USAF Awards Combat MedalsGen. 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.
Mitchell Family at CeremonyThe 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.
Members of Mitchell’s family were present for the awards ceremony, as was the medal’s designer, Susan Gamble.
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.
Troop Cut Limit: 40,000The 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.
“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.
Wynne added that the Air Force will continue force shaping efforts that move the right number of personnel to critical career fields.
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.
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.
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.
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 AMP program had gone 21 percent over expected costs, some of which was blamed on labor rates and mission support expenses.
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.
... McNabb for Vice Chief, Lichte for AMCPresident 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.
Last U-2 UpgradedThe 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 Air Force plans to retain about 20 U-2s until they are replaced by the Global Hawk unmanned aircraft sometime after 2012.
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.
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.
Pave Low Training EndsThe 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
WWII MIAs Now Listed OnlineAn 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.
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.
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.
Space Program Advice WantedThe 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 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.
Mishap Mars Red Flag-AlaskaA midair collision marred the closing days of Red Flag-Alaska 07-2, which concluded on June 15.
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.
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.
Outstanding Airmen NamedAir 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.
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.
“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 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.
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.
The ground test program for the X-51 is being conducted at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.
The Air Force plans to close all of its battlelabs by Oct. 1.
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.
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.
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.
Seven airmen died in Southwest Asia in late May and early June in combat incidents, a crash, and of natural causes.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Retiring to San Antonio in 1994, he remained active in Air Force life, speaking at academy graduations and NCO academy panels.
McPeak said that Pfingston’s start as an aircraft mechanic served his career well in many ways.
“The Air Force may have gotten smaller, but it also got better and became a tougher, sharper instrument for protecting the country,” McPeak added.
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.
“We’re [working] very, very ... hard on getting people off those roads,” Moseley said.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.”
CasualtiesBy 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.
USAF Supports Arrowhead RipperThe 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.
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.
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.
CasualtiesBy 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.
More ISR Needed for AfghanistanNATO 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.
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.
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.
RETIREMENTS: Maj. Gen. Joseph E. Kelley.
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.
Daily Report: Read the day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
Daily Report: Read the day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
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