Airman Killed in Afghanistan
SSgt. Todd J. Lobraico Jr., 22, died on Sept. 5 from wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with small-arms fire near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, announced the Defense Department. He was assigned to the New York Air National Guard’s 105th Security Forces Squadron at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, N.Y.
Lobraico deployed with members of his unit to Afghanistan at the end of June, according to the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs news release.
“The New York National Guard family extends our deepest sympathy to [Lobraico’s] family and friends,” said Army Maj. Gen. Patrick A. Murphy, New York’s adjutant general. “This fine young airman had already served in a combat zone once before and knew the risks he was facing. Despite that, he did his job professionally and with courage. He will be missed by all who served with him and knew him,” said Murphy.
Lobraico enlisted in the 105th Airlift Wing as a security forces apprentice in June 2008. He is the first member of the New York Air Guard to die in a combat zone since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, according to the release.
Airman Dies in Pave Hawk Crash
TSgt. Mark A. Smith, 30, a flight engineer with the 33rd Rescue Squadron at Kadena AB, Japan, died during a training mission in early August after his HH-60 Pave Hawk rescue helicopter crashed in Okinawa’s Central Training Area, announced Kadena officials.
“Smitty was a total professional and true warrior,” said Lt. Col. Pedro Ortiz, 33rd RQS commander, in the base’s Aug. 10 news release. “He led by example and was wise beyond his young age of 30,” said Ortiz.
Smith joined the Air Force in July 2000 and arrived at Kadena in the fall of 2011, subsequently deploying twice to Afghanistan where he participated in “numerous” life-saving rescue missions, stated the release.
Emergency responders rescued the three other airmen involved in the Aug. 5 mishap; they received medical care. The cause of the crash is under investigation.
USAFE-AFAFRICA’s New Commander
Gen. Frank Gorenc assumed command of US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa during an Aug. 2 ceremony at Ramstein AB, Germany. He also became the head of NATO’s Allied Air Command.
“He is made of 100 percent pure leadership and there is no one better for this job,” said Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III during the ceremony.
Gorenc, who previously served as the Air Force’s assistant vice chief of staff, filled the leadership vacancy at USAFE-AFAFRICA created when USAF Gen. Philip M. Breedlove departed in May to head US European Command and be NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, Europe.
USAF’s Nuclear Future
The Air Force released a plan detailing how the service intends to advance and monitor the overall health of its nuclear enterprise, supporting infrastructure, and processes.
Signed by Acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and approved by the four-star-level Nuclear Oversight Board, the plan has three main sections. According to an Aug. 23 news release, the first articulates the Air Force perspective on 21st century deterrence and assurance. The second outlines five strategic vectors for the nuclear enterprise. The third explains how the NOB and the Nuclear Issues Resolution and Integration Board will oversee efforts to meet the objectives highlighted in the plan.
[Search “Air Force Nuclear Future” on www.airforcemag.com to read the full nuclear flight plan.]
Ellsworth B-1 Crash
A B-1 bomber assigned to the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., crashed mid-August near Broadus, Mont., northwest of the base, during a routine training mission.
All four crew members—two pilots and two weapon systems officers—safely ejected with some injuries, stated the wing’s news release. Col. Kevin B. Kennedy, 28th BW commander, said the first responders transported the crew to two South Dakota hospitals; none suffered life-threatening injuries, according to the Associated Press.
“No one likes to lose an aircraft. It’s bittersweet that we did,” said Kennedy. “Luckily, all four air crew are safely recovered.”
The United States, Canada, and Russia cooperatively responded to mock hijacked commercial aircraft during the live-fly portion of Vigilant Eagle 13. The exercise took place in late August over the Bering Sea.
During the exercises, aircraft surrogates were hijacked and traveled into either Russian airspace or US airspace. Canadian CF-18s and Russian Sukhois then scrambled to identify and follow the hijacked aircraft. In addition, participants practiced handing off control of an aircraft when it left each country’s airspace.
“This is a small, relatively inexpensive exercise with a huge payoff,” said Joseph C. Bonnet III, NORAD’s director of joint training and exercises.
This was the fifth iteration of the Vigilant Eagle series since 2008 and the third to incorporate a live-fly air defense component.
Balancing the Rebalance
Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Chang Wanquan said China doesn’t have a problem with the US military’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, per se, as long as the strategy is not overly focused on China.
