlift Squadron and the Alaska Air National Guard’s 249th Airlift Squadron. The last of the eight cargo airplanes is scheduled to arrive in November. The first aircraft was dubbed Spirit of Denali.
The C-17 replaces the C-130s in the 517th AS and is a new aircraft for the Guard. The units will work closely with the Army, supporting Ft. Richardson and its Stryker brigade. New facilities such as hangars, simulators, and a survival equipment shop are either completed or under way to support the new aircraft.
Outstanding Airmen Named
Air Force leaders in June selected the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year for 2007. A selection board at the Air Force Personnel Center chose the 12 from among 33 nominees representing major commands, direct reporting units, field operating agencies, and Air Staff agencies based on leadership, performance, and personal achievement.
All 33 nominees may wear the Outstanding Airman of the Year ribbon; the top 12 wear the ribbon with the bronze service star device. The 12 also wear the Outstanding Airman of the Year badge for one year.
The dozen selected airmen will be honored during the Air Force Association’s Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition in Washington, D.C., this September.
The 12 airmen are SMSgt. Ronald A. Colaninno, McGuire AFB, N.J.; SMSgt. Tammy L. Brangard-Hern, Randolph AFB, Tex.; MSgt. Lawrence B. Taylor, Kingsley Field, Oregon; TSgt. Jeremy L. Griffin, Patrick AFB, Fla.; TSgt. Sachiko D. Jones, RAF Alconbury, Britain; SSgt. Matthew J. Hefti, Hill AFB, Utah; SSgt. Jonathan C. McCoy, Pope AFB, N.C.; SSgt. David Orvosh, Pope AFB, N.C.; SSgt. Richard W. Rose Jr., Charleston AFB, S.C.; SSgt. Geoffrey M. Welsh, Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.; SrA. Linn Aubrey, Lackland AFB, Tex.; and SrA. Matthew C. Hulsman, Elmendorf AFB, Alaska.
“Checkmate” Back in the Game
“Checkmate”—the organization that once provided senior Air Force leaders with an intellectual foil or “Red Team” at the operational level of planning—has been reactivated by Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley, this time as an independent analysis shop studying issues at the strategic level.
The group is to serve as a “focal point” for interacting with Washington, D.C., think tanks and interagency, joint, and research organizations. It is also to serve as an incubator of fresh thinking and future strategists for the Air Force.
The group will comprise 15 to 20 military and civilian USAF personnel with a mix of expertise ranging from defense to airpower, space, and cyberspace operations. The group will be closely linked to existing air staff functions, including strategic planning, communications, public affairs, legislative efforts, and analysis.
Scramjet Project Passes Review
Boeing’s X-51A scramjet engine demonstrator fired its engine for the first time and completed a critical design review in late May, putting it on track to a test flight in 2009.
The “WaveRider” program will demonstrate the feasibility of hypersonic flight. It’s managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s propulsion unit and is a collaboration of the Air Force, DARPA, NASA, Boeing, and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.
In the review, government and industry officials validated the vehicle’s design, assembly, integration, and flight-test plan. Manufacturing and assembly processes were established as well. During the engine test, engineers used a digital engine controller to simulate flight conditions at Mach 5.
The ground test program for the X-51 is being conducted at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.
A battlelab at Langley AFB, Va., closed up shop on June 14, as a cost-cutting measure. The Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Battlelab was established in 1997 to quickly field hardware that could improve the C2ISR mission. It boasted 40 completed initiatives, among which was the Air Tasking Order Visualization and Assessment tool.
The Air Force plans to close all of its battlelabs by Oct. 1.
Col. Jack A. Sims, Doolittle Raider
Col. Jack Ahren Sims, one of the “Doolittle Raiders” that launched the first US attack on Japan in World War II, died June 9 in Naples, Fla. He was 88.
Four months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle’s second in command—Maj. John Hilger—picked Sims as his copilot for the famous raid on the Japanese home islands. Sims, then a second lieutenant, was one of 80 volunteers for the mission, in which 16 B-25 bombers launched from the deck of USS Hornet. Thirteen Doolittle Raiders survive.
|Hayden Praises ISR Reforms
The Air Force did the right thing in overhauling the structure of its intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance organization, since ISR can’t be considered a “support function” any longer, the head of the CIA said in June. Gen. Michael V. Hayden, a career Air Force intelligence officer, told a Washington symposium that he approves of making a three-star general the overseer of the Air Force’s myriad ISR functions, and that the move was necessary in light of real-world needs.
