TYR Tactical

Archive for the ‘Air Force’ Category

What is The Air National Guard Trying To Say?

Sunday, August 12th, 2018

This Air National Guard photo by TSgt Daniel Ter Haar, was intended to inform Guard members about the upcoming switch from the Airman Battle Uniform in Digital Tiger Stripe to the Army Combat Uniform in the Operational Camouflage Pattern. If a picture tells a thousand words, this one didn’t transmit the intended message.

TSgt John Chapman to Posthumously Receive Medal Of Honor for Actions During Battle of Takur Gar

Saturday, July 28th, 2018

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. (AFNS) — The White House announced July 27, 2018, that Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Chapman will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor Aug. 22, for his extraordinary heroism during the Battle of Takur Ghar, Afghanistan, in March 2002.

According to the Medal of Honor nomination, Chapman distinguished himself on the battlefield through “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity,” sacrificing his life to preserve those of his teammates.

Making it look easy

Chapman enlisted in the Air Force Sept. 27, 1985, as an information systems operator, but felt called to be part of Air Force special operations. In 1989, he cross-trained to become an Air Force combat controller.

According to friends and family, Chapman had a tendency to make the difficult look effortless, and consistently sought new challenges. Dating back to his high school days, he made the varsity soccer squad as a freshman. Also an avid muscle-car enthusiast, he rebuilt and maintained an old Pontiac GTO.

Combat control would prove to be another instance of “making it look easy.”

Combat control training is more than two years long and amongst the most rigorous in the U.S. military. Only about one in ten Airmen who start the program graduate.

From months of rigorous physical fitness training to multiple joint schools – including military SCUBA, Army static-line and freefall, air traffic control, and combat control schools – Chapman is remembered as someone who could do anything put in front of him.

“One remembers two types of students – the sharp ones and the really dull ones – and Chapman was in the sharp category,” said Ron Childress, a former Combat Control School instructor.

Combat Control School is one of the most difficult points of a combat controller’s training program, from completing arduous tasks without sleeping for days, to running miles with weighted rucksacks and a gas mask.

“During one of his first days at Combat Control School, I noticed a slight smirk on his face like [the training] was too simple for him…and it was,” said Childress.

Following Combat Control School, Chapman served with the 1721st Combat Control Squadron at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, where he met his wife, Valerie, in 1992. They had two daughters, who were the center of Chapman’s world even when he was away from home – which was common in the combat control career field.

“He would come home from a long trip and immediately have on his father hat – feeding, bathing, reading and getting his girls ready for bed,” said Chief Master Sgt. Michael West, who served with Chapman through Combat Control School, a three-year tour in Okinawa, Japan, and at Pope AFB. “They were his life and he was proud of them…to the Air Force he was a great hero…what I saw was a great father.”

The Battle of Takur Ghar

In conjunction with Operation Anaconda in March 2002, small reconnaissance teams were tasked to establish observation posts in strategic locations in Afghanistan, and when able, direct U.S. air power to destroy enemy targets. The mountain of Takur Ghar was an ideal spot for such an observation post, with excellent visibility to key locations.

For Chapman and his joint special operations teammates, the mission on the night of March 3 was to establish a reconnaissance position on Takur Ghar and report al-Qaida movement in the Sahi-Kowt area.

“This was very high profile, no-fail job, and we picked John,” said retired Air Force Col. Ken Rodriguez, Chapman’s commander at the time. “In a very high-caliber career field, with the highest quality of men – even then – John stood out as our guy.”

During the initial insertion onto Afghanistan’s Takur Ghar mountaintop on March 4, the MH-47 “Chinook” helicopter carrying Chapman and the joint special operations reconnaissance team was ambushed. A rocket propelled grenade struck the helicopter and bullets ripped through the fuselage. The blast ripped through the left side of the Chinook, throwing Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Neil Roberts off the ramp of the helicopter onto the enemy-infested mountaintop below.

The severely damaged aircraft was unable to return for Roberts, and performed a controlled crash landing a few miles from the mountaintop. Thus began the chain of events that led to unparalleled acts of valor by numerous joint special operations forces, the deaths of seven
U.S. servicemen and now, 16 years later, posthumous award of the Medal of Honor to Chapman.

