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Col Matt Allen Assumes Command of 24th SOW – The Air Force’s Sole Special Tactics Wing

Wednesday, June 26th, 2019

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. – U.S. Air Force Col Matt S. Allen, a Special Tactics Officer, assumed command of the 24th Special Operations Wing during a ceremony at 10 a.m., June 24 at Hurlburt Field, Florida.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, presided over the ceremony.

The 24th SOW is the only Special Tactics wing in the U.S. Air Force. The primary mission of the wing is to provide Special Tactics forces for rapid global employment to conduct global air, space, and cyber-enabled special operations across the spectrum of conflict to prepare for, fight, and win our nation’s wars. The 24th SOW is U.S. Special Operations Command’s tactical air/ground integration force and the Air Force’s special operations ground force that leads global access, precision strike, personnel recovery and battlefield surgery operations.

Since April 2018, when the 24th SOW had their last change of command, Special Tactics operators have conducted 264 combat missions, controlled over 500 aircraft and removed more than 730 enemies from the battlefield. Webb commended their efforts.

“To the 24 SOW, particularly, this is the message – you guys continually impress. You lead this command, AFSOC, in many ways,” Webb said. “This [major command] is drafting off the intellectual energy of this wing, and I am not ashamed to say that. Actually, you’re making us that much better.”

As the commander of the 24th SOW and roughly 2,500 Airmen, Allen is responsible for preparing Special Tactics forces to conduct global air, space, and cyber-enabled special operations across the spectrum of conflict to prepare for, fight, and win our nation’s wars.

“This is about putting the right person at the right place in the right time, and that person is Col. Matt Allen,” Webb said. “Matt, of course you are going to command during interesting times. You will lead your charges while you balance the demands of the present, counter [violent extremist organizations], with what is frankly, right on our door step or what will be in the future, and is expressed in the National Defense Strategy – great powers competition.”

Prior to assuming command of the 24th SOW, Allen was the commander of the 720th Special Tactics Group, here.

Over a 20-year career, Allen has served in three Special Tactics Squadrons as Team Leader, Director of Operations, and Commander. Colonel Allen has led and participated in joint special operations in Operations ENDURING FREEDOM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM-Trans Sahara.

“I am proud and humbled to be here,” Allen said. “Immensely proud of this organization and our professional standards and incredibly humbled at the enormity of the task that lies ahead of us.”

Air Force Special Tactics is the most highly decorated community in the Air Force since the end of the Vietnam War and has received one Medal of Honor, nine Air Force Crosses, 46 Silver Stars, nearly 650 Bronze Stars medals (more than 250 with valor), and hundreds of Purple Hearts.

“Our men and women provide access, strike, recovery, and battlefield surgery across the spectrum of conflict, and foundational to this, is mission command,” Allen said. “The joint team depends on us to get it right the first time, every time, and we will continue to deliver.”

24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs, Senior Airman Joseph Pick and Senior Airman Rachel Yates

Special Tactics Training Squadron Dedicates Building To Selfless Hero

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. – Those who have walked the grounds of Hurlburt Field know that the entire base is engulfed with Air Force history. The street names, buildings, airpark, and training complexes all tell a story and keep memories alive of perhaps a father, husband, son, daughter, or in many cases – a hero.

Today, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col William “Bill” Schroeder’s name was bound forever to Special Tactics and Hurlburt Field history when the Special Tactics Training Squadron annex building, which formerly housed the 10th Combat Weather Squadron, was dedicated in his namesake.

A crowd of family and friends amidst a sea of berets gathered as key leadership within the 24th Special Operations Wing, alongside members of Schroeder’s family, unveiled the new name of the STTS annex building which now reflects “Schroeder Special Tactics Training Facility.”

“The STTS forges and refines the next generation of America’s Special Operations Warriors,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Matt Allen, presiding officer of the ceremony and incoming commander of the 24th SOW. “The men and women who walk these halls are preparing to take their place in the front lines of the most powerful Air Force and Special Operations Command in our nation’s history.”

