Airman Dies in Afghanistan
TSgt. Anthony C. Campbell Jr., 35, of Florence, Ky., died Dec. 15 from wounds he received from an improvised explosive device that detonated in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Campbell, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with Air Force Reserve Command’s 932nd Civil Engineer Squadron at Scott AFB, Ill., was a police officer in Cincinnati in his civilian life.
WGS-3 Ascends Into Orbit
The Air Force and its industry partners on Dec. 5 successfully launched WGS-3, the service’s third Wideband Global SATCOM spacecraft, into space aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket fired from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla.
WGS manufacturer Boeing announced on the following day that initial signals from the satellite indicated that it was healthy. Following its on-orbit tests over the US West Coast, WGS-3 will be placed into geosynchronous Earth orbit over the Atlantic Ocean, according to the company.
WGS-3 joined WGS-1, which sits above the Pacific Ocean and WGS-2, which is perched above the Indian Ocean. WGS satellites will augment and eventually replace the Air Force’s legacy Defense Satellite Communications System constellation.
START I Accord Expires
The 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty I expired Dec. 5, leaving the United States and Russia still negotiating the details of a follow-on agreement and hoping to finalize the new pact at the earliest possible date.
“We are quite close to an agreement,” said President Obama during a joint press briefing with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Dec. 18 in Copenhagen. State Department spokesman Robert Wood said the previous day that “verification issues” were one of the items still to be resolved.
Concerned over the loss of access to monitor Russian strategic nuclear forces in the interim until the new follow-on agreement takes effect, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) introduced a resolution in November that would extend the START I inspection and monitoring protocols.
USAF’s Iraq Presence May Endure
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates told airmen during a townhall session Dec. 11 at FOB Warrior in Iraq that the Air Force could remain in Iraq after the main US troop pullout.
Asked about USAF assistance to the Iraqi Air Force, he said, “I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see agreements between ourselves and the Iraqis that continue a ‘train, equip, and advise’ role beyond the end of 2011.”
In fact, he said the same applied to Afghanistan. Both countries, Gates said, recognize that that “kind of role is very likely to continue beyond the end of our combat operations.” But he acknowledged there were no long-term agreements in place yet.
F-22s Return From Middle East
Six F-22 Raptor stealth fighters and about 150 airmen from the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, Va., returned home in mid-December from a nearly one-month training deployment to the Middle East, the first time that Raptors have been in the region.
“We didn’t know how the jet was going to perform or react, given the temperature differences as well as the dust, sand, and wind,” said Lt. Col. Lance Pilch, commander of the 27th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, who led the contingent. He added, “But we were able to fly more sorties than we scheduled for, so the F-22 actually exceeded expectations.”
During their time there, the F-22s flew with British, French, Jordanian, and Pakistani fighters taking part in an exercise at the United Arab Emirates’ Air Warfare Center, according to the Air Force.
KC-X Requirements Called Sound
Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley said Dec. 14 major revisions were unlikely in the final version of the KC-X tanker solicitation that was expected to hit the streets in late January or early February, despite Northrop Grumman’s threat to exit the contest. Northrop Grumman asserts that the terms in the draft language favor rival Boeing.
“The requirements part of the [request for proposals] is very strong,” Donley told reporters at a Reuters summit in Washington, D.C. He added, “I wouldn’t anticipate major changes to the RFP in that area.”
Northrop Grumman President Wesley G. Bush informed the Pentagon acquisition leadership on Dec. 1 that the company would not submit a tanker bid “absent a responsive set of changes” in the final RFP. But Donley, echoing senior Department of Defense officials, said the Air Force was “very leery” of making changes that could be seen as benefiting one company.
Strike Command Acquires ICBMs
Air Force Global Strike Command at Barksdale AFB, La., on Dec. 1 assumed responsibility for the nation’s Minuteman III ICBM force from Air Force Space Command under a scheduled shift of authority.
With the switch, AFGSC now manages the nation’s 450 Minuteman III missiles, which are divided equally among 20th Air Force’s 90th Missile Wing at F. E. Warren AFB, Wyo., 91st Missile Wing at Minot AFB, N.D., and 341st Missile Wing at Malmstrom AFB, Mont.
This move was part of the phased buildup of Global Strike Command, USAF’s newest major command, as overseer of all Air Force nuclear assets. Next up, 8th Air Force, parent of the service’s three nuclear-capable bomber wings, is scheduled to transfer from Air Combat Command to AFGSC on Feb. 1, completing the nuclear consolidation.