“It is our hope that this rebalancing strategy is a constructive one that could help the peace and stability in the region,” he said on Aug. 19 during a joint press briefing at the Pentagon with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. “On the other hand, we would like to have this rebalancing strategy balanced on different countries, as well, because the essence of rebalancing—is balance.”
He cautioned against a strategy that “target[s] a specific country.”
Chang said China already is noticing a greater US presence in the region, with “the frequency and intensity” of joint military exercises “increasing” of late. These “intensified military activities” do complicate, to a certain degree, the situation in the region, he said through an interpreter. Still, Chang reiterated the Chinese view the Pacific is big enough for “two great countries.”
Philippine Basing Access
US and Philippine officials began negotiations in Manila this summer to allow US forces temporary increased access to bases and facilities in the Southeast Asian nation, reported Voice of America.
More US military visitation would allow for “high-impact and high-value exercises that will benefit both sides,” said Philippine deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte, reported the Philippine Star.
The main objectives of an agreement are to build a credible defense for the Philippines and improve disaster-response capabilities, she said. Philippine officials have made no secret of their desire for increased military ties with the United States as a bulwark against an increasingly aggressive China, which continues to press disputes with the Philippines over maritime territorial claims.
Combating Sexual Assaults
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiled seven initiatives to enhance the Defense Department’s efforts to combat sexual assault in the ranks. These measures, building on others Hagel announced in May, aim to “improve victim support, strengthen pretrial investigations, enhance oversight, and make prevention and response efforts more consistent across the military services,” said Hagel in an August statement.
The initiatives include:
Creating a legal advocacy program in each service to provide legal representation to victims;
Ensuring judge advocate general officers conduct pretrial investigative hearings;
Providing commanders options to reassign those accused of committing an offense;
Requiring timely follow-up reports on incidents and responses;
Directing DOD’s inspector general to regularly evaluate closed investigations;
Standardizing prohibitions on inappropriate behavior; and
Giving victims an opportunity to provide input during the sentencing phase of courts-martial.
Distinguished Flying Crosses
Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III presented the Distinguished Flying Cross to five members of the 33rd Rescue Squadron at Kadena AB, Japan, for their heroism in the air during a grueling and dangerous rescue mission in Afghanistan in 2012.
Recognized by Welsh on Aug. 21 for their intrepid actions in Afghanistan were: Capt. Michael H. Kingry, Capt. Gavin H. Johnson, 1st Lt. Matthew M. Pfarr, TSgt. Scott D. Lagerveld, and SrA. Robert G. Wells. These airmen were crew members of Pedro 83 and Pedro 84, two HH-60G rescue helicopters operating out of Bagram Airfield on Aug. 4, 2012. During a 7.5-hour, 320-mile mission on that day, they rescued six wounded New Zealand soldiers along with an Afghan soldier and an Afghan national, in mountainous terrain while under direct enemy fire. They also returned two coalition members killed in action.
World War II Remains Identified
Defense Department forensic scientists identified the remains of Sgt. Dominick J. Licari, 31, of Frankfort, N.Y., an airman who had been missing in action since World War II, announced the Pentagon. His burial took place with full military honors on Aug. 6 in Frankfort, reported the Utica Observer-Dispatch.
Licari was a crew member on an A-20G Havoc bomber that crashed in the mountains of what is today Papua New Guinea on March 13, 1944, after attacking Japanese targets, according to the Pentagon’s Aug. 2 news release. Investigators excavated the crash site in 2012, recovering Licari’s remains, along with those of his crewmate, 2nd Lt. Valorie L. Pollard, stated the release.
DOD scientists used circumstantial evidence and forensic means such as dental comparisons and mitochondrial DNA to help identify Licari.
The War on Terrorism
Operation Enduring Freedom
CasualtiesAs of Sept. 18, 2013, a total of 2,269 Americans had died in Operation Enduring Freedom. The total includes 2,266 troops and three Department of Defense civilians. Of these deaths, 1,783 were killed in action, while 486 died in noncombat incidents. There have been 19,310 troops wounded in OEF.