Schroeder’s name, now prominently displayed on the front-side of the building, next to the doors of the entryway, will stand as a reminder to future generations of Special Tactics Airmen of Schroeder’s gallant devotion to country and duty.

As a career Special Operations Weather Officer, Schroeder commanded the 10th CWS from June 2013 to May 2014, when it was inactivated.

Susan Schroeder, mother of Bill, described Bill as being dedicated to the Air Force since he was only 12 years old, but Bill’s family has fond memories of his time served as the commander of Thor’s Legion, taking care of Airmen.

“And in this building, in particular, when he took us through it when we first came to visit, he was so proud of everything that was in there,” said Susan.

When the squadron inactivated, special operations weathermen integrated into the 720th Special Tactics Group, adding special reconnaissance capabilities to Special Tactics teams.

Following the 10th CWS, Schroeder commanded the 342nd Training Squadron, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, until April 2016 when he was fatally wounded.

Schroeder, with complete disregard for his own safety, placed himself in direct danger to defend his first sergeant against an armed assailant. Schroeder’s gallant actions allowed the first sergeant to escape and to notify security forces, preventing additional loss of life.

Schroeder was posthumously awarded the Airman’s Medal, which is given to those who distinguish themselves by heroic acts outside of combat.

 

“Bill gave his life defending his teammates in San Antonio on 8 April 2016, but he lived every day of his life reminding us of the importance of service to others, love of country, and love of his fellow man,” said Allen. “And it’s in this legacy that the ST community proudly dedicates this building to Bill.”

 

Alongside the building dedication, Schroeder is also memorialized through a recent career change within Special Tactics.

On April 1, the Special Operations Weather Team career field transitioned into Special Reconnaissance, or SR, shifting their primary focus to reconnaissance capabilities brought to a Special Tactics team. “SR” is the operator-initials of Schroeder, an intentional renaming to memorialize a former leader.

 

Special Reconnaissance Airmen have been an integral piece of Special Tactics with unique training to conduct multi-domain reconnaissance and surveillance across the spectrum of conflict and crisis. As SR, they will continue to maintain their application of lethal and non-lethal air-to-ground integration of airpower.

 

Susan spoke about what the building dedication means to their family.

 

“We want you all to know how much gratitude we feel towards all of you who are recognizing our son, our husband, our father, at this very time, with this very, very unique dedication,” said Susan.

 

24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

Cubic Awarded Contract to Develop Small Form Factor Radio for US Air Force

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

Cubic Mission Solutions to deliver and demonstrate low-risk solution for Data Link Enterprise small form factor radio capability 

SAN DIEGO – June 10, 2019 – Cubic Corporation (NYSE: CUB) today announced its Cubic Mission Solutions (CMS) business division was awarded a delivery order from the U.S. Air Force (USAF) for the development and demonstration of a Small Form Factor (SFF) Radio prototype for the Data Link Enterprise (DLE). The system is composed of one ground and one air component for improved communications capability, providing ground-to-air and air-to-ground real-time communications.

Cubic’s state-of-the-art solution is a lightweight, airborne and ground radio system delivering SFF capability in the most compact tactical radio prototype. In addition to a number of standard waveforms, Cubic’s system will demonstrate an internally developed, protected waveform known as “Boomslang.”

“We are very pleased to have been competitively selected by the USAF to develop and demonstrate our cutting-edge small form factor radio solution for the DLE,” said Mike Twyman, president, Cubic Mission Solutions. “Our system design is based on proven and mature technologies which we have implemented for a number of successful Department of Defense programs. We look forward to leveraging our expertise to provide the lowest risk and most capable solution for the DLE.”

Cubic’s SFF technical approach focuses on an architecture maximizing functionality and performance while minimizing the system’s size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C) for both the ground and airborne systems. Cubic’s offering is modular, scalable and affordable with plug and play, open standard interfaces meeting Modular Open Systems Approach (MOSA) requirements.