C-27J Training Center Opens
Air Force, Army, and community and industry partners on Dec. 9 celebrated the opening at Robins AFB, Ga., of a $1.8 million center for training the Air National Guardsmen who will operate the service’s new C-27J transport aircraft.
The new center replaces the interim training site at the facility of L-3 Communications, C-27J lead contractor, in Waco, Tex. It offers classroom instruction and will feature a full-fidelity operational flight trainer and a fuselage trainer, when fully equipped in 2011, according to L-3.
At peak levels in about five years, 144 airmen will pass through it each year. The Air Force is procuring 38 C-27Js for the Air National Guard, which expects to start operating them by year’s end in intratheater roles.
Guardsmen Flying Reapers in Combat
Airmen of the New York Air National Guard’s 174th Fighter Wing at Hancock ANGB in Syracuse on Dec. 1 entered steady-state operations flying MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft in the skies of Afghanistan, supporting coalition ground forces in armed overwatch roles.
The Air Guardsmen control the Reapers from ground stations in Syracuse, sending commands to the aircraft in theater through satellite networks.
The wing is the first Air Guard unit to operate MQ-9s, having shed its F-16 flying mission in June 2008 per BRAC 2005. It also opened the Air Force’s sole MQ-9 maintenance schoolhouse in October.
Land Gained for Melrose Expansion
New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) announced Dec. 7 that the Office of the Secretary of Defense had granted the Air Force a waiver so that the service could receive a $5 million land gift from the state to expand Melrose Bombing Range in eastern New Mexico.
“I am pleased that the Department of Defense has approved the waiver that will allow the Air Force to acquire the land,” he said in a release that day. The waiver was necessary since DOD currently has a moratorium on major land acquisitions by the services for installations in the US.
In 2005, Richardson committed $5 million worth of land to the bombing range to help save Cannon Air Force Base from closure during BRAC deliberations. The state’s legislature appropriated the money in 2006 to acquire the land.
Block 30 Global Hawk Arrives
The 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB, Calif., on Nov. 24 took delivery of its first RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 unmanned reconnaissance aircraft. This airframe flew in from Edwards AFB, Calif., where it had been used in developmental flight tests.
The Block 30 model has a wider wingspan and can carry 1,000 pounds more payload than the Block 10s that already call Beale home and have been in use over Afghanistan and Iraq. It will carry an enhanced imagery sensor suite and a signals intelligence payload.
The aircraft’s arrival came four days after Global Hawk-manufacturer Northrop Grumman announced that the Block 30 variant—as well as the Block 20 configuration—had received military airworthiness certification, a prerequisite for FAA clearance for these Global Hawks to fly routinely within the US.
Human Error Blamed in F-15E Crash
An incorrect assessment of elevation led to an F-15E crashing in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan last July 18, killing its aircrew, according to the findings of Air Combat Command’s accident investigation released Dec. 1.
Two F-15Es from the 336th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Bagram Airfield were practicing nighttime strafing after completing a close air support mission. The weapon systems officer in the lead aircraft miscalculated the practice target’s elevation as 4,800 feet above sea level when it was actually at 10,200 feet, said ACC officials.
The second F-15E approached the target not realizing the discrepancy and subsequently impacted the ground, claiming the lives of Capt. Thomas J. Gramith, 27, and Capt. Mark R. McDowell, 26.
Energy Plan Released
The Air Force on Dec. 9 issued a new energy plan that lays out the service’s long-range—to 2035—institutionalized energy goals. It lists how the Air Force aims to reduce energy demand, increase supply through alternative and renewable energy sources, and change the service’s culture so that energy is a consideration in everything airmen do.
“Military forces will always be dependent on energy, but we must dramatically reduce the risk to national security associated with our current energy posture,” said Debra K. Walker, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for logistics, in addressing the plan.
About two years in the making, the plan builds on recent USAF policy guidance. The Air Force is the largest energy consumer in the federal government and is also at the forefront of national alternative and renewable energy activities.
UAV Airmen Will Stay in Mission
The Air Force announced in late October that the service leadership had extended the policy that prohibits MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper operators from transferring out of the UAV mission through Fiscal 2011.
The service is working to establish 50 UAV combat air patrols by 2011 and had 39 supporting Southwest Asia operations, as of mid-December (31 MQ-1 Predator, seven MQ-9 Reaper, and one RQ-4 Global Hawk).