Pressing On Afghan military forces have proved themselves capable in combat, but US and NATO forces are still necessary to suppress the threat of al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in the region, said Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the top US and NATO general in Afghanistan. “Over the past few years, Afghan forces have become increasingly competent, capable, and credible,” said Dunford on Aug. 8 in a speech he gave via video teleconference from Kabul to the Reserve Officers Association’s National Security Symposium in Washington, D.C. Dunford said the Afghans should be able to maintain security once the NATO combat mission ends in Afghanistan on Dec. 31, 2014. However, Dunford said he was concerned with the results of a recent poll that found the majority of Americans surveyed think the war in Afghanistan was not worth fighting, while nearly half believe all US forces should come home in the next year. “We still have 60,000 men and women in uniform in harm’s way, and the American people need to understand why they are here, what they are doing, and what they are trying to accomplish,” he said. Afghans Show Muscle
The Afghan Air Force participated with Afghan army units in the largest Afghan-led combat operation in three decades, according to an Air Forces Central Command news release. Operation Seemorgh, launched last July, was meant to clear the Azrah and Hezarak districts of Taliban insurgents, according to the Aug. 8 news release. Two AAF Mi-35s and six Mi-17s participated in the operation’s first wave supporting ground forces. “This was the first completely autonomous Afghan Air Force troop insertion in support of a major operation,” said Army Capt. Tom Jones, team lead for the 438th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron’s Kabul Air Wing partnership. “While the AAF has conducted other troop insertions and air assaults before, they would use coalition support; this time it was done all on their own,” he said.Both Afghan airmen and coalition advisors considered the operation a success, although it was “not complete,” stated the release. “The AAF has demonstrated they have the fortitude to fight for their country and their homeland, and that’s something to be proud of,” said Jones.New Mi-17s for AAF
The Afghan Air Force took delivery of three new Mi-17 helicopters at the Kabul Airport, according to a news release from NATO air advisors. The three helicopters arrived disassembled on Sept. 1 in the belly of a Russian Antonov An-124 transport that brought them directly from the manufacturer. They are the first of 12 new Mi-17s that the Afghans are expected to receive in the span of a few months, according to the September release. “The significance of having these aircraft is each unit will have helicopters with only one variation,” said Maj. Greg Douglas, deputy commander of NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan’s J4-M organization. “This streamlines the process for maintenance, operations, and training."
Gen. John W. Pauly, 1923-2013
Retired Gen. John W. Pauly, former commander in chief of US Air Forces in Europe, died on Aug. 7 in Colorado Springs, Colo., at the age of 90. Pauly led USAFE from August 1978 to August 1980, retiring from the service after that assignment. Born in Albany, N.Y., in 1923, Pauly entered West Point in 1942, receiving his commission and pilot wings three years later, according to his official Air Force biography. During the Korean War, Pauly was assigned to the 8th Bombardment Squadron and flew 55 combat missions in the B-26 bomber, amassing 230 combat flying hours. Pauly served in a NATO assignment in 1956 with 4th Allied Tactical Air Force in Germany as an operations officer within the Bombardment Division and executive officer for the deputy chief of staff of operations. He later returned to the US, assigned to Headquarters USAF in July 1959 as a planning and programming officer in the directorate of plans until 1962, when he became the assistant executive officer to Gen. Curtis E. LeMay, then Chief of Staff. Several years after leaving the Air Force, Pauly became chief executive officer of Systems Control Technology in Palo Alto, Calif., according to his obituary in the Colorado Springs Gazette.
Iraq's Evolving Role
While Iraq continues to struggle with internal threats, its security relationship with the United States has evolved since the end of Operation New Dawn in December 2011. Today, the only presence of US troops in the country is via the Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq, which coordinates military ties and exchanges as well as foreign military sales. In addition to building up Iraq’s security forces, the United States has also worked with the Iraqi government to bolster its military investment in assets geared more for external defense. The Iraqis are acquiring F-16s, and on Aug. 5 the Pentagon announced a proposed package of short- and medium-range missiles, radars, and infrastructure associated with a revamped integrated air defense system, worth some $2.4 billion. “As the security environment evolves, we are adapting to it, and we want to ensure that [OSC-I] matures,” said USAF Brig. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, US Central Command’s deputy director of operations, during an Aug. 6 interview. He said CENTCOM wants to give the Iraqis opportunities and training that can “broaden the aperture” so they not only support internal security but also integrate into activities with the Gulf Cooperation Council and other countries. [For more coverage of Harrigian’s interview check out www.airforcemag.com’s archives: “Access and Denial in the Arabian Gulf” and “Rebalancing Engagement in CENTCOM’s Area.”]
—Marc V. Schanz
While China’s J-20 and J-31 stealth fighter programs represent a significant leap forward for the Chinese, observers differ as to whether these programs pose a serious threat to the United States.
According to the Pentagon’s recently released China report, China’s stealth aircraft are not expected to be operational before 2018. However, Richard Fisher Jr., senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center in Washington, D.C., said the technology gap that once separated the US and China has narrowed considerably since pictures of the J-20 first surfaced in 2011.
“Both programs and their successors ... represent an attempt by China to match and exceed the United States,” Fisher said. “China is not going to settle for parity. Like any great power, China wants its military to be superior.”
His comments come in the wake of the release of the Pentagon’s 2013 annual report on China’s military and security developments. It stated that China was developing its stealth fighters to “improve its regional airpower projection capabilities and strengthen its ability to strike regional air bases and facilities.”
Fisher believes China’s military capability could eclipse that of the United States by the end of the next decade. The fifth generation fighter programs, he said, are “one part of a much larger program to build a globally powerful military capability and eventually to build a globally dominant military capability.”
Other observers seem more ambivalent about them.
Mark Stokes, executive director of the Project 2049 Institute in Washington, D.C., said, “It’s not clear exactly what the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] is doing and what effect a new fighter would have on air defense systems in the region.” He also noted that China’s aviation industry has tended to be problematic, though he too acknowledged the advances in China’s military technology.
Gen. David C. Jones, 1921-2013Retired Gen. David C. Jones, who served as Air Force Chief of Staff and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the Carter and Reagan Administrations, died Aug. 10 at the age of 92.
Though he served in three wars, Jones was best known and most effective as an organizer and administrator, supervising major efficiency and modernization efforts within USAF. As commander of US Air Forces in Europe, he streamlined that organization and created the integrated air headquarters for NATO’s central region.
Near the end of his chairmanship of the JCS, Jones told Congress the US military needed an organizational overhaul, because it was suffering from an incoherent chain of command and wasting resources on duplicative service efforts. His comments marked the beginning of a four-year campaign, taken up by members of Congress, that ultimately resulted in the Goldwater-Nichols reforms of 1986.
Born in Aberdeen, S.D., Jones grew up in Minot, N.D. He attended what is now Minot State University but dropped out in 1942 to join the Army Air Corps, and during World War II was a Stateside instructor pilot; he never finished his college degree. Transitioning to bombers, he flew 300 missions during the Korean War, then shifted to the brand-new mission of strategic air refueling. From 1955 to 1957, he served as aide to Gen. Curtis E. LeMay during the buildup of Strategic Air Command. Jones subsequently held a variety of command assignments in USAFE and Vietnam, along the way earning a fighter pilot rating.
As Chief of Staff from 1974 to 1978, Jones led USAF through the transition to the all-volunteer force. During the post-Vietnam defense funding cuts and the days of the “hollow force,” he managed to keep the F-15, F-16, and A-10 programs on track.
He was less successful with preserving the B-1, a project that he, as a LeMay-mentored bomber general, had championed. When Jimmy Carter was elected President in 1976, having campaigned that he would cancel the B-1, Jones managed to win a temporary reprieve for the bomber. After six months, however, Carter killed the B-1, and Jones was vilified by pro-defense members of Congress for acceding to the order. Some—such as Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina—openly charged that Jones had traded compliance with the B-1 decision for a promotion to be Chairman of the JCS in 1978.
In a later oral history, Jones said when the President makes a decision, “we salute smartly, and we … try not to undermine that decision.” He believed it would be “totally inappropriate” to resign over the issue, as hardliners urged, and said such a move would threaten the principles of civilian control over the military. Jones had witnessed the failed campaign to stop Robert S. McNamara’s cancellation of the XB-70 and felt it would hurt the Air Force to wage a similar futile effort over the B-1.
He did succeed in getting Carter to approve beefing up strategic forces—particularly with the mobile M-X missile—in exchange for the Joint Chiefs’ support for the second Strategic Arms Limitation Talks treaty. In secret, he also facilitated development of stealth technology and launched what would become the B-2 stealth bomber program, in lieu of the B-1. Jones helped keep the SALT II treaty process alive when Ronald Reagan was elected and considered dropping it.