“With decades of experience in developing systems for airborne and ground platforms, we are able to deliver a cost-effective solution, leveraging enhanced off-the-shelf technologies to build a prototype that will be ready for fielding in future follow on efforts,” said James Parys, program director, Cubic Mission Solutions.

Vendors Deliver Air Force Flight Helmet Prototypes in Just 9 Months Thanks To AFWERX Vegas

Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

LAS VEGAS—U.S. Air Force fixed-wing aircrews at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. are flight-testing new prototype helmets this summer, thanks in part to an accelerated acquisitions process enabled by the AFWERX Vegas Innovation Hub. In just nine months, more than 100 crowd-sourced user-suggestions and concepts resulted in product presentations selected from 38 companies. From these, three teams of partnered vendors were tasked with the production of prototypes.


At an informal celebration at the AFWERX Vegas Innovation Hub earlier this month, U.S. Air Force personnel took delivery of four helmet designs that may each represent the next generation of fixed-wing aircrew equipment. In just nine months, the AFWERX innovations process generated tangible products for further Air Force testing and development. PHOTO: AFWERX Vegas

Four robust prototypes have now been delivered to the Air Force, ahead of schedule and ready-for-testing.

The fixed-wing aircrew helmet currently issued to the Air Force was last updated in the 1980s. Previous attempts at determining user specifications, and soliciting new designs from industry, had failed to gain much altitude. “Previously, it had taken the Air Force years to fully articulate a requirement and launch an RFP [Request-for-Proposal],” says Mark Rowland, an Innovation Actualizer at AFWERX Vegas. “It took us just a few weeks.”


After approximately two months of problem-definition workshops with stakeholders and experts, as well as an on-line design challenge soliciting ideas from the public, the AFWERX Vegas Innovation Hub hosted 35 non-traditional potential vendors of components and full-helmet solutions in a November 2018 showcase. From these, a total of 10 vendors were configured into three teams. Each was tasked to develop prototypes. PHOTO: US Air Force A1C Bryan T. Guthrie

The prototype helmets were developed with an eye toward decreased weight, improved thermal management and stability, customizable fit, and integration with night-vision and other systems.

“The current helmets worn by aircrews in most fixed-wing aircraft were […] not made to withstand and balance [all the modern technology] that we are putting on them,” explains 1st Lt. Naomi Harper, a program manager with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Human Systems Division. “If the weight on the helmets is off, the center of gravity is completely off, which can cause neck issues and pain for our aircrews.”

One of AFWERX’s innovation-acceleration secrets? Focus on finding “dual-use” or “Commercial Off-the-Shelf” (“COTS”) solutions that are already in production. Another secret? Involve non-traditional vendors—especially small businesses and start-ups—who may require comparatively little developmental funding to achieve next-level successes.

For vendors who may otherwise lack familiarity with the Air Force, AFWERX can serve as both a matchmaker and a catalyst. The military is a great potential partner, says AFWERX Vegas hub Deputy Director Colby Edwards, because it can often provide critical funding with little contractual commitment and without sharing Intellectual Property (IP) rights in development phases. The opportunity to serve the American warfighter is important, too.

“In the helmet-design challenge, we think AFWERX has helped save the Air Force millions of dollars and years of development, brought-in more competition, and generated more-innovative products,” says Edwards. “Even better—the impact to the warfighter will ultimately be improved effectiveness, safety, and comfort.”

“Now, the AFWERX Vegas team looks forward to seeing the project’s continued successes, as U.S. Air Force program offices and testers begin to work directly with these potential vendors,” he says.

To learn more about the AFWERX Challenge, visit: www.AFWERXchallenge.com

The AFWERX Vegas Innovation Hub was started in 2017 and is funded by the U.S. Air Force to support outreach to the business and academic communities. The location is one of three AFWERX Innovation Hubs—the others are in Austin, Texas and the District of Columbia. Each serves as a nexus for activities focused on delivering design solutions to Air Force problems faster, more effectively, and more efficiently than in the past.