Airmen in the intelligence field fall into two categories, Hayden noted: those who create intelligence and those who apply it. The wars in Southwest Asia have seen emphasis put on the application of intelligence, and not its creation, he said. While airmen in combined air operations centers around the world excel at using and disseminating intelligence, the means to create it has slipped, Hayden said.
The Air Force’s intelligence operations used to be under a two-star general. It was necessary to give the entire field a higher profile, Hayden said.
During the Cold War, targets were easy to spot but tough to kill. Today, “the enemy is easy to finish, but hard to find,” he observed.
Hayden said Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, the Air Force’s ISR chief, is putting the correct emphasis on strengthening the means to collect information, and that this initiative is behind the service’s push to become the Pentagon’s executive agent for high-flying unmanned aerial vehicles. However, he didn’t offer an opinion as to whether the Air Force should get the job.
|Seven Airmen Die in Southwest Asia
Seven airmen died in Southwest Asia in late May and early June in combat incidents, a crash, and of natural causes.
Two agents from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations were killed on June 5 in Kirkuk, Iraq, when their convoy struck an improvised explosive device. TSgt. Ryan A. Balmer, 33, was from Mishawaka, Ind., and was stationed at Hill AFB, Utah. SSgt. Matthew J. Kuglics, 25, was from North Canton, Ohio, and was stationed at Lackland AFB, Tex. Both airmen were deployed as part of OSI’s Expeditionary Det. 2410 in Iraq.
On June 7, SrA. William N. Newman, an explosive ordnance disposal airman with Hickam AFB, Hawaii’s, 15th Civil Engineer Squadron, was killed while attempting to disarm an IED south of Balad AB, Iraq. Newman, 23, was a native of Kingston Springs, Tenn., and was deployed to the 332nd Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight at Balad.
A1C Eric M. Barnes, 20, of Lorain, Ohio, died June 10 when his convoy was hit by an IED about 100 miles south of Baghdad. Barnes was assigned to the 90th Logistics Readiness Squadron at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., and was deployed with the 586th Air Expeditionary Group.
Lt. Col. Glade L. Felix, 52, of Lake Park, Ga., died June 11 at Al Udeid AB, Qatar. Felix was a Reservist assigned to the 622nd Aeromedical Staging Squadron at Robins AFB, Ga. Air Force officials reported that his death was not combat related, and a preliminary report listed heart complications as the cause of death.
Maj. Kevin H. Sonnenberg, 42, of McClure, Ohio, died June 15 when his F-16 crashed five miles north of Balad AB, Iraq. Sonnenberg was an Air National Guardsman assigned to the 112th Fighter Squadron from Toledo, Ohio. The crash is under investigation.
On June 23, A1C Jason D. Nathan, 22, of Macon, Ga., died of wounds suffered from an IED detonation near his vehicle while he was performing gunner duties on patrol. Nathan was assigned to the 48th Security Forces Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, England, and was deployed with the 732nd Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron at Camp Speicher, Iraq.
Gary Pfingston, Former Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force
Retired CMSAF Gary R. Pfingston, the 10th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, died of cancer June 23 in San Antonio. He was 67.
Pfingston held the top USAF enlisted job from August 1990 to October 1994, during Operation Desert Storm and the sharp drawdown period that followed. He was the top enlisted advisor to Chief of Staff Gen. Merrill A. McPeak.
Pfingston was born in Evansville, Ind., in 1940. After a stint playing minor league baseball, he enlisted in 1962 as an aircraft mechanic. After basic training and technical school, he served as a crew member at Castle AFB, Calif., until 1968. He then worked as a crew chief on B-52s and KC-135s at Plattsburgh AFB, N.Y.
After service in Thailand at U Tapao Air Base, Pfingston became a training instructor at Lackland in 1973, and in 1979, he became commandant of the Military Training Instructor School there.
In 1982, Pfingston became a first sergeant, and from 1984 to 1990 he was senior enlisted advisor at George AFB, Calif., Bergstrom AFB, Tex., and finally at Pacific Air Forces Headquarters, Hickam AFB, Hawaii.
After becoming the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force in 1990, Pfingston’s tenure was dominated by the large post-Cold War drawdown of USAF manpower and budget. He wanted to avoid forcing anyone out of the service and worked to get the Voluntary Separation Initiative and the Special Separation Bonus programs started. He pushed to expand enlisted training programs and mandatory in-residence professional military education schools. He also advised the expansion of Air Force specialties open to women and introduced new senior NCO stripes.