Jones was Chairman during the failed April 24, 1980, combined-force raid to free the American hostages in Iran, which he felt was hampered by poor communication and cooperation between the services. He accepted the uncertainties of the operation, saying “we better be willing to take risks” or the country would fail to act militarily when it should.
His frustration with service infighting over the Iran operation hardened his resolve that the military—particularly the roles of the Joint Chiefs and regional commanders—had to be restructured.
Testifying on the defense budget in early 1982, Jones broke from prepared testimony and urged a reorganization “which will allow us to develop the proper strategy, necessary planning, and full warfighting capability.” He added that “we do not have an adequate organizational structure today.”
The JCS, Jones said, was “basically a committee” requiring unanimous agreement to act. Any one service had a “de facto veto” over any recommendation to the President. He further noted there were “few rewards” for officers who served in joint billets—he suggested such duty be essential for promotion—and pushed for greater authority for the JCS Chairman and regional commanders. He promised to work with the civilian leadership on improving the situation and introduce “legislative proposals” to codify them.
Not much happened with Jones’ proposals during his remaining time as JCS Chairman, but he laid out a blueprint for the needed changes in the New York Times Magazine in November of that year, after his retirement. In the article, he fleshed out his restructuring ideas, including creation of a JCS vice chairman position. While other top Pentagon leaders initially rejected these proposals, Jones’ recommendations gathered momentum and were ultimately codified in the Goldwater-Nichols Act.
In retirement, Jones served on the boards of the Air Force Association, American Red Cross, General Electric, USAir, and US Steel, as well as on the Council on Foreign Relations.
—John A. Tirpak
Senior Staff Changes
RETIREMENTS: Lt. Gen. Michael C. Gould, Lt. Gen. Douglas H. Owens, Maj. Gen. Mark W. Graper, Maj. Gen. Charles W. Lyon, Maj. Gen. William N. McCasland, Maj. Gen. Kimberly A. Siniscalchi, Maj. Gen. Alfred J. Stewart, Maj. Gen. Everett H. Thomas, Maj. Gen. Suzanne M. Vautrinot, Brig. Gen. Dana H. Born, Brig. Gen. James S. Browne, Brig. Gen. Richard A. Klumpp Jr. CHANGES:Brig. Gen. John L. Dolan, from Cmdr., 451st AEW, ACC, Kandahar, Afghanistan, to Asst. Dep. Cmdr., US Air Forces Central, Shaw AFB, S.C. ... Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Geary, from Dep. to the DCS, Intel., Intl. Security Assistance Force, CENTCOM, Kabul, Afghanistan, to Dir., Intel., SOUTHCOM, Miami ... Brig. Gen. Veralinn Jamieson, from Spec. Asst. to DCS, Intel., Surveillance, & Recon, USAF, Pentagon, to Dir., Intel., ACC, JB Langley-Eustis, Va. ... Lt. Gen. James M. Kowalski, from Cmdr., AFGSC, Barksdale AFB, La., to Dep. Cmdr., STRATCOM, Offutt AFB, Neb. ... Brig. Gen. Bradford J. Shwedo, from Dir., Intel., ACC, JB Langley-Eustis, Va., to Dir., Cap. & Resource Integration, CYBERCOM, Fort Meade, Md. ... Brig. Gen. John S. Shapland, Spec. Asst. to the Cmdr., 3rd AF, USAFE-AFAFRICA, Ramstein AB, Germany, to Sr. Defense Official and Defense Attaché, Tel Aviv, Israel ... Brig. Gen. Jacqueline D. Van Ovost, from Vice Cmdr., USAF Expeditionary Center, AMC, Travis AFB, Calif., to Dep. Dir., Politico-Mil. Affairs, Europe, Jt. Staff, Pentagon ... Maj. Gen. (sel.) Scott A. Vander Hamm, from Dir., Plans, Prgms., Rqmts., & Assessments, AETC, JBSA-Randolph, Tex., to Cmdr., 8th AF, AFGSC, Barksdale AFB, La. ... Maj. Gen. Stephen W. Wilson, from Cmdr., 8th AF, Barksdale AFB, La., to Cmdr., AFGSC, Barksdale AFB, La.n
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.
Daily Report: Read the day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
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