The AFWERX Vegas team reconfigures its process to meet requirements for each Air Force design project. Often, in early stages, the team hosts ideation workshops and online challenges. Through such efforts, AFWERX optimizes participation of subject-matter experts from industry, business, investment, academia, and the military. Later stages can incorporate mini-tradeshows, “Shark-Tank”-like pitch meetings, side-by-side competitive “fly-off” events, and more.

As envisioned by U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson in 2017, AFWERX is intended to solve some of the toughest challenges that the Air Force faces in an “outside the fence” environment, through innovation and collaboration amongst our nation’s top subject-matter experts. The world is changing quickly—new technologies, new threats, and new opportunities.

To learn more about AFWERX, visit: www.afwerx.af.mil

US Air Force Small Arms Update – 2019

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

At this week’s NDIA Armaments Meeting, Air Force Security Force Center’s Col Enrico Vendetti provided an update on USAF small arms. Up front, he iterated that the Air Force tends to leverage other service weapon programs. This is partly due to the fact that the Air Force’s requirement for arming is at about 50,000 personnel. The vast majority are Security Forces, but there are also Office of Special Investigations Agents and Battlefield Airmen in the mix. Consequently, much of the Security Forces Center’s effort is focused on the Reconstitute Defenders Initiative.

While much of that initiative is focused on the individual, there is also near-term acquisition of the M18 version of the Modular Handgun System, M320A1 40mm Grenade Launcher, GAU-5 5.56mm Aircrew Self Defense Weapon and CROWS/containerized weapons for Airfield Defense.

In the future, the Air Force is looking at M4A1 Improved Modular Rifle (discussed last year), acquisition of the M110A1 Compact Semi Auto Sniper System in 7.62mm, additional precision weapons such as USSOCOM’s Advanced Sniper Rifle, and Fire Control Systems. There is also OSI interest in a new sub gun like the Army’s new Sub Compact Weapon.

Interestingly, they are now focusing in on the SIG SAUER TANGO6 1-6 variable power optic selected by the Army and SOCOM for the AF M4A1 IMR.

USAF Secretary and Chief of Staff Initiate Dialogue With Commanders on a Plan for New Officer Promotion Categories

Tuesday, June 4th, 2019

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) —

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein shared in a memorandum to wing, numbered Air Force and major command commanders May 31, a draft plan for new Line of the Air Force officer promotion categories.

The memo explains the proposed change and directs commanders to solicit and provide feedback from officers to major command commanders by July 31, with “a final recommendation due to the secretary and chief not later than 30 August 2019.”

According to the memo, “The reemergence of great power competition, rapid development and fielding of advanced technologies, and new concepts of warfare and competition that span the entire spectrum of conflict demand a joint force structured to match this reality. These trends, if unaddressed, will challenge our ability to fight and win.”

The memo continues, “Over the past eighteen months, we have extensively examined how we develop, evaluate and promote officers across our total force. We have concluded that our current system, which has served us well in the past, is not optimized to support future joint warfighting in this new era. Based on our research, extensive discussions with Airmen across the Air Force (active, Guard, Reserve and civilian), and surveys with joint and inter-agency teammates, we believe it is time to expand the Line of the Air Force promotion categories into more subgroupings. The following categories represent the disciplines needed for future joint warfighting and allow for developmental competitive pathways that are optimized for each category.”