Alone, against the elements and separated from his team with enemy personnel closing in, Roberts was in desperate need of support. The remaining joint special operations team members, fully aware of his precarious situation, immediately began planning a daring rescue attempt that included returning to the top of Takur Ghar where they had just taken heavy enemy fire.

As the team returned to Roberts’ last-known position, now on a second MH-47, the entrenched enemy forces immediately engaged the approaching helicopter with heavy fire.

Miraculously, the helicopter, although heavily damaged, was able to successfully offload the remaining special operations team members and return to base. Chapman, upon exiting the helicopter, immediately charged uphill through the snow toward enemy positions while under heavy fire from three directions.

Once on the ground, the team assessed the situation and moved quickly to the high ground. The most prominent cover and concealment on the hilltop were a large rock and tree. As they approached the tree, Chapman received fire from two enemy personnel in a fortified position. He returned fire, charged the enemy position and took out the enemy combatants within.

Almost immediately, the team began taking machine gun fire from another fortified enemy position only 12 meters away. Chapman deliberately moved into the open to engage the new enemy position. As he heroically engaged the enemy, he was struck by a burst of gunfire and became critically injured.

Chapman regained his faculties and continued to fight relentlessly despite his severe wounds. He sustained a violent engagement with multiple enemy fighters, for over an hour through the arrival of the quick reaction force, before paying the ultimate sacrifice. In performance of these remarkably heroic actions, Chapman is credited with saving the lives of his teammates.

The upgrade to MOH

“John was always selfless – it didn’t just emerge on Takur Ghar – he had always been selfless and highly competent, and thank God for all those qualities,” said Rodriguez. “He could have hunkered down in the bunker and waited for the (Quick Reaction Force) and (Combat Search and Rescue) team to come in, but he assessed the situation and selflessly gave his life for them.”

Chapman was originally awarded the Air Force Cross for his actions; however, following a review of Air Force Cross and Silver Star recipients directed by then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, the secretary of the Air Force recommended Chapman’s Air Force Cross be upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

In accordance with Air Force policy whereby Medal of Honor recipients are automatically promoted one grade on the first day of the month following the award, Chapman will be posthumously promoted to the rank of master sergeant on Sept. 1, 2018.

Although Chapman will be awarded the Medal of Honor, family and friends have expressed his humility and how he would react today, if he were here.

“If John were to find out he received the Medal of Honor, he would be very humbled and honored,” said Chief Master Sergeant West. “He was just doing his job, and that’s what he would say at this moment.”

His widow, Valerie Nessel, has always known her husband was capable of such greatness, but asserts that John wouldn’t be anxious to be in the spotlight.

“[John] would want to recognize the other men that lost their lives,” said Valerie. “Even though he did something he was awarded the Medal of Honor for, he would not want the other guys to be forgotten – that they were part of the team together.”

“I think he would say that his Medal of Honor was not just for him, but for all of the guys who were lost,” she added.

In total, seven service members lost their lives during the Battle of Takur Ghar:
Petty Officer 1st Class Neil Roberts – U.S. Navy SEAL
Tech. Sgt. John Chapman – U.S. Air Force combat control
Senior Airman Jason Cunningham – U.S. Air Force pararescue
Cpl. Matthew Commons – U.S. Army Ranger
Sgt. Bradley Crose – U.S. Army Ranger
Spc. Marc Anderson – U.S. Army Ranger
Sgt. Philip Svitak – U.S. Army 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment

“John would have, so I’ll say it for him. Every American who set foot on that mountaintop acted with great courage and selflessness, and deserves all of our praise and admiration for the sacrifices they made,” said Rodriguez.

By Staff Sgt. Ryan Conroy, 24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

Air Force Recruiters Learn About Innovations for Next-Gen Special Ops

Sunday, July 22nd, 2018


For the first time in the Defense Department, a series of career field specialties is using human performance monitoring and a data collection system, as well as specialized recruiters.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Jette undergoes a body composition measurement test at the 350th Battlefield Airman Training Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas June 28, 2018. Jette is a special operations recruiter based in Fresno, Calif. DoD photo by EJ Hersom

Because of high attrition rates in its special operations career fields — pararescue, combat controller, tactical air control party and special operations weather technicians — the Air Force stood up the 350th Battlefield Airman Training Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, and the 330th Recruiting Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph in Texas. Recruiters also focus on the special operations support career fields: survival, evasion and resistance and explosive ordnance disposal.

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Josh Smith, the special warfare preparatory course superintendent for the 350th BATS, has been a pararescueman, or PJ, for 25 years. He said his team was tasked to stand up the squadron within 121 days. They shadowed the Army’s and Navy’s special operations programs and used their best practices to model this new program, he said.

The team received “amazing support” from Naval Special Warfare at Great Lakes Naval Training Command in Illinois, Smith said. “And we’re using the same contract for our coaches, so some of their staff could help us set up the program here,” he added. “It’s been an amazing partnership between the two organizations.”

Pilot Course

On June 5, 2017, the first battlefield airmen preparatory pilot course ran through its first eight-week iteration. Smith said the course’s goal is to “create a program focused on creating that fitter, faster, stronger, more mentally resilient warfighter.”

He said one area the Navy would like to increase training on is psychology. “We really try to focus on that communication, team building, the character tributes of leader, integrity, professionalism, trainability and teaching them how to improve in those areas,” Smith said. “This generation knows how to text, but they need to work on communication.”

Smith said the team was tasked to improve production by 10 percent, but were able to improve it by 20 percent overall. They were able to eliminate the two-week pararescue development course, and tactical air control party candidates went from a 30 percent graduation rate to 66 percent.

Air Force Maj. Heath Kerns, 330th Recruiting Squadron commander and a special tactics officer, said the squadron pulled recruiters from 27 different squadrons across the Air Force who showed an aptitude and interest as well as other qualifications to head up this new squadron, specializing in recruiting for the three Air Force special forces career fields and its support career fields.

“Instead of worrying about 160 jobs, [our battlefield airmen recruiters] can get really smart on six jobs,” Kerns said.

The Air Force has learned that potential special operations recruits are not motivated in the same ways as recruits from the larger force, he explained. “They don’t care about the benefits or the money. They care about the challenge,” Kerns said.

“I wanted to know, ‘What’s the hardest thing in the world I could do?’ I wanted to become the most elite [and] challenge myself in the worst ways possible,” he said of his own motivation.

Kerns said the recruiters’ mission is to scout, develop and guide the future warriors for their combat calling. With this new program, the recruiters work hand-in-hand with the squadron ahead of time and have developers, retired operators, who will work with the recruits to make sure they can pass the physical training test and be ready for battlefield airmen prep before arrival.

Recruiter Training

To help recruiters understand what the course is like, about 90 of them attended a one-week version of the course, June 25-29.

“This week has been excellent training. Simple things like you normally swim with goggles, but now you have a face mask fogging up, and your nose isn’t used to having dead space, so it’s trying to breathe in but it’s not [able to],” Kerns said. “We can now absolutely understand that even though my applicant passed the test well in a different environment, he may show up here and freak out and his score may look bad. We understand the process now because we’ve lived it. It’s going to change the way our recruiters go back and work with the candidates.”

He said having the partnership with the active-duty community has also been helpful. “I reach out to my brothers and tell them, ‘If you want me to replace you with quality people, I need you to provide these things.’ It’s been a great partnership,” Kerns said.

A computer displays up to 300 data points monitoring the strengths and weaknesses of Air Force special operations recruiters during an after-midnight ruck march at the 350th Battlefield Airman Training Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, June 28, 2018. DoD photo by EJ Hersom

Recruiters are critical because they’re the first contact with candidates, Smith said. “If they’re not sending the correct candidates,” he added, “that will affect the capabilities of what will be produced out of this program.”

Cutting-Edge Technology

The squadron uses many cutting-edge innovative technology systems. By January, the squadron will have a 55,000-square-foot smart gym with an indoor track with an LED lighted system called a rabbit. The gym will know when the students enter via a chip in their smart watches. The cardio equipment will read the chips as well. The weight equipment will have tablets with video cameras where the students will type in their student number and record their workout, and then the coaches will critique and send them a message if they did anything wrong in their techniques.

The squadron is the first in DoD to use a digital functional movement screening called DARI for all candidates. The camera system identifies joint mobility and strength imbalances of 28 movement patterns.

The first class had 14 candidates who were identified to be at high risk for injury, Smith said, and within 10 training days, 12 of the 14 were injured in the way the computer had predicted. “For the next class, for those identified, we gave them homework,” he said. “They wear these compression shirts and shorts that link to their tablets to show that they’re doing the exercises for accountability. The injuries went down.”

The students wear a harness with a Zephyr biomodule sensor, which measures their core body temperature throughout the day, as well as 44 individual post-training event data analytics that provide in-depth understanding of individual and group data on heart rates, calorie burns, estimated core temperatures, physiological and mechanical training. It provides feedback on windows of trainability in endurance, speed, power, strength and coordination.

The squadron’s dietician is working with Google to implement an automated process of determining a candidate’s food consumption by providing a machine-learning vision system to digitally track food. It will compare a trainee’s performance calorie burn before and after meals for nutritional intake of actual calories consumed by taking a photo of the plate of food before and after the meal. The subject matter expert can address the disparities, Smith said.


The most successful technology has been tracking omegawaves, Smith said. It directly assesses the central nervous system, direct current potential, autonomic regulation of the heart and heart rate variability and the cardiac system through and electrocardiogram. It provides feedback on windows of trainability in endurance, speed and power and strength and coordination.

The staff uses all of this technology, as well as contrast therapy, massage, cold tanks, movie theaters, a recreation room, hydrotherapy and float tanks for recovery and down time for the candidates.

Air Force Master Sgt. Maria Teresa Pineda and other special operations recruiters carry a large bag filled with sand during a class that allows recruiters to experience the 350th Battlefield Airman Training Squadron preparatory course at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in San Antonio, Texas, June 28, 2018. The ruck march and sand bag carry began at 2 a.m. and is one of the many challenges presented by the squadron to help recruiters understand what their recruits endure. DoD photo by EJ Hersom

The coaches and staff consist of nutritionists, psychologists, a physician assistant, athletic trainers, medics and many more who have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Most of them have a master’s degree in some type of exercise physiology and multiple certified strength and conditioning credentials, and some are Level 2 and 3 Crossfit instructors.

Some of the coaches are former National Football League and National Hockey League players, one was on the U.S. Olympic swim team, and NASA’s lead strength coach just applied to be a part of the program.

“I have the most amazing group of individuals who are the most brilliant minds throughout their different modalities,” Smith said. “This is what makes this program so successful.”

One instructor, who’s ranked in the top 100 in the world for the freestyle in swimming, even enlisted to become a combat controller and is now at Air Force basic training, Smith said.

Isaiah Harris, a former Atlanta Falcons linebacker, worked with the Chicago Bears for eight years and would take the players over to the Naval Special Warfare Team program at Great Lakes. He said all the coaches work together as a team to make sure each candidate is ready for graduation.

“The dietitian, that’s our student’s fuel, the mobility strength and conditioning coach, he ensures they’re ready to perform at the highest level at each evolution,” he said. “Administration, there’s so much paperwork that goes into each of our students. We all work together just like they will work with the Army, Navy, different embassies as our battlefield airmen.”

Maximizing Human Performance

“We all come from different backgrounds, and we [use a] best evidence, expertise approach and take the human performance broader spectrum and just max and optimize that for the students and operator staff here,” said Air Force Maj. Sean Wilson, 350th BATS human performance flight commander and physical therapist. “I know what to look for in the training because I’ve been with the operators downrange in combat. We maximize our rehab skills to get them back into training quicker. These guys are the root of our national defense.”

Taylor Starch, who has worked with professional NFL players, teaches the first DoD stand-alone mobility curriculum.

“Instead of someone getting to the age of 32 and they can’t bend over and touch their toes or they have so much pain and they have to see a chiropractor every day, I’m giving them a system they can take to their family and friends or units,” he said. “They can use it to take care of themselves the rest of their lives. This increases longevity of the force and makes sure these guys get fit, get strong, get mentally tough. But we don’t break them in the process, so they don’t spend their later years in pain. This helps increase healthy joints.”

“These candidates are a human weapons system, and they’re considered as such here,” said Patrick Wilson, program manager for innovations. He is a former career field manager for the Air Force’s security forces and co-creator of the battlefield airman concept.

“They are a weapon, and just like making sure my weapon was cleaned down range, the food you put into your body, the water you drink, the sleep you get, the technology we give you and how you leverage that and understanding your body and how it works [are all important],” he said. “The Air Force is breaking ground … through an investment in all these areas. It’s already starting to show a result, and it’s only going to get better. We are constantly improving our game. The results five years from now are going to be amazing.”

From the coaches to the subject matter experts and recruiters, Smith said the team continues to learn and reduce attrition rates by building a fitter, faster, stronger and more mentally resilient battlefield airman.

“We’re taking a holistic approach to it from the day they walk into the recruiter’s office until the day they graduate and walk across the stage with their beret,” he said. “At no point have we ever looked at this process in this way before, and that’s why this is becoming a more successful change in movement.”

By Shannon Collins  |  DoD News, Defense Media Activity

“Special Air Warfare Forces”

Sunday, July 22nd, 2018

“Special Air Warfare Forces” is a 1965 US Air Force film about its fledgling Air Commando force.

100th Air Force Uniform Board Results Update AFI 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Based on results of the 100th Air Force Uniform Board, the Air Force announced a series of uniform updates to Air Force Instruction 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel, effective July 13, 2018.

According to a release by Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs,notable changes include:

Grooming and Appearance Standards

– No minimum hair length for females, but up to a maximum bulk of three-and-half inches from scalp, allowing for proper wear of headgear.
– Females are also authorized locs, which must be lightly fused or interwoven to present a neat, professional appearance.

Dress Uniform

– All enlisted personnel may wear three-and-a-half inch or four-inch chevrons.
– All or some ribbons and devices may be worn on service dress uniform.
– All, some or no ribbons and devices may be worn on blue service uniform.

Outer Garments, Headgear, Rank Insignia and Accessories

– While off duty in civilian clothes males are authorized to wear earrings on or off installation.
– Females are authorized to wear round or square white diamond, gold, white pearl or silver earrings as a set with any uniform combination.
– Eyeglasses and sunglasses may have a small logo that can contrast with frame color or lenses. Conservative, clear, slightly tinted or photosensitive lenses are also authorized.
– Airmen may wear either a sling style backpack or two strap backpack.
– Handbags for all uniform combinations will be solid black leather or vinyl without ornamentation with black or white stitching.

Physical Training Gear

– Short- and long-sleeved solid white, black or light gray form fitting undershirts may be worn and visible under the short-sleeved shirt.
– A balaclava (black) may now be worn with PT gear while performing physical fitness activities outdoors.

For the complete list of changes, with lts of info on the transition to OCP, visit: static.e-publishing.af.mil/production/1/af_a1/publication/afi36-2903/afi36-2903

USAF Activates Recruiting Squadron Specifically For Battlefield Airman

Saturday, July 14th, 2018

The first squadron focused solely on recruiting Battlefield Airmen and combat support career fields stood up recently in a ceremony at the Medina Annex on Joint Base San Antonio – Lackland.

The reactivation of the 330th Recruiting Squadron, U.S. Air Force Recruiting’s 28th squadron, marks the first time in Air Force history that a unit will be dedicated to recruiting men and women for hard-to-fill positions within special operations and combat support roles.

The reactivation began with members of the Battlefield Airmen Training Group and the 330th RCS freefalling into the ceremony with the squadron guidon and the American Flag. Col. Ron Stenger, BATG commander and a special tactics officer, passed the guidon to Col. Robert Trayers, AFRS vice commander, and former commander of the 330th RCS when it was deactivated back in 2009.

Following the jump, members of the 330th RCS participated in memorial pushups at the Lt. Col. William Schroeder Memorial.

“Memorial pushups are a tradition in our community to recognize and honor our fallen comrades,” said Master Sgt. Benjamin Hannigan, a liaison to AFRS from the 24th Special Operations Wing. “They are usually done after strenuous physical activity, because our fallen comrades did more than their physical body could. Our physical sacrifice of remembrance could never match up to their sacrifice.”

Shortly after the memorial pushups, the official party moved into the Lt. Col. Schroeder Auditorium for the assumption of command ceremony. Trayers provided remarks about the squadron’s heritage.

“It’s great to be able to reactivate this squadron with a great team and new leaders,” Trayers said. “You now have the important responsibility of recruiting the folks you want at the tip of the spear of our nation.”

The reason for activating the 330th RCS was to overcome the challenges of recruiting and training Battlefield Airmen, said Trayers.

Since the standup of the BATG in 2016 to the beginning of the current prep course, this activation completes the span between recruiting and training in the of the revolutionary new Special Operations recruiting model.

“What you see before you is an Air Force Chief of Staff directed fix to a 21 year problem,” said Maj. Heath Kerns, 330th RCS commander after receiving the guidon from Trayers. “Our squadron is exclusively focused on scouting, developing and guiding future Battlefield Airmen and combat support warriors to their combat calling.”

Kerns comes to AFRS with more than a decade of experience as a special tactics officer. The 330th RCS is designed to recruit and access the next generation of Special Operations Airmen and combat support forces, which include combat controllers, pararescuemen, special operations weathermen, tactical air control party, survival evasion resistance and escape (SERE), and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD).

According to Kerns, this recruiting squadron is necessary because you cannot mass produce special operators.

“The old model of taking someone off the street to recruit for the Battlefield Airmen pipeline showed a 90 percent attrition rate,” he said. “Out of 100 people, only 10 would make it. This was not only a challenge for the recruiting force to have such low numbers on a high level of candidates, but also a large monetary cost for the Air Force itself.”

Previously, a trainee would be assessed and trained by traditional recruiters, attend Basic Military Training, then begin the indoctrination course. Now, recruiters of the 330th RCS train and access potential candidates alongside contract developers, who are retired service members with experience in special operations and combat support roles.

Master Sgt. Richard Geren, a 330th RCS flight chief for the Texas area, spoke on the importance of selecting the right candidates for Battlefield Airmen and combat support missions.

“First, we make sure they are qualified for the Air Force,” Geren said. “Once we know they are qualified, we see if they are a good fit to become a Battlefield Airman.”

According to Geren, a good fit includes the right mindset, attitude and understanding of the demands of the Battlefield Airmen career fields.

“I want to sit down with every person to explain the ins and outs of every single job we are recruiting for,” he said. “I also want to share stories and examples of what a pararescueman or combat controller’s worst day might be. It’s not all Hollywood and cool gear. It’s about hard work, determination and teamwork.”

Similarly, recruiters took a unique approach to understanding the career fields they seek candidates for by immersing themselves in to Battlefield Airmen training. Kerns commended the squadron for attending the week-long indoctrination before activing the squadron and then closed the ceremony by speaking directly to the 330th RCS members.

“We will become an audacious display of innovation and collaboration,” he said. “We will succeed in bringing the highest quality of warriors the Air Force and the world has ever seen. You embody these qualities; they are forged through a pursuit of personal excellence and enduring great challenge so that you can inspire young men and women to follow you to their combat calling.”

Air Education and Training Command

Air Force Special Operations Command

Become A Special Operations Tactical Air Control Party Airman

Saturday, July 14th, 2018

Do you have what it takes? The Air Force’s Special Operations Tactical Air Control Party Airmen, or SOF TACPs, are ground special operators who direct air power on the battlefield. Specifically, these Airmen call in air and ground strikes while embedded with a special forces team, such as the Army Rangers or Navy SEALs. These SOF TACPs are selected from the conventional TACP force to integrate air and ground in Air Force Special Tactics, with only 5% of TACPs serving in special operations. The majority of SOF TACPs are assigned to the 17th Special Tactics Squadron, who have been continuously deployed “outside the wire” since 9/11.

AFSOC Public Affairs Team

Belleville Boot OCP Boot Transition Guide For Airmen

Friday, July 13th, 2018

SSD Sponsor Belleville Boot, created this handy OCP boot transition guide for USAF personnel.