In a memo to UAV airmen, Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz said, “We cannot overstate how important you and the unmanned aircraft system capabilities are to our joint and coalition teammates—and to our nation.”
US-Singapore Launch F-15SG Unit
US and Singaporean government officials on Nov. 19 celebrated the inauguration of the combined F-15SG fighter detachment at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, under the bilateral Peace Carvin V initiative.
Under it, Mountain Home’s 366th Fighter Wing is hosting the 428th Fighter Squadron, a unit that will train Republic of Singapore Air Force airmen to operate their new fleet of F-15SGs. The squadron will have 12 F-15SGs and function with USAF and Singaporean airmen working side by side.
“While our relationship with the Republic of Singapore and its air force has been strong in the past, I know the partnership here will bring us even closer together,” said Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley, at the inauguration ceremony.
Joint Texas Base Outlined
On Dec. 16, Air Force officials announced that USAF and Army leadership had signed a memorandum of agreement outlining how Joint Base San Antonio will operate. It is the largest joint installation being created as a result of BRAC 2005.
The joint facility, an amalgam of Ft. Sam Houston and Lackland and Randolph Air Force Bases, is expected to be fully operational on Oct. 1, under the leadership of the new 502nd Air Base Wing at Randolph.
Clarence E. Maxwell, San Antonio Joint Program Office deputy director, said the most challenging element of the MOA negotiations was “allocating expenses” that derive from all of the ongoing BRAC actions in San Antonio. “No other joint base is experiencing [this] kind of growth,” he explained.
Eglin Eyed as F-35 Software Center
Eglin AFB, Fla., is under consideration as a “reprogramming facility” for developing and distributing software upgrades to future international operators of the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter, reported Reuters news wire service Nov. 24.
Citing a senior F-35 program official, Reuters reported that this type of facility is envisioned since the United States does not intend to release the F-35’s sensitive software source code to the international partners sharing in the aircraft’s development, despite their requests, or to those countries that will purchase the aircraft off the production line.
Friction between the US and the F-35 partners over technology sharing has arisen at times, but has so far not derailed the massive multinational project. Eglin is already the planned location of the F-35 initial joint schoolhouse.
Fractionated Satellite Effort Advances
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awarded a one-year, $75 million contract to Orbital Sciences Corp. for the second phase of the System F6 fractionated spacecraft demonstrator program.
During this time, Orbital’s industry team will mature its fractionated satellite design up through a critical design review, along with completing development of the majority of the software, stated the agency in a Dec. 4 release.
An on-orbit demonstration of this fractionated space architecture is planned in 2013 to show the value of operating a cluster of separate, small free-flying spacecraft modules as a much larger “virtual” satellite. This approach could spawn a new design paradigm that moves away from large monolithic satellites.
Grand Forks Gets Expanded UAV Mission
Grand Forks AFB, N.D., will host an expanded unmanned aircraft mission with the stationing of a mission control element there to operate RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 20 unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, announced the Air Force on Dec. 17.
The MCE is expected to arrive in fall 2011, pending a favorable environmental assessment. With it, Grand Forks airmen will control Global Hawks equipped with a communications relay called the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node.
Grand Forks, which is scheduled to lose its last KC-135 tanker aircraft in December, is also slated to be the future home to Global Hawk Block 40 aircraft that will feature a sophisticated radar system for tracking moving ground targets. The first Block 40 aircraft made its maiden flight on Nov. 16 over the skies of southern California.
C-5M Completes Surge Tests
Air Force officials at Dover AFB, Del., announced Dec. 3 that they had successfully completed the surge-operations portion of operational testing of the C-5M Super Galaxy transport aircraft, a 31-day period of nonstop sorties from Dover to Incirlik AB, Turkey.
Over this period, the C-5M flew 34 missions and moved 3.8 million pounds of cargo, bypassing traditional fuel stops for the C-5B variant at Rota, Spain, and flying directly to Incirlik. This saved more than 365 hours and about 1.3 million pounds of fuel, said the Dover officials.
The next step in C-5M operational test and evaluation was cold-weather testing, which began in Alaska in December. The C-5M features new avionics, engines, and reliability enhancements. The Air Force is upgrading 52 of its 111 C-5s to this configuration.