Promotion Category

Air Operations & Special Warfare

Pilot (11X), Combat Systems (12X), Remotely Piloted Aircraft    Pilot (18X), Air Battle Manager (13B), Special Tactics (13C), Combat Rescue (13D), Tactical Air Control Party (13L)

Space Operations

Space Operations (13S), Astronaut (13A)

Nuclear & Missile Operations

Nuclear and Missile Operations (13N)

Information Warfare

Cyber Operations (17X), Intelligence (14N), Operations Research Analyst (61A), Weather (15W), Special Investigations (71S), Information Operations (14F), Public Affairs (35X)

Combat Support

Airfield Operations (13M), Aircraft Maintenance (21A), Munitions and Missile Maintenance (21M), Logistics Readiness (21R), Security Forces (31P), Civil Engineering (32E), Force Support (38F), Contracting (64P), Financial Management (65X)

Force Modernization

Chemist (61C), Physicist/Nuclear Engineer (61D), Developmental Engineer (62E), Acquisition Management (63A)

*Note: Under this proposal existing promotion categories for judge advocates, chaplains and medical personnel will remain unchanged.

The memo sets the stage for gathering field input similar to what was done under the Revitalizing Squadrons effort. The memo states, “While these changes have been reviewed and discussed at leadership levels, we realize this would be a significant change for the officer corps. Rather than make an immediate decision, we thought it best to share the draft with commanders first in order to engage in a dialogue with the officers assigned to you and solicit feedback before proceeding.”

In addition to commander-solicited feedback, Shon Manasco, assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower and reserve affairs, and Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services, will be deploying briefing teams to various installations across major commands and functional communities during June and July to brief the proposed changes in-depth, answer questions and capture feedback from Airmen who are able to attend.

Additional virtual venues and online sites will also be available to gather feedback from across the force.

The memo concludes, “For this foundational change to succeed, commanders at every echelon must take ownership, understand and explain why we are proposing this significant change, listen to the officers entrusted to your care and pass your thoughts up the chain. Our future depends on getting this right. Help us make it better.”

The briefing and community-specific questions and answers will be made available to broader audiences at a later date.

 Editor’s Note: Special Warfare will encompass current STOs and CROs who are supposed to merge into a single careerfield with 19 as their AFSC. Possibly ALOs (TACP) may join them as a separate shredout in AFSC 19.

So Long Special Operations Weather, Hello Special Reconnaissance

Saturday, May 18th, 2019

AIR FORCE TRANSITIONS ENLISTED SPECIALTY, GROWS SPECIAL TACTICS CAPABILITIES

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. – Enlisted Airmen have been analyzing weather since the very beginning of American military flight in 1917. Decades of hard-earned experience led to Special Operations Weather Team Airmen being designated with their own Air Force Specialty Code in 2008.

By combining the core skills of Special Operation Forces with their meteorology skills, SOWTs have been a critical asset to the War on Terror. Alongside Special Tactics teammates from forward deployed locations, SOWTs would gather, assess, and interpret environmental data in order to forecast weather impacts to operations. In a location like Afghanistan, this was vital to successful air-ground operations.

However, in an era of great power competition, the need to look critically at the entire U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command formation drove Headquarters Air Force and AFSOC to broaden the skillset of Special Tactics teams. On April 30, 2019, SOWT became Special Reconnaissance expanding the capacity and lethality of Air Force Special Tactics.

“Air Commandos need to operate effectively across the spectrum of conflict, from the low-end to the high-end and everywhere in between,” said Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, AFSOC commander.  “It’s what the nation expects from us and this transition demonstrates our commitment to the National Defense Strategy.”

SOWT Airmen have been an integral piece of Special Tactics with unique training to conduct multi-domain reconnaissance and surveillance across the spectrum of conflict and crisis. As Special Reconnaissance, or SR, they will continue to maintain their application of lethal and non-lethal air-to-ground integration of airpower.

“The evolution of Air Force Special Tactics on today’s battlefield has called for SOWT to transition their singular focus to a more holistic approach– the highly demanded special reconnaissance,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jeff Guilmain, the command chief of the 24th Special Operations Wing.

Special Reconnaissance, or SR, Airmen add a new capability to Special Tactics teams to prepare the environment and aid in air, space, cyberspace, and information superiority for the successful execution of Joint Force objectives.