Retiring to San Antonio in 1994, he remained active in Air Force life, speaking at academy graduations and NCO academy panels.
“Gary’s life was a shining example of service to our nation and we will miss him greatly,” CMSAF Rodney J. McKinley said.
McPeak said that Pfingston’s start as an aircraft mechanic served his career well in many ways.
“He didn’t just fix it when it broke; he kept things from breaking,” he said, noting that Pfingston’s leadership helped keep the enlisted force intact during the difficult 1990s drawdown.
“The Air Force may have gotten smaller, but it also got better and became a tougher, sharper instrument for protecting the country,” McPeak added.
|Getting Troops Off the Roads
The Air Force is making a huge contribution to holding down casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, by keeping US troops clear of the enemy’s favorite weapon, the improvised explosive device.
So said Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Chief of Staff, in a June meeting with reporters. He said the Air Force is doing its utmost to fly people and materiel to the places they’re needed, rather than send them by convoys vulnerable to ambush.
“We’re [working] very, very … hard on getting people off those roads,” Moseley said.
“The staff tells me we’ve flown 100 percent of everything that the Marines can put inside a C-130 or C-17, [and] got it off the roads, since September . Same with the Army.” Moseley reported an average of 4,500 ground troops being ferried around Iraq or Afghanistan per month, “but some months we’re flying up to eight or nine thousand people.”
He described it as a demonstration of airpower’s flexibility “to be able to fly stuff and get it off the surface and get it out of harm’s way.” American casualty rates due to IEDs dropped sharply several years ago, after the Air Force began taking on some of the transport missions that had been run by convoy, and the Air Force has steadily increased the amount it hauls since.
The Air Force is also heavily tasked in attacking the IED problem directly, Moselely said.
“When you find an IED, a … preponderance … of the people who go out there and work that problem are Air Force and Navy [explosive] ordnance disposal guys,” he noted.
It’s extremely dangerous work, and that’s why, Moseley said, there has been a “spike” in Air Force losses in the EOD field, relative to other specialties.
Moseley also said his staff has been huddled with the Army to make sure that ground vehicles now in development for the Army’s Future Combat System will be compatible with the airlifters in USAF’s inventory, so they can be flown to where they’re needed.
The Army has not always respected the physical dimensions of the inside of C-17s and C-130s in designing gear, and most Army vehicles today require some modifications before they can be loaded for transport.
However, Moseley said the Army is fully aware of “the box size of the C-130 and … C-17” and is now thinking about “what this looks like … beyond the Stryker” vehicle. He said there’s “good news” in the cooperation between the two services in making sure the next generation of vehicles is air-transportable. It hasn’t happened previously, he added, because there have been some “significant” changes in the technology the Army can put into its new combat systems in recent years.
—John A. Tirpak
|Mackay Trophy to A-10 Pilot
An A-10 pilot who saved the lives of a Special Forces team in Afghanistan has been selected by the National Aeronautic Association to receive the Mackay Trophy for 2006.
Capt. Scott L. Markle of the 81st Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem AB, Germany, responded to a call for help on June 16, 2006, when a 15-man special ops team was engaged in close-quarters combat after being ambushed by Taliban fighters. Unable to use weapons, Markle flew perilously low and dispensed flares. The “show of force” maneuver was effective in stopping enemy fire, and, urged on by a ground controller, Markle flew three more such passes, giving the team a chance to pull back from the fight. They escaped with no casualties.
Markle then used his A-10’s 30 mm cannon to destroy three machine gun nests and killed Taliban fighters. The ground commander and his team personally thanked Markle, crediting him with saving their lives.
The Mackay Trophy was created in 1912. Markle will receive a gold medal at an award presentation in October.
|Robin Olds, “MiG Sweep” Fighter Pilot
Retired Brig. Gen. Robin Olds—Air Force tactician, airpower advocate, and the only fighter ace to score victories in both World War II and Vietnam—died June 14. He was nearly 85.
Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley described him as “one of our ‘great captains’ and … an inspiration to our nation and our Air Force.”
Olds was born in 1922 and graduated from West Point in 1943. He became a fighter pilot, went to Europe, and on only his second mission, became an ace. First in the P-38 Lightning and then in the P-51 Mustang, Olds flew 107 combat missions, achieving 12 aerial victories.
After World War II, Olds was among the first to fly the Air Force’s first operational jet fighter, the P-80. He was also a member of USAF’s first jet aircraft aerial demonstration team.
After Korea, when the Air Force became focused on the nuclear mission, Olds preached loudly about the need to continue teaching fighter pilots the skills of dogfighting, strafing, and low-altitude bombing.
In interviews, Olds later related that he was upbraided for advocating tactical capabilities. In 1962, his two-star boss told him that conventional wars were a thing of the past.
Four years later, flying in an F-4 over Vietnam, Olds told his backseater not to worry about their iron bomb mission or the MiGs they would dogfight that day. “I have it on good authority,” Olds said, “that this is not happening.”
During the war, Olds commanded the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing at Ubon AB, Thailand. He wangled permission to conduct Operation Bolo in 1967, which became one of the most successful missions of the air war. Pretending to be bomb-laden F-105s, Olds and a group of missile-armed F-4s set an ambush for MiG-21s, whose airfields they were forbidden to attack. In one day, seven of the 16 MiG-21s known to be in theater were destroyed. Olds flew 152 combat missions during Vietnam and scored four victories. After the war, Olds served as commandant of the Air Force Academy and ended his active service as USAF’s director of safety. Olds’ advocacy laid the foundation for the “war-winning air-to-air tactics and doctrine of surgical precision bombing we use today,” Moseley said. A funeral service was held at the Air Force Academy on June 30.
|The War on Terrorism|
|Operation Iraqi Freedom—Iraq
By July 12, a total of 3,611 Americans had died during Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq. The total comprises 3,604 uniformed troops and seven Department of Defense civilians. Of these deaths, 2,967 died in action while 644 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 26,695 troops wounded in action during OIF. This number includes 14,681 who returned to duty within 72 hours and 12,014 who were unable to return to duty quickly.
USAF Supports Arrowhead Ripper
The Air Force supported Arrowhead Ripper in June, a large-scale operation aimed at destroying al Qaeda fighters and leadership around Baqubah, Iraq. It involved more than 10,000 US and Iraqi troops, Strykers and Bradley fighting vehicles, and attack helicopters.
On June 19, Air Force F-16s dropped GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions and GBU-12 laser guided bombs on houses being used as firing positions by insurgents, as well as on buildings where improvised explosive devices were stored.
The following day, F-16s employed GBU-38s on IEDs embedded near a road. Another F-16 dropped a JDAM and LGB on insurgent safe houses and a vehicle during the day’s operations; video confirmed direct hits.
On June 21, a B-1B released JDAMs on more IED facilities and a roadblock near Baqubah. An F-16 released a JDAM and an LGB on a weapons cache in a palm grove nearby.
Three days later, F-16s dropped munitions on houses in Baqubah suspected of containing IEDs. In the same operation, another F-16 released a GBU-38 on a facility suspected of containing an IED. A nearby joint terminal attack controller reported that the weapon hit the intended target.
Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan
By July 12, a total of 407 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom. The total includes 406 troops and one Department of Defense civilian. Of these deaths, 227 were killed in action with the enemy while 180 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 1,380 troops wounded in action during OEF. This number includes 551 who were wounded and returned to duty within 72 hours and 829 who were unable to return to duty quickly.
More ISR Needed for Afghanistan
NATO forces are short four brigades of troops, plus helicopters and intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance assets, Army Gen. B. John Craddock, chief of US European Command and the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, said in late May.
The helicopters and ISR systems are critical, he said, because mobility can make the most of the troops that NATO does have, and ISR can steer them to where they can best be used.
Specifically, Craddock wants more of the full-motion video—and the ability to process it—now mainly provided by the Air Force’s Predator fleet at Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Air Strike Claims Militants and Civilians
US and coalition aircraft performed an air strike on a compound suspected of housing al Qaeda and Taliban militants in eastern Afghanistan on June 17.
In an operation backed by Afghan troops, US forces called in an air strike on a compound that contained a mosque and a religious school. Coalition forces confirmed enemy activity occurring at the site before getting approval for the strike, US Central Command officials said. Following the strike, residents of the compound confirmed the presence of al Qaeda fighters. In total, several militants and seven civilians—children ages 10 to 16—were killed. Two more militants were detained afterward.
The following day, CENTCOM officials apologized for the loss of civilian life and reported that children who survived the attack told Afghan authorities they were held inside the building throughout the day, beyond the sight of coalition observers. The children who attempted to leave were beaten and pushed away.
|Senior Staff Changes
RETIREMENTS: Maj. Gen. Joseph E. Kelley.
NOMINATIONS: To be Brigadier General: Mark A. Atkinson, Mark A. Barrett, Brian T. Bishop, Michael R. Boera, Norman J. Brozenick Jr., Cathy C. Clothier, David A. Cotton, Sharon K.G. Dunbar, Barbara J. Faulkenberry, Larry K. Grundhauser, Garrett Harencak, James M. Holmes, Dave C. Howe, James J. Jones, Michael A. Keltz, Frederick H. Martin, Wendy M. Masiello, Robert P. Otto, Leonard A. Patrick, Bradley R. Pray, Lori J. Robinson, Anthony J. Rock, Jay G. Santee, Rowayne A. Schatz Jr., Steven J. Spano, Thomas L. Tinsley, Jack Weinstein, Stephen W. Wilson, Margaret H. Woodward. To be ANG Major General: Michael D. Akey, Michael G. Brandt, Richard H. Clevenger, Cynthia N. Kirkland, Duane J. Lodrige, Patrick J. Moisio, Charles A. Morgan III, Daniel B. O’Hollaren, Peter S. Pawling, William M. Schuessler, Haywood R. Starling Jr., Raymond L. Webster. To be ANG Brigadier General: Maurice T. Brock, Jim C. Chow, Michael G. Colangelo, Barry K. Coln, Steven A. Cray, James D. Demeritt, Matthew J. Dzialo, Trulan A. Eyre, Jon F. Fago, William S. Hadaway III, Samuel C. Heady, John P. Hughes, Mark R. Johnson, Patrick L. Martin, Richard A. Mitchell, John F. Nichols, Grady L. Patterson III, George E. Pigeon, William N. Reddell III, Harold E. Reed, Leon S. Rice, Alphonse J. Stephenson, Eric W. Vollmecke, Eric G. Weller.
CHANGES: Brig. Gen. (sel.) Norman J. Brozenick Jr., from Cmdr., 1st SOW, AFSOC, Hurlburt Field, Fla., to Dep. Dir., Studies & Analyses, Assessments, & Lessons Learned, USAF, Pentagon … Maj. Gen. Roger W. Burg, from Dir., Strat. Security, DCS, Air, Space, & Info. Ops., P&R, USAF, Pentagon, to Cmdr., 20th AF, AFSPC, F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo. … Maj. Gen. Thomas F. Deppe, from Cmdr., 20th AF, AFSPC, F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., to Vice Cmdr., AFSPC, Peterson AFB, Colo. … Brig. Gen. David S. Fadok, from Dep. Dir., Studies & Analyses, Assessments, & Lessons Learned, USAF, Pentagon, to Dir., Warfighter Systems Integration & Deployment, Office of Warfighting Integration and CIO, OSAF, Pentagon … Brig. Gen. Mark W. Graper, from Dir., Standing Jt. Force Hq-North, NORTHCOM, Peterson AFB, Colo., to Cmdr., 354th FW, PACAF, Eielson AFB, Alaska … Brig. Gen. Jimmie C. Jackson Jr., from Dep. Cmdr., CAOC 7, Component Command-Air Izmir, Allied Command Ops (NATO), Larissa, Greece, to Commandant, ACSC, AU, AETC, Maxwell AFB, Ala. … Brig. Gen. Jay H. Lindell, from Commandant, ACSC, AU, AETC, Maxwell AFB, Ala., to Cmdr., Coalition AF Transition Team, Multinational Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, Kabul, Afghanistan … Brig. Gen. David J. Scott, from Cmdr., 354th FW, PACAF, Eielson AFB, Alaska, to Dep. Cmdr., CAOC 7, Component Command-Air Izmir, Allied Command Ops (NATO), Larissa, Greece … Maj. Gen. Thomas W. Travis, from Command Surgeon, ACC, Langley AFB, Va., to Cmdr., 59th Medical Wg (Wilford Hall Med. Ctr.), AETC, Lackland AFB, Tex. … Maj. Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, from Dep. Cmdr., Jt. Functional Component Command for ISR, STRATCOM, Bolling AFB, D.C., to Vice Cmdr., AETC, Randolph AFB, Tex. … Brig. Gen. James A. Whitmore, from Dir., Warfighter Systems Integration & Deployment, Office of Warfighting Integration & CIO, OSAF, Pentagon, to Dep. Cmdr., Jt. Functional Component Command for ISR, STRATCOM, Bolling AFB, D.C.