B-52 Radar Upgrade Eyed
The Air Force announced in late November its interest in investigating the applicability of an existing radar system as a potential replacement to the current AN/APQ-166 radar used on its force of 76 B-52H bombers.
In a request for information to industry, the service said the APQ-166—a mechanically scanned array system fielded in the 1950s and last upgraded in the early 1980s—is “approaching the end of its useful life.”
Forecasts are that the radar “will become unsupportable beginning in the 2016 time frame,” stated the RFI. The Air Force is therefore interested in a replacement system that would be available for initial delivery in Fiscal 2016. It must have a “minimum lifecycle through the 2040 time frame,” according to the solicitation.
X-51A Nears First Flight
In a captive-carry test Dec. 9, a B-52H bomber carried aloft the X-51A Wave Rider hypersonic test vehicle over Edwards AFB, Calif., paving the way for the X-51’s maiden free flight that is scheduled around March.
“We successfully captured all of our test points without any anomalies,” said Charlie Brink, X-51A program manager with Air Force Research Lab’s propulsion directorate at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, of the test.
Program officials expect the Wave Rider to light its supersonic combustion ramjet engine for a five-minute hypersonic flight over the Pacific Ocean when it flies free for the first time. One dress rehearsal was planned before the first flight.
Edwards Solar Project Discussed
The Air Force announced Nov. 24 that it was poised to begin negotiations with Fotowatio Renewable Ventures of San Francisco, an independent solar power producer, on a lease deal to develop the largest crystalline photovoltaic solar project in North America on the grounds of Edwards AFB, Calif.
The service said it selected FRV for the negotiations, following a competitive evaluation of proposals that were due last September.
Once negotiations are finalized and an enhanced use lease is signed with FRV, development of the 3,288-acre solar farm will commence. According to the Air Force Real Property Agency, it will deliver enough energy to power nearly 89,000 homes.
Space Debris Removal Explored
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced Dec. 9 that it is exploring the merits of removing man-made debris from Earth orbit, out of concern over the growing danger that these objects pose to spacecraft and satellites.
This study, known as Catcher’s Mitt, will model debris, both now and projected in the future, and then, if appropriate, explore technically and economically feasible solutions for debris removal, said the agency.
“If justified, potential follow-on efforts might include a new DARPA-led program, or DARPA support for an effort led by another US government organization,” said Wade Pulliam, a DARPA program manager.
Airmen Records Go to Archives
Approximately 177,000 official military personnel files on Nov. 18 became part of the public record with their transfer from the Air Force Personnel Center to the National Archives and Records Administration in St. Louis for permanent retention.
USAF was the last service to make this move as part of an arrangement between the Department of Defense and US Archivist, under which personnel files become archival 62 years after an airman is discharged, retired, or dies in service.
Included in the batch now in St. Louis are the personnel files of such airpower pioneers as Gen. Jimmy Doolittle and Brig. Gen. William Mitchell. Prior to this transfer, access to these personnel files was limited to veterans, their primary next of kin, and federal agencies.
Airman Receives Bronze Star Medal
SSgt. Charles Holley of the 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Whiteman AFB, Mo., has received a Bronze Star Medal with valor device for service in Southwest Asia.
Holley was honored Nov. 25 for his actions as Humvee gunner during a convoy mission in Tiqurit, Iraq, in 2008. An IED exploded under his vehicle. Despite his own injuries—he ultimately suffered second-degree burns to his hands and face and took shrapnel in one leg—he tried to extract two bodies from the burning Humvee and then refused medical treatment and helped return enemy fire until the scene stabilized.
World War II Bomber Crew Buried
The remains of the aircrew of The Happy Legend, a B-25 bomber that crashed in the mountains of New Guinea on Dec. 5, 1942, were laid to rest on Nov. 17 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.
Although the bomber’s wreckage was first located in 1943, it took until 2006 for the remains and effects to arrive back in the US and another few years to organize the burial ceremony for all the families, reported the Chicago Daily Herald Nov. 24.
Two caskets were interred. One had the individual remains of 2nd Lt. William N. Stocking, the navigator. The other contained the personal effects of the crew members for whom no remains were recovered: 1st Lt. Charles L. Maggart, the pilot, 1st Lt. Wilson Pinkstaff, copilot, 2nd Lt. Frank Thompson, bombardier, Sgt. Aubrey L. Atkins Jr., radio operator, Cpl. Richard P. Grutza, engineer, and Cpl. Antonio P. Calderon, gunner.
Pentagon Slows F-35 Production Ramp-Up
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates has reportedly directed Pentagon planners to shift more than $2.8 billion originally earmarked to buy F-35 Lightning II strike fighters through 2015 back into the aircraft’s development to keep the multibillion-dollar project from derailing.
Bloomberg news wire service broke the news Jan. 6, citing an internal Pentagon budget document that Gates, who has made the F-35’s success a top priority, signed Dec. 23.
This move, expected to be included in the Pentagon’s Fiscal 2011 budget request that will go to Congress in February, would reduce the number of F-35s purchased over that period by 122 airframes, or roughly one-quarter, including a 10-aircraft cut in Fiscal 2011.
Senior Department of Defense officials had been acknowledging near the end of 2009 that the F-35 program was facing serious challenges, a bow to the assessment by the Pentagon’s Joint Estimate Team that warned last year that the program still faced lengthy delays and could require hefty funding infusions to stay on track.
“We don’t like some of the trends we see, and we are determined not to accept those trends,” said Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III Dec. 2 in his remarks at an aerospace and defense conference in New York City.
While not outright confirming these changes reflected in Gates’ directive, since the final budget request had not been issued, Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley said Dec. 14 at an aerospace and defense conference in Washington, D.C., that there would be “adjustments in dollars” and “adjustments in schedule” for the F-35 program.
But he said there were no plans to cut the overall F-35 buy, which now is projected to include some 1,760 fighters for the Air Force and another 680 for the Navy and Marine Corps, plus more for allied partners.
Rather, the changes would merely shift aircraft purchases to later years, according to defense officials and representatives from Lockheed Martin, F-35 manufacturer.
Bill Funds C-17s, F136 Engine, Slows Fighter Phaseout
Among the provisions in the Fiscal 2010 defense appropriations bill, signed into law by President Obama on Dec. 19, are funds for more Air Force C-17 transport aircraft and for keeping the F-35 Lightning II strike fighter’s alternate engine project alive.
The legislation also slows the retirement of Air Force legacy fighter aircraft this year.
The Senate on Dec. 19 passed the $636.3 billion bill, which includes $128.3 billion for overseas contingency operations. The House had approved it three days earlier.
The funding total is $3.8 billion shy of the Administration’s $640.1 billion request.
Like the Fiscal 2010 defense policy act, the spending act contains no funds to buy any additional F-22 Raptor stealth fighters beyond the 187 airframes already ordered.
But despite Administration resistance, the act contains $2.5 billion added for 10 C-17s that will increase the Air Force’s program of record to 223.
The Air Force did not request these airframes and the White House did not want them, but Obama did not threaten to veto the bill over this add-on.
Going against the Administration in another area, the act also provides $465 million to continue development and fund initial procurement of the General Electric-Rolls Royce F136 engine, the turbofan propulsion system competing against Pratt & Whitney’s F135 to power future F-35s.
The spending act also prohibits the Air Force from carrying out its plan to retire some 250 legacy A-10, F-15, and F-16 fighters in this fiscal year, pending April 1 delivery of the results of an independent review conducted by a federally funded research and development center.
The Air Force is required, too, to divulge to Congress more of its legacy fighter plans, particularly in regard to the air sovereignty alert mission.
The act also directs the Air Force to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of its plan to shift F-15 training from Tyndall AFB, Fla., to the Oregon Air National Guard’s Klamath Falls Arpt./Kingsley Field. That move is now also delayed until at least April.
Gen. Lew Allen Jr., 1925-2010
Gen. Lew Allen Jr., the Air Force’s 10th Chief of Staff and a key shaper of the service’s nuclear, space, and other key technology programs, died Jan. 4. He was 84.
Allen was unique among USAF Chiefs of Staff in that he held a doctorate degree and never served in either an overseas assignment or a combat command. However, he was highly regarded for his keen management of cutting-edge technological programs and for setting high ethical standards for the organizations he led.
Born in Miami, Allen was admitted to West Point in 1943. Three years later, he graduated and was commissioned, having also received his pilot wings. In the years just after World War II, he flew B-29 and B-36 bombers out of Carswell AFB, Tex.
In 1950, Allen entered the University of Illinois, earning both a master’s and a doctoral degree in nuclear physics. In 1954, he was assigned to Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in New Mexico, where he investigated the effects of high-altitude nuclear detonations. A four-year tour followed at Kirtland AFB, N.M., as a science advisor to the Air Force Special Weapons Center.
Allen was then posted to the Pentagon, where he worked on the top-secret Corona satellite intelligence program, determining how radiation would affect the reconnaissance satellite’s photographic film.
In 1965, Allen was sent to Los Angeles to the Directorate of Special Projects, and in 1969 became director of the space systems staff back in Washington. In these posts, he helped manage the Air Force’s most classified space projects.
He returned to Los Angeles in 1971 and became director of the Office of Special Projects. In that position, Allen was responsible for the cradle-to-grave procurement, launch, and operation of USAF satellites.
After a stint as chief of staff at Air Force Systems Command, Allen in 1973 was appointed deputy to the Director of Central Intelligence. Just a few months later, he was made the three-star head of the National Security Agency, an organization he led for four years. During his tenure, he not only oversaw the NSA’s worldwide intelligence collection activities but also created a culture that won Congressional praise as a model of ethical practices.
Allen received his fourth star in August 1977 and became head of Air Force Systems Command at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, where he oversaw the development of all Air Force technology. Eight months later, he was tapped to be vice chief of staff.
Allen succeeded Air Force Gen. David C. Jones as Chief of Staff in July 1978, when Jones was appointed to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
As Chief, Allen advised Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan on the SALT II nuclear arms treaty. Internally, he worked to overhaul the Air Force’s cumbersome personnel system and maintained the Air Force’s technology edge during what was later called the “hollow force” era following the Vietnam War. He moved forward the nascent technology of stealth, launching both the F-117 and B-2 bomber programs, and pushed through the A-10 and F-16 fighters. As Chief, Allen also oversaw the creation of Air Force Space Command.
Allen retired from the Air Force in 1982, but proceeded to put his mark on the civilian space program as well, heading NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory through 1989. The period is now regarded as a heyday for JPL, during which it racked up abundant scientific successes in the exploration of the solar system.
After his retirement from NASA, Allen served in a variety of advisory positions, significantly on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and the Intelligence Oversight Board.
The Air Force’s Lew Allen Jr. Trophy is given annually to an officer and NCO to recognize outstanding performance in aircraft sortie generation.
—John A. Tirpak
Gen. Paul K. Carlton, 1921-2009
Retired Gen. Paul K. Carlton, who commanded Military Airlift Command, predecessor of today’s Air Mobility Command, from September 1972 to March 1977, died Nov. 23 in San Antonio at age 88.
Under Carlton’s leadership, MAC consolidated the Air Force’s tactical and strategic airlift assets and was responsible for high-profile missions such as Operation Homecoming, the repatriation of US prisoners of war from Vietnam.
“His accomplishments as a commander will be remembered and honored; he embodied the core values of integrity, service before self, and excellence,” Gen. Raymond E. Johns Jr., AMC commander, said of Carlton Nov. 25.
Carlton was born in April 1921 in Manchester, N.H. He attended the University of Pittsburgh and Ohio University. In September 1941, he entered the Army Air Corps aviation cadet program, receiving his pilot wings and commission as a second lieutenant in April 1942.
He was a B-17 instructor pilot until 1944. After that, he amassed 350 combat hours flying B-29s against the Japanese home islands from India and China.
After World War II, he spent more than three years with Strategic Air Command’s first atomic bomb organization, the 509th Bombardment Wing, at Roswell AFB, N.M. Following this, he was aide-de-camp to Gen. Curtis E. LeMay, SAC commander, for four years.
Assignments over the next decade or so took him to SAC bases across the US and to Guam and saw him in various command and planning and operations roles, including two more stints at SAC headquarters at Offutt AFB, Neb., and in August 1968 taking command of 1st Strategic Aerospace Division at Vandenberg AFB, Calif.
He led 15th Air Force at March AFB, Calif., from August 1969 to September 1972, when he assumed command of Military Airlift Command.
He was a command pilot with more than 12,000 flying hours in the B-47, B-52, B-58, KC-135, C-141, C-5, and SR-71.
TRANSCOM Plots Afghanistan Surge Support
US Transportation Command officials are focused on creating more transport capacity to support the insertion of an additional 30,000 troops and their equipment into Afghanistan by mid-2010 and on optimizing the flow of these forces, Air Force Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, TRANSCOM commander, told reporters Dec. 9 in Washington, D.C.
President Obama announced this troop surge on Dec. 1.
McNabb said Afghanistan is a “unique place,” in terms of the logistical challenges that it presents, because the nation is landlocked, with rugged terrain and very high altitudes.
The supply pipeline into the nation is limited and trying to force more men and materiel through it would only overwhelm the system, he said.
Accordingly, the best means of enabling the greater flow of forces is to create new access routes.
“You want to have options,” he said.
Currently, about one-half of all cargo destined for Afghanistan traverses two land routes through Pakistan, said McNabb. Another 30 percent of supplies travels over northern land routes from Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
The final 20 percent comes in by air, he said.
While he said he thought the US military already had the air and overland capacity to support additional troops, he was still looking to increase that capacity twofold to mitigate the effect of potential disruptions arising from issues such as severe weather or man-made factors.
As a fallback, McNabb said he wanted to be able to move everything into Afghanistan by air, if necessary.
One promising “niche” air option would be to utilize air routes that would extend from the US over the North Pole and then over parts of Russia and the Central Asian republics, directly into Afghanistan, said McNabb.
Such access would allow modern commercial freighters such as 747-400s and military C-17s to fly nonstop from the US into places such as Bagram Airfield, he said.
The US and Russia in July 2009 signed a transit agreement that allows flights through Russian airspace to Afghanistan.
Operation Enduring Freedom—Afghanistan
By Jan. 20, a total of 955 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom. The total includes 953 troops and two Department of Defense civilians. Of these deaths, 687 were killed in action with the enemy while 268 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 4,829 troops wounded in action during OEF. This number includes 2,018 who were wounded and returned to duty within 72 hours and 2,811 who were unable to return to duty quickly.
Coalition Offensive Pushes Into Uzbin Valley
A major coalition assault led by 800 French legionnaires with US special forces and Afghan soldiers, backed up by artillery and airpower, pushed into Kabul province’s Uzbin Valley in mid-December, the site of a deadly 2008 ambush where 10 French troops were killed.
Operation Septentrion began on the night of Dec. 17.
The object of the offensive, initiated after coalition troops had negotiated with local villagers for weeks, was to show militants that coalition elements could operate in enemy strongholds whenever they wanted, said Rear Adm. Christophe Prazuck, a French military spokesman.
Militants and insurgents have held one strategic portion of the valley, about 25 miles east of Kabul, known as the Sarobi District, where French troops were ambushed in August 2008 in the deadliest attack on that country’s forces since 58 of its paratroopers were killed in a bombing in 1983 in Beirut.
The coalition forces came under rocket-propelled grenade and heavy weapons fire from Taliban and militant elements within several hours of the initial advance, French officials reported.
The French responded with artillery, and US and French aircraft provided air support.
USAF F-15Es operated in the vicinity during the operation, according to Air Forces Central, and released precision munitions on enemy elements in at least one strike.
Operation Iraqi Freedom—Iraq
By Jan. 20, a total of 4,377 Americans had died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The total includes 4,364 troops and 13 Department of Defense civilians. Of these deaths, 3,478 were killed in action with the enemy while 899 died in noncombat incidents.
There have been 31,633 troops wounded in action during Operation Iraqi Freedom. This number includes 17,723 who were wounded and returned to duty within 72 hours and 13,910 who were unable to return to duty quickly.
MC-12 Fleet Reaches 1,000th Combat Mission
The Air Force’s new fleet of MC-12W intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance aircraft on Nov. 16 flew its 1,000th combat mission in Iraq.
The milestone was reached only five months after the 362nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron began operating MC-12s out of Joint Base Balad. As of mid-December, it had six MC-12s in use.
These aircraft provide invaluable real-time, full-motion overhead video and signals intelligence to ground troops inside Iraq.
According to Balad officials, the MC-12s had thus far aided in the capture of 12 high-value enemy individuals and had helped discover three weapons caches.
Further, the troops for whom they have provided overwatch had suffered zero casualties, they said.
Air Force Takes Charge of Al Asad Air Base
The Air Force held an assumption of command ceremony on Dec. 15 at Al Asad AB, Iraq, as the new commander of the 532nd Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron assumed responsibilities for the facility from the Marine Corps.
The Air Force took over the mission as part of the changes associated with the drawdown of US forces across the country.
The 532nd EOSS conducts airfield maintenance, tower control, aerial port, facility security, and other functions.
Al Asad is expected to play a critical role as an air hub in coming months as US forces are repositioned inside Iraq and are moved from it.
Daily Report: 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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