“[Special Reconnaissance] will truncate [special operations] weather training with a shift in focus from long-term regional forecasting to short-term, small-scale, team-specific environmental reconnaissance with an emphasis on special recon as a whole.” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Thomas Howser, a career assistant functional manager for Special Reconnaissance.

The training pipeline for SR won’t be much different from that of SOWT’s.

Trainees will still undergo:

·         Selection Course

·         Initial Skills Course

·         U.S. Army Airborne School

·         U.S. Air Force Basic Survival School

·         U.S. Air Force Water Survival School

·         U.S. Air Force Underwater Egress Training

·         Special Operations Weather Course

·         Advanced Skills Training

·         Special Tactics Training

Combat dive and military free-fall qualifications, as well as recon-specific training, are being added to the pipeline.

Existing SOWTs will attend a Special Reconnaissance transition course that will sign off SR-specific training.

“This move will modernize the force and bridge a gap across all domains,” Howser said. “It will allow joint-interoperability across all the services with regards to Special Reconnaissance.”

The Special Reconnaissance designation is not only creating Air Force history, but honoring a giant in special operations weather history.

“SR” is the operator-initials of U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. William “Bill” Schroeder, a career special operations weather officer and former commander of the 342nd Training Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

Schroeder was fatally wounded during a struggle with a gunman after he instinctively placed himself between the armed individual and the squadron’s first sergeant, saving the lives of many, on April 8, 2016.

The new designation is just one way future Special Reconnaissance Airmen will remember their roots and the true meaning of service before self.

Story by Senior Airman Rachel Yates, 24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

Photo by Staff Sergeant Sandra Welch

Air Force Senior Leaders Update OCP Uniform Guidance

Wednesday, April 24th, 2019

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ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) — The Air Force announced April 23 new rules on Operational Camouflage Pattern uniforms that aim to better fit the needs of Airmen and the jobs they do while also holding fast to tradition.

The changes highlighted include authorization of the Two-piece Flight Duty Uniform in garrison and updated patch guidance for the OCP uniform.

“During the initial rollout of the OCP, we originally matched our sister services regarding patch configurations as we sought to emphasize our role as a joint warfighting force,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein.

“In response to overwhelming feedback received from Airmen, we will make an easy ‘sleeve swap’ of the patch configuration to further elevate our focus on honoring the heritage of squadrons as the war-fighting units of the world’s greatest Air Force. We will now place the squadron patch on the right sleeve along with the U.S. flag and move the higher headquarters patch to the left sleeve of the OCP.”

Additionally, to provide commanders with expanded uniform options to fit the myriad of missions, on April 15, the two-piece flight suit, otherwise known as the 2PFDU, will be authorized to be worn in both garrison and deployed locations. The 2PFDU continues an effort to provide Airmen with improved form, fit and function to perform their duties in any environment.

The traditional flight duty uniform will also continue to be an option. Squadron commanders will now have the flexibility to make combat uniform decisions based on what is best for their Airmen to meet mission requirements.

“The new unit patch configuration of the OCP and 2PFDU also aligns with the traditional FDU, elevating the significance of squadron focus and identity, which supports CSAF’s intent to revitalize squadrons,” said Lt. Gen. Mark D. Kelly, Headquarters Air Force deputy chief of staff for Air Force operations.

In May 2018, Air Force leaders decided to transition to the OCP following feedback from Airmen that it is the best, battle-tested utility uniform available. It will also eliminate the need to maintain two separate uniforms – one for in-garrison and one for deployments.

The service expects to fully transition to OCPs by April 1, 2021.

For more information, Airmen should view Air Force Guidance Memorandum 2019-01 and check Air Force Instruction 36-2903 for updates, which are available on the public website of the Air Force’s Personnel Center at www.afpc.af.mil/Career-Management/Dress-and-Appearance.

Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs